Projects per year
Flowering plants (angiosperms) are the most diverse of all land plants, becoming abundant in the Cretaceous and achieving dominance in the Cenozoic. However, the exact timing of their origin remains a controversial topic, with molecular clocks generally placing their origin much further back in time than the oldest unequivocal fossils. To resolve this discrepancy, we developed a Bayesian method to estimate the ages of angiosperm families on the basis of the fossil record (a newly compiled dataset of ~15,000 occurrences in 198 families) and their living diversity. Our results indicate that several families originated in the Jurassic, strongly rejecting a Cretaceous origin for the group. We report a marked increase in lineage accumulation from 125 to 72 million years ago, supporting Darwin’s hypothesis of a rapid Cretaceous angiosperm diversification. Our results demonstrate that a pre-Cretaceous origin of angiosperms is supported not only by molecular clock approaches but also by analyses of the fossil record that explicitly correct for incomplete sampling.
25/03/16 → 31/12/21