In Search of the First Flower: A Jurassic Angiosperm, Archaefructus, from Northeast China

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Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1692-1695
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1692

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Angiosperm fruiting axes were discovered from the Upper Jurassic of China. Angiosperms are defined by carpels enclosing ovules, a character demonstrated in this fossil. This feature is lacking in other fossils reported to be earliest angiosperms. The fruits are small follicles formed from conduplicate carpels helically arranged. Adaxial elongate stigmatic crests are conspicuous on each carpel. The basal one-third of the axes bore deciduous organs of uncertain affinities. No scars of subtending floral organs are present to define the individual fertile parts as floral units, but the leaf-like structures subtending each axis define them as flowers. These fruiting axes have primitive characters and characters not considered primitive.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: gsun@jlonline.comi; dilcher{at}

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