The Fossil Record
The oldest unambiguous angiosperm fossil extends back at least to the early Cretaceous, conservatively around 132 million years ago (mya) (see Crane et al., 2004). Floral size, structure, and organization in early angiosperms varied tremendously, ranging from small (i.e., <1 cm in diameter) flowers of fossil Chloranthaceae and many other lineages (reviewed in Friis et al., 2000), to the large, Magnolia-like flowers of Archaeanthus (Dilcher and Crane, 1984). However, some early fossils, such as Archaefructus (Sun et al. 2002), appear to have no close extant relatives. The floral diversity in the fossil record is consistent with an early radiation of angiosperms and a diversification in floral form (e.g., Friis et al., 2000).
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