1. Title: Rediscovering the Oldest-known Fossils of the Frankincense Family
2. Unveiling the Identity of Mysterious Fossils
In a significant breakthrough, researchers have identified mysterious fossils found in India in the 1970s as part of the Frankincense family, reshaping our understanding of plant evolution.
3. The Hunt for the Truth
Paleontologists working in the Indian village discovered small, bead-like fossils embedded in the gray chert, yet had faced difficulty identifying plant fossils including the fruit of an extinct species designated as “Enigmocarpon.”
4. The Breakthrough Revelation
Through CT scanning technology, Steven Manchester constructed 3D reconstructions of the fossil specimens and uncovered that the five triangular seeds inside were actually pyrenes, revealing the woody dispersal pods that provide seeds with an extra protective layer.
5. A Significant Connection
The fossils were determined to belong to an extinct species in Burseraceae, the Frankincense family. Fossilized wood, leaves, fruits, and flowers from this family have been found elsewhere in India, shedding light on the significance of the geological context.
6. The Geological Context and Implications
The fossils were discovered in a time of quiet between volcanic eruptions, offering insight into the significant geological context of the time. Additionally, the newly discovered fossils are the oldest known Burseraceae fossils, with implications for the family’s origin and its potential significance in the southern hemisphere.
7. Climate Change and Pivotal Distribution Shifts
Ancient species of Burseraceae are commonly found in various locations, but the shift in distribution as a result of climate change and cooling temperatures is a notable aspect of their evolutionary history and geographic dispersion.
8. Implications and Future Perspectives
The fossils from India present compelling evidence that the southern hemisphere may have been the true birthplace of the Frankincense family, reshaping our understanding of plant evolution.
Byline: This article was published in the International Journal of Plant Sciences, authored by Steven R. Manchester, Dashrath K Kapgate, and Walter S. Judd, with contributions from researchers at the University of Florida and J. M. Patel College.