buttercup

Botanic Superlatives: The First Flower

June 03, 2011
Submitted by admin

A blossoming buttercup begins with a seed, but that is an abbreviated version of the longer narrative: the evolution of flowering plants. Angiosperms would come to dominate the plant world with more than  250,000 species—a fantastic diversification that supported the evolution of insects and animals—but what of the first flower's origin? Darwin called it an "abominable mystery," and paleobotanists since have been similarly baffled by their sudden appearance in the fossil record.