Striking new images reveal beauty of forgotten and largest amber fossil of a flower

Striking new images reveal beauty of forgotten and largest amber fossil of a flower

Striking new images reveal beauty of forgotten and largest amber fossil of a flower

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Almost 40 million years ago, a flower bloomed in a Baltic coniferous forest. Dripping tree resin enveloped the petals and pollen, forever a fleeting moment in our planet’s past.

Scientists have reexamined the unique amber fossil, first documented in 1872, as owned by a pharmacist named Kowalewski in what is now Kaliningrad, Russia.

The striking fossil had been largely forgotten in the collection of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources in Berlin (BGR), according to Eva-Maria Sadowski, a postdoctoral researcher at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin’s natural history museum, and author of the new study.

She said she learned about the fossilized flower, officially known as specimen X4088, in passing from a retired colleague, who she believes was exaggerating.

“He told me that he had been to the BGR once and (he) had seen it the most amazing and largest amber flower in their collection. I didn’t know they had an amber collection. So I asked the curator of the BGR collection if I could come and see their collection – and that’s where I found specimen X4088,” she said via email.

Striking new images reveal beauty of forgotten and largest amber fossil of a flower

“I was more than surprised to see such a large floral shot.”

At 28 millimeters (1.1 in) across the road, it is the largest known flower fossilized in amber – three times the size of comparable fossils.

Sadowski extracted and examined pollen from the amber. She discovered that the flower had been misidentified when it was first studied.

“The original genus name of this specimen was Stewartia of the plant family Theaceae. But we were able to show in our study that this was not true, especially based on the pollen morphology. But when the specimen was first studied in the 19th century, they hadn’t discovered or studied the pollen,” she said.

The flower is closely related to a genus of flowering plants common in Asia today known today as Symplocos – shrubs or trees with white or yellow flowers.

Originally named Stewartia kowalewskii, the authors propose a new name for the Symplocos kowalewskii flower.

Amber fossils offer a tantalizing, three-dimensional look at the past. Like plants and flowersa dinosaur tail, a crab, a hell ant, a spider mother and her cuba old bird‘s foot and one the skull of a lizard have been found buried in blobs of tree resin.

The research was published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.



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