Seven flowers have been found perfectly preserved in amber, from 100 million years ago. The flowers, discovered in Myanmar, were encased in amber in the Cretaceous period in what would have been a pine forest.
The authors of a paper studying the flowers, which are in stunning condition, speculated that they could have been dislodged from their trees by a passing dinosaur.
“Dinosaurs may have knocked the branches that dropped the flowers into resin deposits on the bark of an araucaria tree, which is thought to have produced the resin that fossilized into the amber." George Poinar Jr, professor emeritus of Oregon State University’s College of Science said in a statement.
"Araucaria trees are related to kauri pines found today in New Zealand and Australia, and kauri pines produce a special resin that resists weathering.”
The seven flowers are pretty minuscule at 3.4 to 5 millimeters in diameter, so researchers at Oregon State University studied the flowers using a microscope, and were stunned by the condition the flowers were in.
“The amber preserved the floral parts so well that they look like they were just picked from the garden,” Poinar said.
The flowers, which they've named Tropidogyne pentaptera, are part of the Cunoniaceae family. The flowers resemble a modern day "Christmas bush" found in Australia.
“In their general shape and venation pattern, the fossil flowers closely resemble those of the genus Ceratopetalum that occur in Australia and Papua-New Guinea,” Poinar said.
“One extant [still living] species is C. gummiferum, which is known as the New South Wales Christmas bush because its five sepals turn bright reddish pink close to Christmas.”
The researchers say the flowers must have been encased in amber before the supercontinent of Gondwana split apart, explaining why this species, found in Myanmar, is related to modern day species found in Australia.
“Probably the amber site in Myanmar was part of Greater India that separated from the southern hemisphere, the supercontinent Gondwanaland, and drifted to southern Asia,” Poinar explained.
“Malaysia, including Burma [now Myanmar], was formed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras by subduction of terranes that successfully separated and then moved northward by continental drift.”