A new study has revealed what the first flower might have looked like.
Published in the journal Nature Communications a team of 36 researchers from 13 countries generated an image of the earliest flowering plant, also known as angiosperms.
Angiosperms are the most diverse group of plants thought to have derived from an ancestor that lived about 140 million years ago.
The exact origins of angiosperms are unclear and “the fossil record of flowers is limited”, making a study like this important in understanding floral evolution.
The study, published last week, is based on the largest database of floral traits ever assembled, which took six years to coordinate, double-check, and analyse to create a picture of the first flower.
The results, however, surprised researchers revealing the ancestral flower was bisexual, “with both female (carpels) and male (stamens) parts, and with multiple whorls (concentric cycles) of petal-like organs, in sets of threes,” the press release said.
“When we finally got the full results, I was quite startled until I realised that they actually made good sense”, said Hervé Sauquet, the leader of the study and an Associate Professor at Université Paris-Sud in France. “No one has really been thinking about the early evolution of flowers in this way, yet so much is easily explained by the new scenario that emerges from our models.”