Taiyuanostachya: An Abominable Angiosperm from the Early Permian of China
Author(s): Xin Wang, Qiang Fu
Although angiosperms are clearly and strictly defined by their enclosed seeds and enclosed ovules, how old angiosperms are remains controversial. To solve this problem, the only reliable way is digging fossils. The currently widely accepted age for angiosperms is the Early Cretaceous, although this view is facing increasing challenges from pre-Cretaceous fossil evidence of angiosperms as well as molecular clock estimates. Here we report a Palaeozoic angiosperm, Taiyuanostachya gen. nov. This fossil plant has both enclosed ovules and enclosed seeds, features characteristic of angiosperms. Especially, enclosed ovules are idiosyncratic of angiosperms. The occurrences of both characters in Taiyuanostachya declare that angiosperms, the single most diversified plant group on the Earth, have occurred in the Palaeozoic, and the origination of angiosperm appears to be much earlier than assumed previously. Although appearing astonishing, this conclusion is in line with the outcomes of molecular clock estimates done decades ago. The discovery of Taiyuanostachya gen. nov is an abominable challenge for botanists who believe groundlessly that angiosperms cannot exist before the Cretaceous.