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Fossilized Extinct Plant Discovered
People, Environment

Fossilized Extinct Plant Discovered

US scientists have discovered a new species of a now-extinct plant, after testing the remains of two flowers that were fossilized in amber. The flowers had been preserved for at least 15 million years and belong to the genus whose species produce the deadly poison strychnine. The full name of the new plant is Styrchnos electri— electri comes from the Greek word elektron, meaning amber, according to Newsweek. The flowers were first collected in 1986 by George Poinar, a professor at Oregon State University. They were among 500 fossils that he had gathered but it was not until 2015 that he began examining the flowers. Poinar sent photos of the specimens to Lena Struwe, a professor at Rutgers University and an expert in the Strychnos genus, who helped identify them. The researchers’ findings appear in the scientific journal Nature Plants. In order to determine whether this was a new species, Struwe compared it against all 200 known members of the genus, visiting multiple museums in order to do so, BBC reports. Both scientists suspect that the flowers would have been toxic to any animals that chanced upon them.

 

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