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Saturday 1 October 2016

Ancient flower species found in fossilised tree resin

Published 15/02/2016 | 16:06

A species of ancient flower trapped in amber which scientists have discovered (George Poinar/Rutgers University/PA)
A species of ancient flower trapped in amber which scientists have discovered (George Poinar/Rutgers University/PA)

Scientists have discovered a species of ancient flower trapped in amber.

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Two Strychnos electri buds were found encased in a piece of 15 million-year-old fossilised tree resin by US researchers.

Biology professor George Poinar, of Oregon State University, who made the discovery, said: "These flowers looked like they had just fallen from a tree. I thought they might be Strychnos."

Botany expert Lena Struwe, from Rutgers University in New Jersey, verified that the specimens do not belong to any known species.

"The discovery of this new species in a 30-year-old amber collection highlights that we still have many undiscovered species hidden away in natural history collections worldwide and not enough taxonomic experts to work through them," she said.

"Strychnos electri has likely been extinct for a long time, but many new species living and, unfortunately, soon-to-be-extinct species are discovered by scientists every year."

The findings will be published in the Nature Plants journal.

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