The discovery of exceptionally well-preserved, tiny fossil seeds dating back to the Early Cretaceous corroborates that flowering plants were small opportunistic colonizers at that time, according to a new study.
Angiosperms, or flowering plants, diversified during the Early Cretaceous, about 100 to 130 million years ago. Based on evidence from living and fossil plants, the earliest angiosperms are usually thought to have had small stature. New data from the fossil record presented here strongly support this notion, but also indicates key differences from modern flowering plants.
The small seed embryos -- less than 0.3 millimeters in size -- and their surrounding nutrient storage tissues in well-preserved seeds were found in eastern North America and Portugal.