Scientists solve Darwin's 'abominable mystery' about origin of flowering plants

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Scientists from Britain and China have solved the mystery of flowers of what Charles Darwin called "abominable mystery" as to when flowers originated.

According to the study published in the Journal New Phytologist that flowering plants are probably originated between 149 and256 million years old.

While the study exhibits that flowering plants are either extremely old as stated by earlier studies or young enough as found by the fossil records.

"The discrepancy between estimates of flowering plants evolution from molecular data and fossil records has caused much debate. Even Darwin described the origin of this group as an "abominable mystery'," said lead author Jose Barba-Montoya at the University College London.

In order to solve the mystery of when flowering plants actually originated, the team of scientists carefully analyzed the genetic make-up of flowering plants and the rate at which mutations accumulate in their genomes.

When viewing through the lens of the fossils records, flowering plants often seem to have diversified immediately. For example, precipitation of a Cretaceous terrestrial revolution in which pollinators, herbivores and predators underwent tremendous co-evolution.

Extremely old origin of flowering plants, implying a cryptic evolution of flowers that are not documented in the fossils record suggests Molecular-clock dating studies.

"In large part, the discrepancy between these two approaches is a perfect of false precision on both palaeontological and molecular evolutionary timescales," said Philip Donohghue.

However, new findings kindle the power of applying complementary studies pedestal on molecular data and the fossil records. Using different strategies to understand evolutionary timescales.

(With inputs from agencies)