Fossils of Jurassic angiosperms were found in northwest China

Recently, Professor Sun Bainian and PhD student Han Lei of the Paleontology Team of the School of Geological Sciences and Mineral Resources of Lanzhou University, Wang Xin, researcher of Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zhao Ya and Zhao Ming, librarians of Ningxia Geological Museum, and Sun Jie, experimentalist of the Department of Geology of Northwest University, carried out multi-party cooperation, using Micro-CT technology to conduct in-depth research on plant fossil materials of the Middle Jurassic in Northwest China, and confirmed the angiosperm properties of these Jurassic fossils. The findings were published in the Swiss academic journal Life.

Beautiful green ganning fruit inflorescence and the ovules/seeds contained therein. Photo courtesy of the research group

As one of the most important plant taxa in the current ecosystem, angiosperms have attracted much attention from botanists. For hundreds of years, botanists have never stopped studying angiosperms, but the origin and early evolutionary history of angiosperms are still difficult problems for botanists. Numerous paleobotanists have been searching for the earliest angiosperms, exploring the origin and history of angiosperms. For the origin of angiosperms, Western paleobotanists have long held the view that there were no angiosperms before the Cretaceous period, and whether this view is correct can only be reached by studying a large amount of fossil evidence.

The fossils in this study were collected from Gansu Province, Qinghai Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and the researchers named them Qingganninginfructus formosa. Most of these fossils were thought to be the fruit of gymnosperms ( called the beautiful sickle fruit ) . At the State Key Laboratory of Continental Dynamics at Northwest University, the research team conducted a micro-CT study on three-dimensional preserved fossil angiosperm specimens and confirmed the discovery of inverted ovules with double beaded indument preserved inside the fruit—a key feature in determining the properties of angiosperms. This discovery reveals the real existence of angiosperms in the Jurassic period, and has a wide distribution in Gan, Qingqing and Ningxia, which is also the earliest fossil record of angiosperms in Northwest China, which is of great significance for further research on the origin and early evolutionary history of angiosperms. (Source: China Science News, Wen Caifei, Faisha)

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