Seed dormancy would have ensured that the seeds of early angiosperms could survive until conditions for germination and seedling establishment were favorable, Friis said. However, the tiny embryo size and modest nutrient reserves would also have been a constraint on the rapidity with which these early angiosperms could have germinated in response to short-lived moisture availability.
“This is important because it suggests that while early angiosperms may have had many characteristics of modern weedy early colonizers, they would have been unable to match the very rapid germination of the many different kinds of angiosperm herbs that evolved later and that ultimately proved even more effective in exploiting ephemeral ecological opportunities,” Friis said.
Added Crane: “This is the first time that we have had direct fossil evidence of the embryos of early angiosperms and how they compare with those of living plants. These observations have given us critical insights into the early part of the life cycle of early angiosperms, which is important for understanding the ecology of flowering plants during their emergence and dramatic radiation through the Early Cretaceous.”
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