Ancient Bisexual Flowers

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  04 May 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4648, pp. 511-513
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4648.511


Fossil flowers discovered in 94-million-year-old clays of the Dakota Formation in Nebraska are among the earliest known demonstrably bisexual flowers. The flowers are of medium size and have pentamerous whorls of clearly differentiated floral parts, petals alternate with the sepals, short stamens are borne opposite the petals, the carpels are fused, and a receptacular disk is present. The pollen is small and tricolporate. These flowers appear to be well adapted to insect pollination. The numerous floral features and pollen characters provide sufficient diagnostic data to assess its systematic position. No extant order accommodates the features of this flower and it shares some features of various extant orders. The classification of flowering plants and our understanding of their evolution must be influenced by the fossilized remains of ancient flowers.