Ancient Poisonous Flower Was Trapped in Amber for at Least 15 Million Years

February 19, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

Photo credit: George Poinar

Amazingly, it was found perfectly preserved.

Scientist at Rutgers have identified a new flower species that was trapped in ancient amber for more that 15 million years. The flower species, completely new to science, was named Strychnos electri — representing a new member of the genus Strychnos.

The flower fossil was among 500 other fossils excavated in 1986 by George Poinar from an amber mine in the Dominican Republic.

photo credit: George Poinar.  Image has been cropped.

Amber flower Strychnos

photo credit: George Poinar.  Image has been cropped.

Only recently did botanist, Lena Struwe from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, discover that two of the flowers encased in the amber contained the new genus of Strychnos. Their findings have been published in the journal Nature Plants.

For those who were wondering, amber is fossilized tree resin. It’s rather uncommon to find fully intact flower specimens preserved in the fossilized amber, making this discovery of Strychnos electri much more noteworthy after so many years.

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