Remember the flick Jurassic Park and how scientists were able to make ‘Dino DNA’ from Dino blood found in a mosquito which was fossilized in amber? Something similar happened when Oregon State University researchers looked into a 100 million year old fossil which was mined in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar.
The researchers were astounded when they discovered how well preserved a set of 18 tiny flowers were fixed in the amber.
George Poinar Jr., a professor emeritus in the Department of Integrative Biology at the OSU College of Science said, “It’s so complete. The preservation is so beautiful, it’s almost like they fell in there last week — they look like they’re still growing.”
The best thing about these flowers was they were long extinct. Among the group of 18 tiny flowers, one of the flowers was evolving in the process of forming seeds. This conclusively proved the existence of sexual reproduction in flowering plants very early in the planets existence.
The fossils were obtained from the local amber miners by a German researcher who sent it to Corvallis. The fossil was examined by Poinar and fellow emeritus professor, Kenton Chambers of the OSU Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, and named the newly discovered species of the flower as Micropetasos burmensis, in a paper published in the Journal of the Botanical Institute of Texas.
Poinar and his team had to sand down the amber in order to expose the flower and examine it. The flower measured 1 mm in dia while the amber in which the flowers were fossilized measured 1/3 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch in size.
Poinar and his team had to work very delicately and grind the amber particles very slowly to expose the pollen grains. The pollen grains were then examined under the microscope and what they saw was astonishing.
Poinar and Chambers saw that the Pollen tubes were protruding out of two grains of pollen and penetrating the flower’s stigma, which is the receptive part of the female reproductive system.
Considering how different Earth looked at that time, Poinar noted that the process of reproduction was quite robust and unchanged today as it was millions of years ago.