It looks like a cave painting – or better yet, felt-tip sketches on parchment paper.
But it’s far from a manmade work of art. Scientists believe this 130-million-year-old aquatic specimen is the world’s first flower.
David Dilcher of Indiana University and his colleagues studied the plant by dissolving the surrounding limestone native to its central Spain habitat; then, they bleached fragments of the plant for examination under a microscope. They determined that Montsechia vidalii had no roots or petals, and that it grew several tiny flowers, each of which contained a single seed. Since animals in this Cretaceous period didn’t contribute to seed dispersal, the plant most likely thrived in shallow underwater environs, where it could spew seeds from both its male and female flowers directly into the water. The researchers published their results on August 17 in the journal PNAS…[READ MORE]