The first flower ever to evolve on land was a genetic mutation in reproduction that eventually took over and led to ninety percent of the plant populations on Earth. That original bloom was the ancestor of all modern flowers, including roses, lilies, and even grasses, and fruit trees. Almost all vegetables and plants consumed by humans use floral reproduction. And while this original ancestor is quite different from many of its descendants, there are some striking similarities.
The First Flower to Bloom Was a Primitive Water Lily
The study was called the “eFLOWER Project”, and it is an international effort to trace flowers back along their evolutionary tree using both DNA and a structural analysis of hundreds of modern-day flowers of all types. They believe this first flower evolved around 140 million years ago.
One of the most important parts of the study was to determine if this first bloom was bisexual, meaning did it have both male and female organs. The researchers believe that it was, and sexualized flowers likely evolved later in along the line. It also appears to have developed petal-like organs at the same time, which appeared in whorls and stacked groups of three. Many have compared it to a primitive water lily or lotus flower.
“The results are really exciting!” Maria von Balthazar said, a specialist of floral morphology and development with the University of Vienna. “This is the first time that we have a clear vision for the early evolution of flowers across all angiosperms.”
The scientists had to use modeling and DNA examination because flowers from this time are rare in the fossil record. Analyses indicate that the first flowers were very delicate and 140 million years is hard on such samples. Although the projection shows something that is quite different from many modern examples, one can see the potential for beauty in its primitive form.
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