Striking New Images Reveal Beauty of Flower’s Largest, Forgotten Amber Fossil | CNN

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Almost 40 million years ago, a flower bloomed in a Baltic coniferous forest. Drops of tree resin coated the petals and pollen, forever highlighting a fleeting moment in our planet’s past.

Scientists have taken a fresh look at the unique amber fossil, which was first documented in 1872 as belonging to a pharmacist called Kowalewski in what is now Kaliningrad, Russia.

According to Eva-Maria Sadowski, postdoctoral researcher at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin’s natural history museum, and author of the new study.

She said she heard about the fossilized flower, officially known as specimen X4088, from a retired colleague, who she said was exaggerating.

“He told me that he visited the BGR once and that (he) saw the most amazing and largest amber flower in their collection. I didn’t know they had an amber collection. So I asked the curator of the BGR collection if I could come and see their collection – and there I found specimen X4088,” she said by email.

“I was more than surprised to see such an inclusion of flowers.”

At 28 millimeters (1.1 inches) across, it is the largest flower known to be fossilized in amber – three times the size of similar fossils.

Sadowski extracted and examined pollen from amber. She discovered that the flower had been misidentified when she first studied it.

“The original genus name of this specimen was Stewartia from the plant family Theaceae. But we were able to show in our study that this was not correct, primarily on the basis of pollen morphology. But when the specimen was first studied in the 19th century, they (did) not discover or study pollen,” she said.

The flower is closely related to a genus of flowering plants common in Asia today known as Symplocos – shrubs or trees that sport white or yellow flowers.

Originally named Stewartia kowalewskii, the authors propose a new name for the flower of Symplocos kowalewskii.

Amber fossils provide a captivating three-dimensional look into the past. In addition to plants and flowers, a dinosaur tail, a crab, a hell ant, a spider mother and her young, an ancient bird’s foot and a lizard skull were found buried in tree resin globes. .

The study was published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

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