Scientists have discovered the fossilized are still in a heyday entombed in Dominican amber, the first-ever specimen of a bush house that has given the world some of the most dangerous poisons, including strychnine.
The perfectly-preserved blooms named Strychnos electri are estimated by investigates from Oregon State and Rutgers universities to be from 20 million to 30 million years old.
It comes from the family of flowering flowers called asteroid that gave us potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, petunias and our morning goblet of coffee. But this one is from the genus Strychnos, which ultimate grow strychnine and curare poisons used in everything from rat domination to blow-gun weapons. Strychnine too played a part in the movie Psycho, in which Norman Bates utilizes rat poison to kill his mother and her boyfriend.
“The specimen are beautiful, perfectly continued fossil flowers, which at one point in time were borne by flowers that lived in a steamy tropical forest with both large and small-minded trees, climbing vines, palms, grasses and other vegetation, ” Oregon States George Poinar, Jr. one of the world’s group of experts on flower and animal life organizes preserved in brownish-yellow and a co-author of the breakthrough in the journal Quality Flowers, said in a statement.
“Specimens such as this are what give us insights into the ecology of ecosystems in the distant past, ” he said. “It shows that the asterids, which later imparted humans all manner of nutrients and other makes, is currently being evolving numerous millions of years ago.”
The discovery of these two fossil blooms, researchers said, been shown that many other related flower class could have advanced in the Late Cretaceous in tropical forests and lends its significant segment to the evolutionary jigsaw puzzle of neotropical woodlands that existed in the mid-Tertiary, long before North and South America were connected by the Panama land bridge.
Strychnos electri provides evidence that highly descended asterid groups were present in the mixed neotropical forest by the mid-Tertiary, Poinar and another co-author Lena Struwe of Rutgers University, wrote. This suggests that many other present-day neotropical asterid genu and their families had also evolved by this time but their stands have not yet been discovered.
Asterids are among Earth’s most important and diverse weeds, with 10 guilds, 98 families, and about 80,000 species. They represent about one-third of all the Earth’s diversity of angiosperms, or budding plants.
And one ancient genus, which has now been shown to be inherently toxic, existed for millions of years before humans is available on the planet.
“Species of the genus Strychnos are almost all toxic in some manner, ” Poinar said. “Each plant has its own alkaloids with varying effects. Some are more toxic than others, and it may be that they were successful because their poisons offered some security against herbivores.
There are now about 200 species of Strychnos weeds around the world, in words straddling from shrubs to trees and woody climbing vines, mostly in the tropics. They are still being studied for medicinal properties, such as for the treatment of parasitic worm infections and for dopes to treat malaria.