Montsechia vidalii: World-Oldest Flowering Plant from Northeast Spain

by DerdriuMarriner

Montsechia vidalii is the world’s first flower and world-oldest flowering plant from northeast Spain’s Montsec Range in the Pyrenees Mountain foothills.

Montsechia vidalii furnishes fossilized proof of flowering plants

Experts in ancient and modern, extant and extinct plants apply to flowering plants the enclosed seed-bearing term angiosperm, from the ancient Greek words ἀγγεῖον (angeîon, “receptacle”) and σπέρμα (spérma, “seed”). Paleobotanists bring up dates of:

• 60,000,000+ years ago for cone-bearers to cede first-place to flowering seed-bearers in terms of claim to fame as the world’s most dominant tree types;
• 120,000,000 years for flowering plants to diversify from local niches;
• 200,000,000+ years for flowering predecessors to emerge from gymnosperms (from the ancient Greek words γυμνός [gumnós, “naked”] and σπέρμα [spérma, “seed”]).

They consider super-important ascertaining the first flowering plant’s emergence place and time.
In-depth examination of Montsechia vidalii draws scientists closer to aquatic habitats of 130,000,000 years ago.

Montsechia vidalii: illustrations based on fossilized remains show long- and short-leaved forms of the plant and a single seed.

artwork by Oscar Sanisidro
artwork by Oscar Sanisidro

Montsechia vidalii generates interest in flowering plant-friendly waters

 

Mountains emerge as Spain’s dominant landforms. Central Spain’s Iberian Range and northeast Spain’s Pyrenean Range in fact furnish fossils of the fluffy, freshwater, frondy Montsechia vidalii. The genus nevertheless gives special emphasis to the aquatic plant’s fossilization in the fine-grained lithographic limestone deposits of the Montsec Range in the Pyrenees Mountain foothills.

The aquatic plant’s bio-geography has the mountainous area’s configuration as extensive lakes during the Cretaceous Period of 66,000,000 to 145,000,000 years ago to thank for its preservation. It is comparison of 1,000 fragmented and intact fossils with ancient Spain’s famous, freshwater algae -- called charophytes (from the ancient Greek words χαρά [khara, “joy”] and φυτό [phyto, “plant”]) -- that inspires dating to 130,000,000 years ago. 

 

Montsechia vidalii: large intact specimen of the fossil; usually only small fragmentary pieces of are found.

image credit: Bernard Gomez, co-author of Montsechia vidalii findings
image credit: Bernard Gomez, co-author of Montsechia vidalii findings

Montsechia vidalii has fruiting seeds on female-/male-flowering stems

 

Paleobotanists judge as compelling and convincing as comparison dating with well-known, well-understood flora the meticulous subjection of Montsechia vidalii’s leaf and stem structures to hydrochloric acid treatments and high-resolution microscopic examinations. They now know that Montsechia vidalii most accurately is described as:

  • nurturing long shoots with either long- or short-leaved growth patterns;
  • possessing fruiting seeds borne upside down;
  • resembling Ceratophyllum, the dark green coontail or hornwort whose coarse, tufty leaves make it beloved by and integral to lovers of aquaria and ornamental ponds and of temperate and tropical marshes and streams.

The knowledge leads to important realizations regarding flowering plant emergence locations and time a century after Montsechia vidalii’s original discovery and subsequent rejection as unhelpfully weedlike. 

 

Emeritus Professor David Dilcher: co-author of Montsechia vidalii findings and expert on prehistoric plants

David Dilcher
David Dilcher

Montsechia vidalii is a fragrance-free, nectar-free, petal-/sepal-free seed-bearer

 

Paleobotanists typically mention forests or waters as the emergence sites for flowering plants. But the fragrance-less, nectar-less, petal-less, sepal-less Montsechia vidalii nudges flowering plant origins more toward niches within aquatic than sylvan habitats, per expert investigations and publications by:

  • Clément Coiffard;
  • Véronique Daviero-Gomez;
  • David L. Dilcher;
  • Bernard Gomez;
  • Carles Martín-Closas.

Artistic depictions and scientific interpretations indeed operate persuasively regarding Montsechia vidalii’s stems as sheltering female (pistillate) and male (staminate) flowering parts necessary to creating and spreading seeds for:

  • fertilizing nearby plants;
  • guaranteeing future generations.

Monteschia vidalii additionally provides twenty-first century Earthlings with an even earlier dating than the previous claimant to the title of the world’s first flower: the 125,000,000-year-old Archaefructus sinensis from northeast China’s Yixian Formation. 

 

Scientists Identify Earth's Oldest Flowering Plant

Published on YouTube August 18, 2015 by NewsBeat Social ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBBRfgSZhmQ

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Comparisons with charophytes, freshwater green algae with fossil record dating back to Silurian (443.8–419.2 million years ago), facilitated dating of Montsechia vidalii to 130,000,000 years ago, within the Cretaceous period (145.5 and 65.5 mya).

Charophyte structure
Charophyte structure

Sources Consulted

 

AFP. 17 August 2015. “Plant from 130 Million Years Ago is Among ‘First Flowers’: Study.” Yahoo! News > Science. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://news.yahoo.com/plant-130-million-years-ago-among-first-flowers-215423583.html;_ylt=AwrBT9Tpo.BVSPMAZspXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByMHZ0NG9yBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM3BHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--

“Ancient Underwater Plant ‘Could Be World’s First Flower.’ BBC News > US & Canada > 18 August 2015. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33969640

Baird, Will. 17 August 2015. “Montsechia vidalii: Earliest Known Flowering Planet Discovered in Hautervian Cretaceous Spain.” The Dragon’s Tales: Ramblings of a Curiosity Seeker. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://thedragonstales.blogspot.com/2015/08/montsechia-vidalii-earliest-known.html

Buchmann, Stephen. 2015. The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives. New York; London UK; Toronto; Sydney; New Delhi: Scribner.

“Earth’s First Flower?” Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History > Science News. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.mnh.si.edu/museum/news/firstflower/

Eck, Allison. 25 August 2015. “The World’s Oldest Flower Could Harbor Life-Saving Secrets of Ancient Pollination.” WGBH Educational Foundation > PBS Online > Nova Next > Evolution. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/evolution/the-worlds-oldest-flower-could-harbor-life-saving-secrets-of-ancient-pollination/

Fryling, Kevin. 17 August 2015. “IU Paleobotanist Identifies What Could be the Mythical ‘First Flower’.” Indiana University Blooming > IU Bloomington Newsroom. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2015/08/first-flower-angiosperms.shtml

Gomez, Bernard. “Montsechia vidalii (IMAGE).” EurekAlert! > Multimedia. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/97290.php

Gomez, Bernard; Daviero-Gomez, Véronique; Coiffard, Clément; Martîn-Closas; and Dilcher, David L. 12 August 2015. “Montsechia, An Ancient Aquatic Angiosperm.”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America > Early Edition. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1509241112

  • Available @ http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/08/12/1509241112

Griffiths, Sarah. 17 August 2015. “World’s First ‘Flower’ Revealed: 130-Million-Year-Old Aquatic Plant May Have Been Eaten by Dinosaurs.” Daily Mail > Latest Headlines > Science > Pictures. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3201101/World-s-flower-revealed-130-million-year-old-aquatic-plant-eaten-dinosaurs.html

Haines, Lester. 18 August 2015. “Boffins Identify World’s (Possibly) First Flowering Plant: 130-Million-Year-Old Fossils May be ‘Mythical’ Angiosperm.” The Register > Science. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/18/worlds_oldest_flower/

Khan, Amina. 17 August 2015. “’First Flowers’ May  Have ‘Bloomed’ in Water, not on Land, Fossils Suggest.”  Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times > Science / Science Now. Retrieved August 215.

  • Available @ http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-first-flowers-water-not-land-fossils-20150817-story.html

N.Bg. avec AFP. 19 August 2015. “La plus ancienne fleur du monde a été identifiée.” 20 Minutes > Sciences. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.20minutes.fr/sciences/1668855-20150819-plus-ancienne-fleur-monde-identifiee  

Osborne, Hannah. 17 August 2015. “Mythical ‘First Flower’Potentially Discovered to be 130 Million-Year-Old Montsechia vidalii.” International Business Times > Science. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/mythical-first-flower-potentially-discovered-be-130-million-year-old-montsechia-vidalii-1515831

pskhun. 19 August 2015. “[PaleoBotany 2015] Montsechia vidalii An Ancient Aquatic Angiosperm.” Novataxa > Species New to Science. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://novataxa.blogspot.com/2015/08/montsechia.html

PTI. 19 August 2015. “Oldest Flowering Plant Bloomed in Shadow of Dinosaurs.” Live Mint > Politics. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.livemint.com/Politics/Hk12zCLlAVQdYnjR4sFdfM/Oldest-flowering-plant-may-be-125130-million-years-old.html

Montsechia vidalii: Paleontologists Identify One of Earliest Flowering Plants.” Sci-News.com > Paleontology > Science > 18 August 2015. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/science-montsechia-vidalii-earliest-flowering-plant-03139.html

Sanchez, Nick. 19 August 2015. “World’s Oldest Flower Grew in Fresh Waters of Spain 130M Years Ago.” Newsmax.com > The Wire. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/worlds-oldest-flower-spain/2015/08/19/id/670758/

Sanisidro, Oscar. “Montsechia vidalii Illustrations.” EurkAlert! > Multimedia Gallery > Marine Science Portal. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://ekaweb02.eurekalert.org/multimedia/msp/pub/97291.php

Schneider, Caitlin. 26 August 2015. “World’s Oldest Flower Likely Lived Among the Dinosaurs.” Mental Floss.com > Biology > Botany > Fossils. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://mentalfloss.com/article/67839/worlds-oldest-flower-likely-lived-among-dinosaurs

Thomson, Helen. 17 August 2015. “Fossilised Remains of World’s Oldest Flower Discovered in Spain.” The Guardian > Science. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/17/fossilised-remains-worlds-oldest-flower-discovered-cretaceous?CMP=share_btn_tw

 Winter, Stuart. 18 August 2015. “World’s Oldest ‘Flower’ Is Thought to be 130 Million Years-Old.” Express Home of the Daily and Sunday Express > News > Nature. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/599084/World-s-oldest-flower-Montsechia-Vidalii-is-thought-to-be-130-million-years-old

 

Montsechia vidalii, possibly the world's oldest flower, hails from the Montsec Range of the Pre-Pyrenees, foothills of the Pyrenees mountain range separating the Iberian Peninsula from France.

view of Montsec Range from Talarn, Pallars Jussà, northwestern Catalonia, northeastern Spain
view of Montsec Range from Talarn, Pallars Jussà, northwestern Catalonia, northeastern Spain
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann ~ Available now via Amazon

an exploratory journey of the roles flowers play in the production of our foods, spices, medicines, perfumes, while simultaneously bringing joy and health
flowers

Satellite View of the Pyrenees Mountains; Available as Photographic Print and also as Premium Photographic Print ~ Available now via AllPosters

Satellite View of the Pyrenees Mountains

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 02/09/2016, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 09/18/2015

Mira, The book is interestingly, practicably informative and looks so enticingly pretty in cabinets and on desktops, shelves, and tables!

Mira on 09/10/2015

I ordered it on Kindle and I may order it as a book to give as a gift. Haven't had time to read anything yet.

DerdriuMarriner on 09/09/2015

Mira, Book or Kindle? Both are nice but oh those photographs!

Mira on 09/09/2015

Okay, I ordered it!

Mira on 09/09/2015

I'm tempted to get the book on Kindle but would miss all the beautiful photography. :) I'm also thinking it could make a great gift. I'll probably order it on Kindle after all :)

DerdriuMarriner on 09/09/2015

frankbeswick, You're welcome. I particularly appreciate interactions with fellow plant lovers.

frankbeswick on 09/04/2015

Thanks for this.

DerdriuMarriner on 09/03/2015

frankbeswick, The researchers are proposing a new family called Montsechiaceae because of differences between Montsechia vidalii and its closest modern relatives in the Ceratophyllaceae family.

frankbeswick on 08/28/2015

To which plant family does the genus Montsechia belong?

DerdriuMarriner on 08/28/2015

blackspanielgallery, Yes, it is! Fossils make it so that we have such a connection with what goes before, is now, and may be yet to come.


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