Flowers can be traced back to an ancient ancestor

Although most species of plants on Earth have flowers, the evolutionary origin of flowers is shrouded in mystery. Flowers are the sexual organs of more than 360,000 species of plants alive today, and are derived from a single common ancestor which is believed to date back to between 140 and 250 million years ago. As no fossil has been found dating back 140 million or more years, scientists have only had a limited sense of what this ancestor would have looked like, until now. A new study by an international team of botanists has achieved the best reconstruction to date of this ancestral flower. The research, published in Nature Communications, relies not on fossils, but by studying the characteristics of 800 of its living descendant species, and by comparing the similarities and differences among related flowering plants, it is possible to infer the characteristics of their recent ancestors. To find out more go to The ancestral flower of angiosperms and its early diversification.