Scientists 'recreate' 140million-year-old flower

It looks like a magnolia and would not be out of place in any front garden.

But this flower is the mother (and father) of every flowering plant living today and was gazed upon by the dinosaurs 140 million years ago.

No fossils this old have ever been found, so scientists recreated it by analysing every plant family on Earth over six years.

We now know the flowers in our gardens come from this one bloom, with three separate whorls of layered petals and both male and female reproductive organs.

Its petals lie open because its main pollinator was probably a beetle, with bees only just evolving at that time and yet to require tubular flowers like snapdragons.

The picture published in journal Nature Communications looks unlike anything we have today or any of the ideas previously proposed

The picture published in journal Nature Communications looks unlike anything we have today or any of the ideas previously proposed

Flowering plants appeared on our planet relatively recently, brightening up a drab landscape previously dominated by ferns, horsetails and mosses.

They now represent 90 per cent of all land plants, and scientists claim this is the most accurate picture of their common ancestor produced yet.

Dr Emily Bailes, who worked on the study, said: 'This is the best representation so far of the flower which is parent to every modern flower we see today, and would have existed while the dinosaurs were still on the planet, which is really exciting.

'It has three concentric circles of petal-like organs, unlike the majority of plants today. We don't know for sure what colour this flower would have been, but I think it is quite pretty.'

The origin of early flowering plants, called angiosperms, remains one of the biggest puzzles in biology, almost 140 years after Charles Darwin called their rapid rise

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