Scientists Reveal the True Identity of the Largest Known Amber-Encased Flower Fossil

An ancient amber-preserved fossilized bloom has recently stirred curiosity among scientists. In 1872, scientists unearthed a large fossil specimen from a mine. After a few examinations, they identified the flora species as Stewartia kowalewskii, an extinct evergreen flowering plant. Then for the next 150 years, this immortalized blossom largely remained forgotten, sitting in a German museum collection.

The Mistaken Identity

A recent reexamination of the specimen has made researchers announce that the flower’s identity was mistaken till now. Using new technology, they’ve recently concluded that the flower in the fossil came from Symplocos, an entirely different genus of flowering species growing today in Japan and southeast China. They also proposed a new name for the amber-preserved flower fossil- Symplocos kowalewskii. The researchers shared more of their new findings in a recent paper published in Scientific Reports.

The Flower Fossil

The long saga of the fossil likely began during the late Eocene, some 34-38 million years ago. The natural preservation occurred near the Baltic Sea, now in Russia. A big blob of sticky resin oozed out from a conifer tree, and a large five-petal flower got coated by that tacky substance, which solidified into amber over time. Amber-encased plants are usually uncommon, with just 1-3% of botanical organisms found to be trapped in Baltic amber. As it takes a lot of resin to surround a big bloom, large flower fossils are even rarer. Singular preserved flowers are usually quite small, but this particular fossilized amber flower is more than an inch wide. It’s the largest known amber-preserved bloom in the world, three times larger than its successor.

The Recent Study

Eva-Maria Sadowski, a paleobotanist and paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in Berlin, learned about the massive amber-preserved prehistoric flower stored as a part of the tree-resin collection at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany. Believing the size an exaggeration, Sadowski decided to check for herself and eventually laid eyes on specimen X4088, the official name of the fossil in the museum. Her scientific curiosity intrigued her to study the fossilized blossom further.

The New Analysis

After polishing the amber block, Sadowski examined the flower under a scanning electron microscope, which revealed that, along with the stamens and petals of the flower, the amber also had preserved tiny grains of pollen. Using extremely high magnification, Sadowski and her collaborator Christa-Charlotte Hofmann analyzed the morphological details of the pollen grains and inspected the blossom’s anatomy closely, which led them to their conclusion.

NBA Star Dwayne Wade Talks About Leaving Basketball Behind

Dwayne Wade has played in a total of 13 NBA All-Star games during his career, which consisted of 16 seasons. Last season, the now-former NBA star retired, but he recently went back to Chicago to be a TNT analyst and judge for the Saturday night Slam Dunk contest.

Mar 7, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade
NBA Star Dwayne Wade Talks About Leaving Basketball Behind

Wade was asked if he thought he could still hang with the best NBA players after he watched them play in the All-Star games. His response was, “Absolutely not.” He also mentioned that he’s not in prime basketball shape anymore and that he didn’t play basketball anymore even though he thought he would.

Dwayne Wade Making History for the Heat

Dwayne Wade Making History for the Heat
NBA Star Dwayne Wade Talks About Leaving Basketball Behind

During All-Star Weekend, the Miami Heat planned a big multi-night celebration in honor of Dwayne Wade. This included retiring his #3 jersey and honoring him as the team’s all-time leading scorer. He also helped the team win an NBA title in 2006, playing alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh to win in 2010, along with two more NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.

There was also a screening of a documentary based on Wade’s life and his career – “D.Wade Life Unexpected.” It showcases his disruptive upbringing as a child in Chicago to his rise to NBA stardom. It also touched on his personal life in terms of his divorce, custody battle for his children, current marriage to Gabrielle Union, along with his support for his daughter Zaya and her gender identity.

Making the Decision to Retire

During the interview with GQ, Wayde talks about moving out of his dad’s house when he was 16 to move in with his then-girlfriend and her mother. At that time, Wade realized that he wanted to pursue his basketball dreams actively and that he would have to do it on his own.

Wade was asked if he felt similarly about when he was retiring, to which he answered positively and that it was his time to go. His thoughts about retiring didn’t come from him thinking that he couldn’t compete with some of the new stars. He most definitely feels that he can if he keeps his body in shape. He just woke up one day and had a different vision.