An international team of paleontologists have discovered a new extinct species of
plant from the Early Cretaceous
that appears to be distantly related to living Ginkgo biloba. The fossils, named Umaltolepis mongoliensis, were collected from ancient
peat deposits at the Tevshiin Govi lignite mine in the steppes of
Results of the research, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), are published in this week’s issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"The stems and leaves are similar to the Ginkgo tree, but the seeds, and
especially the structures they are born in, are unlike any other known
plant, living or extinct," says scientist Patrick Herendeen of the
Chicago Botanic Garden, co-author of the PNAS paper.
The seed-bearing structures are more comparable to those of certain extinct Peltaspermales and Umkomasiales.
Ginkgo may be the last survivor of a once highly diverse group of extinct plants, several of which show various degrees of
PNAS + supporting info
Chicago Botanic Garden + more photos
Picture: Chicago Botanic Garden
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