Media Release: Worldwide flower family bloomed 50 million years before the dinosaurs

New Curtin-led research has discovered that a group of flowering plants with more than one thousand species worldwide is 150 million years older than botanists previously believed.

Using a similar technique made famous by Jurassic Park, sap from an ancient flowering plant preserved intact within amber, enabled researchers to date the Rhamnaceae, commonly known as the Buckthorn family, back to before the Triassic period when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Published in Trends in Plant Science, John Curtin Distinguished Emeritus Professor Byron Lamont, an evolutionary ecologist at Curtin University, and Dr Tianhua He, a molecular geneticist at Murdoch University, analysed ancient flower fossils from Myanmar, and compared them with living related plants throughout the world setting the age of the family at a remarkable 260 million years.

Professor Lamont said the team analysed the DNA from one of the family’s species, the Phylica flower, to set the molecular clock for the rest of the family.

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