Tuesday, 16 February 2016

No Evolution in “15 Million-Year-Old” Flower Trapped in Amber

Strychnos. Image courtesy of Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen. Public domain.

Joel Kontinen

A long time ago, a flower was trapped in amber. Discovered recently in a mine in the Dominican Republic, the 2-centimetre (0.4 inches) long flower is “perfectly preserved”. Assumed to be between 15 and 45 million years old, it is “very similar” to its modern day relatives.

In other words, it has hardly changed at all. Strychnos electri, as it is called, “is thought to be a long-lost relative of modern plants including sunflowers, coffee, peppers, potatoes and mint.”

Evolution should be about change, but time and again we hear about stasis or non-change. In these cases, evidence does not match Darwinian expectations.

What they do suggests, however, is that flowers have been flowerers – and beautiful ones, too – for a very long time.

Some plants, such as ferns, araucariaea, cycads and the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), have not changed since dino days.


Coghlan, Andy. 2016. Beautiful amber fossil flower reveals plant history of New World. New Scientist (15 February).