ARCHAEFRUCTUS is an extinct genus of herbaceous aquatic seed plants
with 3 known species.
Fossil material assigned to this genus
originates from the
Yixian Formation in northeastern
originally dated as late
Jurassic but now thought to be approximately
125 million years old, or early
Cretaceous in age. Even with its
Archaefructus has been proposed to be one of the earliest
known genera of flowering plants .
Because of its age, lack of sepals and petals , and the fact that its
reproductive organs ( carpels and stamens ), are produced on an
elongate stem rather than condensed into a flower as in modern
angiosperms , ARCHAEFRUCTACEAE has been proposed as a new basal
angiosperm family. An alternative interpretation of the same fossil,
however, interprets the elongate stem as an inflorescence rather than
a flower, with staminate (male) flowers below and pistillate (female)
flower above. The discovery of
Archaefructus eoflora supports this
interpretation, because a bisexual flower is present in the region
between staminate and pistillate organs. If this interpretation is
Archaefructus may not be basal within angiosperms, rather it
may be close to the
Nymphaeales or the basal eudicots .
"Over the years many contenders have appeared for first true flower
in the fossil record. Some of these were eventually reclassified as
nonflowers, while others were dated more accurately to a later
geological time. Right now, the best and most unambiguous contender
for the title of first true flower is (125-130 million years old)
Archaefructus sinensis, described in 1998 by Ge Sun at Jilin
University and David Dilcher of the University of Florida.
ARCHAEFRUCTUS was found in Yixian lake-bed deposits in Liaoning
Province of northeast China. Dating from the lower
Cretaceous age, its
scientific name means 'ancient fruit from China.' In an evolutionary
rather than a poetic sense, perhaps we should consider Archaefructus
as the mother, the Eve, of all living flowering plants."
* ^ Sun, G., Q. Ji, D.L. Dilcher, S. Zheng, K.C. Nixon & X. Wang
2002. Archaefructaceae, a New Basal
Angiosperm Family. Science
* ^ Friis, E.M., J.A. Doyle, P.K. Endress & Q. Leng 2003.
Angiosperm precursor or specialized early
angiosperm? Trends in
Plant Sciences 8: 369–373.
* ^ Ji, Q., H. Li, L.M. Bowe, Y. Liu ">(PDF). (3.11 MiB ) Acta
Geologica Sinica 78(4): 883–896.
* ^ "Paleobotanists identify what could be the mythical \'first
flower\'", Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences , August
* ^ Stephen Buchmann. The Reason for Flowers: Their History,
Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives. Scribner, NY,