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“This is a fascinating and provocative analysis of the new fossils,” says Sam Brockington, a research fellow in the department of plant sciences at Cambridge University. “It has always been difficult to say whether the first flowering plants emerged in aquatic conditions, but this paper emphasises how important aquatic environments were for the earliest flowering plants.”
Sometime in the middle of the Cretaceous period the diversification of the flowering plant population exploded, developing into the beautiful blooms we know today, as well as influencing the wildlife that evolved alongside. Dilcher says that we wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for plants like Montsechia vidalii. “We are a product of the many stages of evolution that went hand-in-hand with the evolution of flowering plants,” he says.
Alive 125 million years ago, at the same time as the Brachiosaurus dinosaur, the world's "first" flower has just been discovered. Montsechia vidalli, a nondescript pond weed, lived its entire life under water in the freshwater lakes of northern and central Spain. The flower does not have petals or bright colours as you would expect, but instead has fine fibres or leaves, resembling that of the common pond weed Ceratophyllum...