Researchers Eva-Maria Sadowski & Christa-Charlotte Hofmann from the Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science in Berlin have published a fascinating paper describing a 28 mm flower preserved in amber, the largest of its kind, so far.
For millions of years, amber can preserve ancient insects, or in this case, flowers. However, samples tend to be very small, unlike what you might have seen in movies featuring dinosaurs. This particular sample is believed to be 33 to 40 million years old.
This amber is believed to have been a resin from a tree’s bark or heartwood. Over time, the liquid resign loses its volatile elements and hardens into a polymer form. Additionally, the ambers recovered have often been buried in an oxygen-free environment, which also helps their preservation.
The fossil was discovered 150 years ago and was left untouched until researchers decided to take a closer look to identify the flower species using modern technology. Based on the pollen analysis, it seems like the original Stewartia identification was inaccurate, and it is closer to the Symplocos family.
The identification quality isn’t that important to most of us, but it is pretty amazing to know that this flower bloomed on our planet well before humans appeared. The warm color of amber makes this time capsule particularly visually attractive.
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