A freshwater, dinosaur-era plant has been found in Spain and has been identified as the world’s oldest known flowering plant.
The plant Montsechia vidalii, described in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has been dated to approximately 130 million years ago when dinosaurs were Earth’s dominant land animals.
The Cretaceous Period plant once grew abundantly in freshwater lakes in what are now mountainous regions in Spain. It slightly edges out another early flowering plant, China’s Archaefructus sinensis, as being the earliest known flower. Like Montsechia, Archaefructus was an aquatic species.
“A ‘first flower’ is technically a myth, like the ‘first human,’” co-author David Dilcher, a paleobotanist at Indiana University, said in a press release. “But based on this new analysis, we know now that Montsechia is contemporaneous, if not more ancient, than Archaefructus.”
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