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Amber fossil shows 100 million-year stasis in plant genus

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It creates an odd naming situation in the process:

Today, naming a mid-Cretaceous angiosperm as a modern genus is unusual and controversial. But in the current issue of Nature Plants, Shi et al.1 do just that. With evidence from multiple exquisitely preserved plant parts, they identify the modern genus Phylica in an amber that they date to 99 million years old1. While an extraordinary claim today, it is one that would not have surprised Charles Darwin. Fossils of angiosperms (often known as ‘flowering plants’) are well known to appear suddenly and in great diversity in Cretaceous rocks. In 1879, Darwin famously wrote: “The rapid development as far as we can judge of all the higher plants within recent geological times is an abominable mystery.” …

For Darwin, the only plausible solution to this set of problems was that angiosperms had originated and diversified in long ages before the Cretaceous…

The apparent discovery by Shi et al.1 of a modern genus in the mid-Cretaceous, with evidence from multiple plant parts, now calls us to reconsider this issue. Great care is needed to verify their claim, as the stakes are high. If they are correct, Phylica is unlikely to be alone. In current phylogenies, Phylica is not an early diverging angiosperm lineage but is highly nested within the rosid eudicots. If Phylica was present in the mid-Cretaceous, then a large number of other modern genera were likely to have been present too. If this turns out to be the case, our view of the fossil record could be restored to one similar to that of Charles Darwin when he wrote about the abominable mystery. Buggs, R.J.A. Reconfiguring Darwin’s abominable mystery. Nat. Plants (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01117-x

This most interesting article makes very heavy weather out of partly confirming something Darwin mused on. Perhaps that’s the price of publication of the fact that little or no evolution appears to have happened in all that time. Which is not even unusual:

Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen

Comments
One wonders how many other fossil species are identical to current species? Also, I've often wondered why almost every dinosaur fossil find gets a new name when so many of them look so similar. If someone dug up 100 skeletons of various modern dogs without knowing what they were, I wonder how many different "species" they would be attributed to?Fasteddious
March 10, 2022
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'Theory-laden' is a wonderful word. I'm going to steal it and use it!polistra
March 10, 2022
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