A question which has baffled scientists and botanists all over the world is that of the origin of flowers. This is a question which even Darwin wasn’t able to figure out the answer to, as he termed it an ‘abominable mystery’. However, a team of scientists from China and Britain have probably cracked this mystery!

The report from these scientists claims that flowering plants originated about 149 to 256 Million years ago. This adds a third point of view to existing knowledge about flowers. It was assumed that flowering plants came into existence much earlier. However, all the fossil records show that flowering plants are much younger. This new discovery falls somewhere in between the assumed estimates and the fossils records.

“The discrepancy between estimates of flowering plant evolution from molecular data and fossil records has caused much debate. Even Darwin described the origin of this group as an ‘abominable mystery’,” explained lead author Jose Barba-Montoya from University College London.

Fossil records indicate that the number of flowering plants boomed all of a sudden and different varieties started to emerge. This question has come up time and again with no definite answers. Two different schools of thought considered two different answers. For the first time, however, there is a now a more definite answer to when flowers first appeared.

Dr Jose Barba-Montoya also explained as to how the team discovered how old flowering plants are: “To uncover the key to solving the mystery of when flowers originated, we carefully analysed the genetic make-up of flowering plants, and the rate at which mutations accumulate in their genomes.”

Of late there have been a number of new scientific discoveries. A recent discovery helped determine the origin of spiders. Scientists recently found an ancient species of arachnids with a 3mm scorpion-like tail which could perhaps be ‘the first spider’.


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