Large 38-million-year-old flower found in Baltic amber

(ORDO NEWS) — German and Austrian paleobotanists discovered an unusually large flower in one of the samples of Baltic amber from the Kaliningrad region, whose age is over 38 million years.

This discovery speaks of the possibility of preserving even large biological objects inside amber.

“For the first time, we managed to find in Baltic amber an unusually large flower of a plant from the Simplock family, whose modern representatives grow in East and Southeast Asia.

This amber flower is about three times larger than other known finds of this kind, which indicates an extremely unusual history of its entry into a large resin accumulations,” the researchers wrote.

Pieces of ancient amber, formed tens or even hundreds of millions of years ago, have long been one of the most interesting finds for paleontologists, as well as climatologists and geophysicists.

Inside them, not only air bubbles are often preserved, but also the bodies of insects, inflorescences of the first flowering plants, feathers of birds and dinosaurs, and even some tissues of their bodies.

A group of German and Austrian paleobotanists, led by Eva-Maria Sadowska, a researcher at the Leibniz Institute for the Study of Evolution and Biodiversity in Berlin (Germany), discovered the first evidence that very large flowers, whose diameter is about three centimeters, can be preserved inside especially large fragments of amber.

Amber flower from the Baltics

Scientists made this discovery while studying samples of Baltic amber formed in the middle of the Eocene, approximately 35-40 million years ago.

During this era, the climate of the Earth was much warmer than today, due to which the entire territory of modern Eastern Europe was covered with tropical and subtropical forests with evergreens.

A fully preserved flower of one of these plants, which was named Symplocos kowalewskii, was discovered by Sadovskaya and her colleagues in a large fragment of Baltic amber, which was presumably mined in the middle of the 19th century on the territory of the modern Kaliningrad Peninsula.

The inflorescence, which is about 2.8 centimeters in diameter, is the largest ancient flower ever found inside amber fragments, according to scientists.

In the past, as the researchers note, scientists have already found fragments of similar inflorescences, but they lacked stamens and clearly distinguishable pollen particles.

Their presence in the discovery of Sadovskaya and her colleagues helped scientists understand that these ancient plants do not belong to the tea plants of the genus Stewartia, as botanists previously thought, but to the family of simplocs, evergreen tropical and subtropical plants.

This discovery, as noted by paleobotanists, speaks in favor of the fact that in the middle of the Eocene a fairly warm and humid climate dominated in Eastern Europe, which was optimal for the growth of simploc plants.

In addition, it testifies in favor of the fact that Europe, and not North America, is the birthplace of this family of flora, the researchers concluded.

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