NANJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- An international team of researchers reported that a flower could be a condensed shoot, shedding light on the research of floral evolution.
Due to the lack of fossil evidence, especially well-preserved flowers, the question of how flowers have evolved has baffled botanists. In 2005, the question was among the 125 top scientific questions listed by the journal Science.
Researchers from Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, University of Vigo in Spain and Fushun Amber Institute analyzed a flower called Dinganthus pentamera embedded in a 15- to 20- million-year-old amber.
Dinganthus is named after Ding Shisun, a Chinese mathematician and former president of Peking University. The flower has a dimension of only 3 to 4 millimeters. The preservation enables researchers to use Micro-CT to study its key features.
The analysis showed that the flower has bracts, tepals, stamens (male part of a flower) and gynoecium (female part of a flower). It belongs to the largest group in angiosperms, the eudicots.
According to the researchers, typical eudicot flowers usually have their plant organs crowded onto the same point of the flower axis, but Dinganthus have the organs spatially distanced along the flower axis.
The findings have been published in the journal Palaeoentomology.
The researchers said that Dinganthus provides evidence for a long-held idea that a flower could be a condensed shoot, and it will help people to understand the essence of flowers and some bizarre-looking plant fossils.