Ancient Seeds Unearthed in India Reveal Origins of Frankincense Family

by Anna

In a breakthrough discovery, paleontologists have unraveled the mystery surrounding small, bead-like fossils found in India during the 1970s. Utilizing advanced CT scanning technology, researchers reconstructed 3D images of the fossils, revealing pyrenes—woody dispersal pods—instead of seeds. Through meticulous analysis, the fossils were identified as belonging to an extinct species in Burseraceae, the Frankincense family.

The findings, published in the Florida Museum of Natural History, shed light on the ancient vegetation of India during a tumultuous period marked by volcanic eruptions and continental drift. The fossils, preserved between thick volcanic slabs, provide a glimpse into the plant life that thrived amidst these geological upheavals.

Notably, these fossils, dating back to a time before the asteroid impact that ended the Cretaceous period, represent the oldest Burseraceae fossils discovered to date. The family’s origin has been a subject of uncertainty, and this revelation suggests that the southern hemisphere, specifically India, may have been the birthplace of the Frankincense family.

The study contributes valuable insights into the evolutionary history of Burseraceae, challenging previous assumptions about its geographical origins. The findings emphasize the significance of ancient plant fossils in unraveling Earth’s botanical past and understanding the global distribution of plant families.

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