Oldest flower fossil discovered

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The Independent Online
RESEARCHERS BELIEVE that they have discovered fossil evidence of the world's oldest flower -142 million years old.

The fossil of the spindly twig with peapod-shaped fruit and a woody stem is from an early evolutionary stage when plants were just developing the flowering system that later evolved into fruit, grain, brilliantly coloured and fragrant flowers and food for many animals, said David Dilcher, a University of Florida biology professor.

The fossil was found in a rock formation of limestone and volcanic ash layers in China, near Beipiao, about 250 miles northeast of Peking. The rock beds were once on the bottom of a lake that was periodically showered with volcanic ash, Professor Dilcher said.

Villagers digging in the fossil beds have unearthed dinosaurs, insects, birds and plants from millions of years ago, but this is the first time a flowering plant has been uncovered.