As the present unfolds, a shy future takes shape and past’s mysteries are slowly unearthed. Photosynthesis was one of the first processes to ever appear on our planet, enabling some sort of metamorphosis. Photosynthesis is the ability to convert energy from the sun into fuel and it helped life evolve from single celled organisms to the more complex algae, mosses and ferns. On the first days of the planet’s existence, flowering plants were not such a familiar part of the landscape, as they managed to grow and evolve starting with the Jurassic period, long after mammals had hit the scene.
A recent discovery of fossilized plants has opened new paths of analysis on the nature and relationships of early vegetation exhibits. After long time of trial and error, unasked questions, debated mysteries, roaming on territories of the unknown, a dinosaur-era freshwater plant from Spain has recently been identified as the Earth’s oldest flowering plant. This is maybe the most precious piece of evolutionary jewelry one could have found. Such a delicate yet steady life structure has managed to resist the proof of time and now shows us how life can be preserved for others to enjoy the complexity, strength and fascination of it. The world’s first flower is here to celebrate the resistance of life, against all odds.
The recently discovered plant, belonging to the Cretaceous Period, used to grow heavily in freshwater lakes that are presently mountainous regions in Spain. The plant is known under the name of Montsechia vidalii and is completely described in the last issue of the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences. Experts concluded that it dates back 130 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs where our planet’s dominant land animals.
To come up with the fascinating findings, researchers have analyzed more than 1.000 fossilized remains of the plant. They did this by applying hydrochloric acid drop by drop to stones that absorbed the plant’s fossil, in order to reveal the exact structures of leaves and stems. A complex mixture of potassium chlorate and nitric acid was used as well, in order to unveil the shape of the plant’s cuticles.
To coherently date the plant’s remains, researchers have compared them to other extremely old fossils in the same area. The determined age shows the plant has developed along with dinosaurs such as Brachiosaurus and Iguanodon.
Such early proofs of existence that are still well preserved offer us quite a perspective for the future. Nature is designed in such a way to perfectly preserve life forms. All it takes is a keen eye for detail, patience, time and the necessary knowledge for us to observe everything. We must use all we can to preserve these virtues within ourselves, for a change.
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