34-Million Year-Old Baltic Amber Saves Large Flowers

34-Million Year-Old Baltic Amber Saves Large Flowers

For millions of years, Amber preserves delicate organs from fossil flowers in a way that is remarkable. Flower inclusions are rare, and they usually don’t exceed 1 cm (0.42 inches). Symplocos kowalewskiiThe incredibly large Baltic amber flower, a lily, is 2.8cm (1.1in) in diameter. It’s three times larger than most other flower additions.

Symplocos kowalewskii. Scale bars - 1 cm. Image credit: Sadowski & Hofmann, doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-24549-z.

Symplocos kowalewskii. Scale bars – 1 cm. Image credit: Sadowski & Hofmann, doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-24549-z.

Amber is able to preserve organisms in three dimensions and with high fidelity. This includes arthropods and fungi as well as tiny inclusions of seeds plants such as flowers, pollen, and catkins.

This inclusion is rare in the fossil record, and can provide new insight into ancient ecosystems, ranging from Triassic to the Cenozoic.

Plant inclusions, while more common in arthropods, are usually rare.

Baltic Amber is only 1-3% botanically-derived.

Their exquisite preservation allows for assignment of genus and species to them, but most botanical amber inclusions have a small size.

Inclusions of Baltic amber flowers, for example, typically range in size between a few micrometers to 1.5cm (0.6 inches).

Symplocos kowalewskiiThe largest known flower inclusion is at 2.8cm in diameter.

It is believed to have been taken from an evergreen flowering plant and dates back to the Late Eocene period, which is at least 34 millions years ago.

It was first described as such over 150 years ago Stewartia kowalewskii It has not been updated.

A new study was conducted by Dr. Eva-Maria Sadowski, from the Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science Museum fur Naturkunde and Dr. Christa-Charlotte Hofmann, from University of Vienna’s Institut fur Palaontologie. The goal of the redescription of the unusually large flower.

The pollen was extracted from the sample and the analysis indicated that it is very similar to an Asian species. Symplocos.

Rare size Symplocos kowalewskii It is possible that the large amount of resin outpouring used to encase the flower was responsible.

Resin’s properties would have prevented organisms from growing on flowers and causing harm.

The authors stated that the large corolla size and basal fusion of the staminate rings to form a corolla likely indicate entomophilous Pollination as it is for certain Asian Symplocaceae.

Symplocos kowalewskii was likely a constituent of mixed-angiosperm-conifer forests in the Baltic amber source area and supports its affinities to evergreen broadleaved and mixed mesophytic forests of present-day East and Southeast Asia.”

These findings are published in this week’s journal Scientific Reports.


E.M. Sadowski & C.C. Hofmann. 2023. Rediscovered the largest preserved amber flower. Sci Rep 13, 17; doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-24549-z

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