Valentine’s day (one day early)

February 13, 2021

Fiona made me a cake for tomorrow.

She asked me if the flowers were OK. I said there were flowering plants at the end of the Cretaceous, so this is acceptable so long as we interpret the sauropod as a titanosaur.

6 Responses to “Valentine’s day (one day early)”

  1. Nathan Myers Says:

    Since we now know that angiosperms date well back to the Jurassic period, we can adorn (many of) our sauropods with as many flowers as we like.

    We already knew there were bees, then, so we *probably* should have suspected there were flowers, too, but there’s nothing like a blossom trapped in amber to plug the gobs of nay-sayers.

    We may now wonder why the angiosperms had to wait for K-T before they, as it were, blossomed forth. Fiona may have hit upon the explanation: Sauropods preferred to drowse in and on flowerbeds, so the flowers were kept down until the sauropods were finally and suddenly obliged to give up the habit, the habitat, and the ghost.

  2. Matt Wedel Says:

    We may now wonder why the angiosperms had to wait for K-T before they, as it were, blossomed forth.

    I know you’re setting up a joke, and I’m not trying to be a joyless clod. But angiosperms didn’t wait for the K-T. At least in North America, the diversity and abundance of angiosperm pollen increases almost linearly from 125Ma to 65Ma, and from 90Ma on, some floras are 80% angiosperm, although the average is only 40% angios through the Late Cretaceous. According to the pollen record, there are no sudden jumps, no revolutions, no big extinction/replacement events, just the slow and steady spread of angiosperms over about 60 million years. This is all from Lupia et al. (1999). I’ve been meaning to blog about this for ages, you just gave me an opening!

    Lupia, R., Lidgard, S. and Crane, P.R., 1999. Comparing palynological abundance and diversity: implications for biotic replacement during the Cretaceous angiosperm radiation. Paleobiology, pp.305-340.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Hang on, though — given that we had angiosperms from the late Jurassic, and that they were increasing in prevalence through the Cretaceous, does it follow that we had flowers?

  4. Matt Wedel Says:

    Briefly: yes. The earliest fossil angiosperms are recognized by their flowers, not vice versa, and monocots and eudicots had diverged by the Aptian-Albian (Sauroposeidon time!).

    Sauquet et al. (2017):
    “The oldest confirmed fossil flowers are no older than 130 Ma, whereas estimates for the most recent common ancestor of all living angiosperms (that is, the age of our reconstructed ancestral flower) range between 140 and 250 Ma. By the time of the first extensive record of fossil flowers in the late Aptian and Albian (100–120 Ma), fossils indicate that the radiation of angiosperms had proceeded well into Nymphaeales, Magnoliidae, Chloranthaceae, early-diverging eudicots and early-diverging monocots.”

    Sauquet, H., von Balthazar, M., Magallón, S., Doyle, J.A., Endress, P.K., Bailes, E.J., de Morais, E.B., Bull-Hereñu, K., Carrive, L., Chartier, M. and Chomicki, G., 2017. The ancestral flower of angiosperms and its early diversification. Nature Communications, 8(1), pp.1-10.

  5. Mike Taylor Says:

    Wow. Things move fast.

    Next thing, you’ll be telling me that volcanoes weren’t constantly erupting in the background of every dinosaur scene throughout the Mesozoic.

  6. Matt Wedel Says:

    If I learned one thing from the dinosaur books of my childhood, it’s that volcanoes didn’t evolve the ability to not erupt until roughly the start of the Ice Age.


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