A new flower from 100 million years ago brings the festive beauty of sunburst until 2020

Valviloculus pleristaminis

Valviloculus pleristaminis. Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU

Researchers at Oregon State University have identified a spectacular new genus and type of flower from the environmentChalk periods, a male specimen whose rush like the sun’s rays to the skies froze Burmese amber in time.

“This isn’t exactly a Christmas flower, but it’s a beauty, especially considering it was part of a forest that existed 100 million years ago,” said George Poinar Jr., an emeritus professor at OSU College of Science.

The findings were published in the Journal of the Texas Botanical Research Institute.

“The male flower is tiny, about 2 millimeters in diameter, but has about 50 anthers arranged like a spiral, with anthers pointing toward the sky,” said Poinar, an international expert on the use of plant and animal life forms preserved in amber, to learn more about biology. and the ecology of the distant past.

The stamen consists of the anther – the head that produces pollen – and the thread, the stem that connects the anther to the flower.

“Even though we are so small, the details that still remain are amazing,” Poinar said. “Our specimen was probably part of a cluster of plants that contained many similar flowers, some of which may be female.”

Valviloculus pleristaminis Amber

Valviloculus pleristaminis. Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU

The new discovery has a hollow flower-shaped cup in the shape of an egg – the part of the flower from which the anthers are formed; an outer layer consisting of six petal-like components known as tepals; and two-chamber anthers, with pollen sacs opening through lateral articulated valves.

Poinar and associates at OSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture named the new flower Valviloculus pleristaminis. Valva is the Latin term for a leaf on a folding door, loculus means section, plerus refers to many, and staminis reflects dozens of male sexual organs on a flower.

The flower is framed by amber on the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana and floated on a continental plate about 4,000 miles across the ocean from Australia to Southeast Asia, Poinar said.

Geologists debated just when this piece of land – known as the West Burmese bloc – separated from Gondwana. Some believe it was 200 million years ago; others claim that it was 500 million years ago.

Numerous angiosperm flowers were discovered in Burmese amber, most of which were described by Poinar and Oregon colleague Kenton Chambers, who also collaborated on this research.

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

Because the angiosperms evolved and separated only about 100 million years ago, the West Burmese bloc could not have separated from Gondwana before, Poinar said, much later than the date suggested by geologists.

Reference: “Valviloculus pleristaminis gen. et sp. nov., a lorale fossil flower with valvatic anthers from the Middle Cretaceous amber from Myanmar ”, George O. Poinar Jr., Kenton L. Chambers, Urszula T. Iwaniec and Fernando E. Vega, 7 December 2020, Journal of the Texas Botanical Research Institute.
DOI: 10.17348 / jbrit.v14.i2.1014

Poinar and Chambers, a researcher in botany and plant pathology at OSU College of Agricultural Sciences, were joined by Urszula Iwaniec of Oregon and Fernando Vega of USDA. Iwaniec is a researcher in the Laboratory of Skeletal Biology at the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and Vega works at the Laboratory for Sustainable Perennial Crops in Beltsville, Maryland.