DINOSAURS that lived during the early Jurassic period could stop and smell the flowers if they so desired, according to new study that describes the oldest fossil flower on record.

The flower, named  Nanjiinganthus dendrostyla, lived more than 174 million years ago, the researchers said. Until now, the oldest widely accepted evidence of a flowering plant, also known as angiosperm, dated to the Cretaceous period, roughly 150 million years ago.

Meanwhile, study using computer model estimated that flowers evolved about 140 million years ago.

''Researchers were nor certain where and how flowers came into existence, because it seems that many flowers just popped up in Cretaceous from nowhere,'' study lead author  Qiang Fu, an associate research professor at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology in China, said in a statement.

''Studying fossil flowers, especially those from earlier geologic periods,  is the only reliable way to get an answer to these questions.''

The flower had spoon-shaped petals and a stalky style that rose out of its center, according to the fossils.

One key feature of angiospers comes in the ''angio-ovuly,'' or fully enclosed ovules - precursors of seeds, which appear before pollination occurs.

the newly discovered N. dendrostyla has a cup like receptacle and an ovarian roof that come together to enclose the ovules and seeds.

This structure confirms that the new found plant was an angiosperm, the researchers said.


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