David Tyler reports on the beautifully preserved Cretaceous “ buttercup”:
Many portrayals of habitats purporting to represent the Age of Dinosaurs have conifer trees and ferns, but very little ground cover. As palaeontologists continue their research, they are coming to recognise that the ecosystems were much more diverse. The earliest flowering plants are represented by pollen grains and considered to be about 130 Ma years old. However, diversity after this was rapid (see here). Recently, a strikingly beautiful fossil has been reported from China, in the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation.
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ome questions deserve to be asked about the phrase “slower diversification of many families of eudicots”: if the evolution of the angiosperms was an “abominable mystery” to Darwin, the abrupt appearance of a “remarkably developed” member of the Ranunculaceae, with no earlier fossilised ancestors apart from pollen, deserves to be described as doubly abominable for Darwinism! The buttercup cousin is nothing like an intermediate form, but it has lots of features that are present in extant genera of the Ranunculaceae.
Here for more.