Fossils of extinct plants reveal origins of today’s flowering species

fossil plant

Fossil cupules from an ancient plant unearthed in Inner Mongolia, China

Gongle Shi

Newly discovered plant fossils from China, dating back more than 125 million years, may help to establish which seed plants evolved into modern flowering plants.

Flowering plants, known as angiosperms, dominate most land ecosystems, providing food and habitats for a variety of animal species. The hallmarks of angiosperms are the carpel, the female reproductive organ that encloses the ovules, and a second outer layer of tissue covering the seeds. This second outer layer – known as the angiosperm second integument – is a characteristic feature of angiosperms that isn’t seen in other modern seed plants.


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