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Re: World's Oldest Flower

Jerry Harris wrote:
>        Anyway, the reference I _should_ have been citing was:
>Ge, S. and Dilcher, D.L.  1997.  Discovery of the oldest known angiosperm
>inflorescences in the world from Lower Cretaceous of Jixi, China.  _Acta
>Palaeontologica Sinica_ 36(2):  135-142.
>        The plant is named in this paper:  it's called _Xingxueina
>heilongjiangensis_ (I haven't seen the _Science_ paper, so I don't know if
>it mentions this name or not).  It stems (ha ha!) from the Chengzihe
>Formation, which is described in the paper as Lower Cretaceous (on the
>basis of dinoflagellate correlation and biostratigraphy from an underlying
>stratum, which are Valanginian-Hauterivian in age, the plants are thought
>to be Hauterivian-Barremian).  The English portion of the paper also cites
>other angiosperms from the site and formation, but I don't have these
>papers (some are mentioned as "in press" or "MS," which I assume means "in
>prep"), including _Asiatifolium_, _Jixia_, _Shenkuoa_, _Zhengia_, and
>others, as well as numerous non-angiosperm plants.

This isn't the same one! Ge Sun, Dilcher, and two Chinese co-authors of the
Science paper identify the plant as Archaefructus liaoningensis, and say
it's from the Upper Jurassic "Jianshangou Bed" in the lower portion of the
Yixian Formation. THey date it at 142 million years, although western
radiometric dates are in the 125 Million years (Josh Smith, where are you?)
Their Science paper does not mention the paper you cite.
>        What I find most interesting is that a non-Chinese scientist is
>working on these specimens from the (apparent) get-go -- western scientists
>weren't "in" on the feathered theropods or new birds until _after_ they'd
>already been published in Chinese journals by Chinese paleontologists...
According to Dilcher, the Chinese discovered the fossils, and (in this
case) hand-carried the specimen to Dilcher's lab for detailed joint study.

New Scientist will have a brief report in our 6 December issue (we couldn't
come out earlier becaues of the Science embargo). Science also has a
perspective article in its 27 November issue.

Jeff Hecht     Boston Correspondent    New Scientist magazine
525 Auburn St.,          Auburndale, MA 02466             USA
tel 617-965-3834 fax 617-332-4760 e-mail jhecht@world.std.com
URL: http://www.sff.net/people/Jeff.Hecht/
see New Scientist on the Web: http://www.newscientist.com/