Did this flower witness the end of the dinosaurs?
Probably not /this/ flower because it was growing sixty-four million years ago, in Patagonia, Argentina, and the dinosaurs died a few million years later. But it's possible that a plant very much like it saw the end of the dinosaurs.
The newly discovered species described by Jud et al. is named Lacinipetalum spectabilis Jud, Gandolfo, Iglesias & Wilf, gen. et. sp. nov. It was part of the flora that colonized coastal southern South America in the early Paleocene Salamanca Formation after the end-Cretaceous extinction event.
This fossil was gently buried in a muddy channel, preserving the sepals and the delicate, fringed petals. It is most closely related to the tribe Schizomerieae in the Cunoniaceae, a group that includes the New South Wales Christmas bush. They are native to Australasia and South Africa, but no longer occur in South America.
The genus, Lacinipetalum, is named for the laciniate (pointy) petals and the specific epithet for the numerous perianth (petals and sepals) parts.
You can read more about it in the Annals of Botany, and because it's an Open Access paper there's no paywall. If you don't fancy typing out the link in full then visit the Tumblr in our biography and there should be a clickable link there.
Jud, N. A., Gandolfo, M. A., Iglesias, A., & Wilf, P. (2018). Fossil flowers from the early Palaeocene of Patagonia, Argentina, with affinity to Schizomerieae (Cunoniaceae). Annals of Botany, 121(3), 431–442. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcx173
#botany #plantscience #fossil #patagonia