Flowers for Allosaurus

This perfectly fossilized flower has been unearthed 125 million years after it grew. Some scientists speculate that it was part of a revolution that took down the dinosaurs.

If you had to choose between dinosaurs and flowers, which would you choose? It looks like nature had exactly that choice, and went with the posies. The Cretaceous period saw the fall of the larger, non-avian dinosaurs and the rise of flowering plants. Scientists speculate that angiosperms - plants that reproduce via flowers - were part of what wiped out the larger dinosaurs.

Scientists in China recently found a near-perfect pressed flower fossil. Leefructus mirus was one of the first flowering plants, may have been one of the soldiers in the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution, a period that saw a massive diversification of mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles, but no large dinosaurs.

The flowers didn't mean to slay the monsters, of course. Angiosperms were the first plants that used flowers to entice animals into spreading their pollen. Past plants had relied primarily on wind and water. Any creature could have taken them up on their offer, but smaller, lighter creatures were well-placed to take advantage of the new source of food. Larger dinosaurs weren't going to switch their diet to get a few drops of nectar. The angiosperms' efficient means of reproduction let them spread quickly, out-breeding existing plants. Large dinosaurs watched their food disappear in front of them, and then disappeared with it.

So next time Valentine's Day rolls around, hold off on the roses. Sure, it looks like they're only armed with their thorns, but they're still the descendents of the plants that took down many of the dinosaurs. Also, at that point they're usually overpriced.

Via New Scientist and Jrank.