The discovery of the day is to the credit of scientists. In a study published on January 12 in the journal Scientific Reports, relayed by live science, they highlighted the largest fossilized flower ever recorded. Known for 150 years, however, it has only now been identified as a species in its own right. This discovery gives new clues about past climates and ecosystems.
A fossil dating from the end of the Eocene
Well preserved, this flower is 28 millimeters wide. Its fossil dates from the late Eocene, about 38 to 33.9 million years ago. When discovered, this flower was classified as Stewartia kowalewskii by naturalists. This ancient evergreen plant is now extinct. Kept in Berlin since it was discovered, the fossil was shrouded in mystery. Indeed, doubt persisted as to the true identity of the flower.
To finally be fixed, scientists decided to examine the pollen grains of this flower, using microscopes. They concluded that it was not a Stewartia kowalewskii. The authors of the study decided to propose a new name for this fossilized plant: Symplocos kowalewskii.
According to Regan Dunn, paleobotanist and assistant curator at La Brea Tar Pits, “the tiny grains [de cette fleur] are natural recorders of past climates and ecosystems that can help us measure how much our planet has changed in the past due to natural causes [non humaines]”. And to conclude: “This allows us to better understand how much our species has an impact on the planet.”