< p class="sc-v64krj-0 dlqbmr">Fossil flower of Symplocos kowalewskii (Symplocaceae). It is, to date, the largest find in amber.
New analyzes of the largest known fossilized flower preserved in amber, three times larger than the other findings to date, were published by biologists at the Berlin Museum of Natural History in the journal Scientific reports.
The flower is encased in amber from a northern European forest. It is dated to the Upper Eocene, between 33.9 million and 38 million years ago. With its 28 millimeters in diameter, it is much larger than other known fossil floral specimens, which do not exceed 10 mm.
Fossil flower of Symplocos kowalewskii (Symplocaceae). It is, to date, the largest discovery in amber.
Evolutionary biologists Eva-Maria Sadowski and Christa-Charlotte Hofmann have reanalyzed the exceptionally large fossilized flower described for the first time in 1872 and associated with the order Theaceae (Theaceae). At the time, she was named Stewartia kowalewskii.
However, the analysis of the pollen extracted from the anthers of the floral inclusion revealed strong affinities with Asian species of the genus Symplocos (Symplocaceae), which which led scientists to propose a new name, Symplocos kowalewskii.
Details of the anther of the flower of Symplocos kowalewskii.
This fossil represents the earliest instance of Symplocaceae native to Baltic amber and supports the affinities of its flora with the present day evergreen broadleaf forests and mixed moist forests of Asia from the East and Southeast.
The oldest fossil record of Symplocaceaeknown is a pollen discovered in California that dates from the Maastrichtian, from 72 to 66 million years ago, but biologists do not agree on its classification. In contrast, the oldest unambiguous fossils of Symplocos are fruits from the Early Eocene (55 to 49 million years old) discovered in Virginia in the United States.
< p class="e-p">The authors believe that the large size of S. kowalewskii is probably due to a large outpouring of resin that would have enveloped the flower. The resin's properties would have helped prevent organisms from growing on the flower and causing damage, researchers say in a statement.
Amber is a yellowish fossil resin or reddish secreted millions of years ago by conifers or certain plants. It can contain organisms (insects, animals or plants) sometimes very well preserved. Besides the fact that it can provide information on the species of the time, it can also allow paleontologists to reconstruct the paleoenvironments and the climate of the time of its formation.