The original flower from which all flowering plants on Earth came from has been reconstructed by scientists for the first time.
Researchers have recreated the key characteristics of this 140 million-year-old bisexual flower, which resembled a water lily.
Their model suggests that the ancestral flower had both female and male parts, and multiple whorls of petal-like organs in sets of threes.
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All living flowers ultimately derive from a single ancestor (pictured in the centre) that lived 140 million years ago. To find out what this flower may looked like, the study used the evolutionary tree (here simplified) that connects all living species of flowering plants
To create the reconstruction, researchers combined three different approaches.
First, they studied 136 fossil records and attempted to identify the closest living extinct relative of flowering plants.
Secondly, they looked at genetic studies on the reproductive structures of living flowering plants.
Their data set sampled 792 species from 372 families of flowering plants.
They used this information to work out the structure of the ancestral flower by looking at the distribution of floral traits and latest estimates about their evolutionary tree.
This allowed them to find important clues about the diversification of flowers by studying key points in time.
Researchers from the Université Paris-Sud found that this one flower diversified into the 300,000 different species of flowers that we enjoy today.
'All flowering plants have evolved and changed since that ancestor', lead author Dr Hervé Sauquet told MailOnline.
Plants have existed on land for at least 470 million years.
But how the first flowering plants - which represent around 90 per cent of all plants on Earth - came into existence is still a big