INVENTION – A hundred million year old flower preserved in Burmese amber

Researchers at Oregon State University have created a new genus and species of spectacular Middle Cretaceous flowers frozen in time by Burmese amber.

“This isn’t a Christmas flower, but it’s a beauty, especially when you consider that it was part of a forest that existed 100 million years ago,” said George Poinar Jr., professor emeritus at OSU (Oregon State University) College of Science . . The findings are published in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

“The male flower is small, about 2 millimeters wide, but has about 50 stamens arranged in a spiral, with anthers pointing towards the sky,” Poinar, an international expert in the use of plant life forms, said in a statement. and animals kept in amber to learn more about the biology and ecology of the distant past.

A stamen consists of an anther, the pollen-producing head, and a filament, the stem that connects the anther to the flower. “Despite being so small, the detail that remains is astonishing,” said Poinar. “Our specimen was probably part of a group on the plant that had many similar flowers, some possibly female.”

The new find has a hollow, egg-shaped flower cup, the part of the flower from which the stamens emerge; an outer layer consisting of six petal-shaped components known as tepals; and two-chamber anthers, with pollen sacs that are opened by lateral hinged valves.

Poinar and colleagues from OSU and the United States Department of Agriculture named the new flower Valviloculus pleristaminis. Valva is the Latin term for the leaf on a folding door, loculus means compartment, plerus refers to many, and staminis reflects the flower’s dozen of male sex organs.

The flower was enveloped in amber in the ancient supercontinent Gondwana and was transported across the ocean from Australia to Southeast Asia on a continental plate about 6000 kilometers. Poinar said.

Geologists have argued that this stretch of land, known as the West Burma Block, separated from Gondwana. Some believe it was 200 million years ago; others claim it was more than 500 million years ago.

Numerous angiosperm flowers have been discovered in Burmese amber, most of which have been described by Poinar and a colleague from Oregon state, Kenton Chambers, who also contributed to this research.

Angiosperms are vascular plants with stems, roots and leaves, with eggs that fertilize and develop within the flower.

Because angiosperms only evolved and diversified about 100 million years ago, the Western Burma block couldn’t have separated from Gondwana sooner, Poinar said, which is much later than the dates proposed by geologists.