Kew scientists find daisy fossils from dinosaur times

Fossil pollen grains from the Asteraceae or daisy family have been discovered in Antarctica by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and colleagues in Argentina and New Zealand, drastically pushing back the assumed origin of this flowering plant lineage by twenty million years.

Asters. Image: MorgueFile
Asters. Image: MorgueFile

This places the early evolution of daisies at the time of dinosaurs. The results were published this week in the online Early Edition of PNAS.

Using the Antarctic findings, the team has also now been able to unambiguously place a number of other Cretaceous fossilised pollen grains from New Zealand in the Asteraceae family, implying that the Cretaceous distribution of this family was relatively broad.

The researchers saw strong morphological similarities between these fossil pollen grains and those produced by some members of the Asteraceae family today.

The Asteraceae are the single most diverse family of flowering plants, with about 23,000 species, including garden favourites such as daisies, sunflowers and chrysanthemums, right through to lettuce and artichokes.

The fossil analysed had remained buried in deposits from the Late Cretaceous period of Antarctica for more than 65 million years and was found amongst extinct groups such as dinosaurs and Ammonites. This, and other analyses, reveal the Asteraceae family to be about 80 million years old and these pollen grains to be this family’s oldest fossils ever discovered.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

It's now around one year since work started on Sheffield's groundbreaking "Grey to Green" scheme, one of the largest urban green infrastructure projects in the UK.

Tree lifting, moving  and planting

Tree lifting, moving and planting

Successful relocations can see even big trees flourish while costing less than buying new stock, says Sally Drury.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Contracts & Tenders

Sally Drury on professional gardening

Sally Drury

A monthly checklist of things to do and watch out for to keep your garden looking its best.