name = "Archaefructus"
fossil_range = Early Cretaceous

image_caption = "Archaefructus liaoningensis"
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
familia = Archaefructaceae
familia_authority = Sun, Ji, Dilcher, Zheng, Nixon & Wang
genus = "Archaefructus"
genus_authority = Sun, Dilcher, Zheng & Zhou
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision ="Archaefructus eoflora"
"Archaefructus liaoningensis"
"Archaefructus sinensis"

"Archaefructus" is an extinct genus of herbaceous aquatic seed plants with two known species. Fossil material assigned to this genus originates from the Yixian Formation in northeastern China, originally dated as late Jurassic but now thought to be approximately 125 million years old, or early Cretaceous in age. Even with its revised age, "Archaefructus" has been proposed to be one of the earliest known genera of flowering plants.

Because of its age, and because it lacks sepals and petals and its reproductive organs, interpreted as carpels and stamens, are produced on an elongate stem rather than condensed into a flower as in modern angiosperms, Archaefructaceae has been proposed as a new basal angiosperm family. [Sun, G., Q. Ji, D.L. Dilcher, S. Zheng, K.C. Nixon & X. Wang 2002. [ Archaefructaceae, a New Basal Angiosperm Family] . "Science" 296(5569): 899–904.] An alternate interpretation of the same fossil, however, interprets the elongate stem as an inflorescence rather than a flower, with staminate (male) flowers below and pistillate (female) flower above. [Friis, E.M., J.A. Doyle, P.K. Endress & Q. Leng 2003. "Archaefructus" – Angiosperm precursor or specialized early angiosperm? "Trends in Plant Sciences" 8: 369–373.] The discovery of "Archaefructus eoflora" [Ji, Q., H. Li, L.M. Bowe, Y. Liu & D.W. Taylor 2004. PDFlink| [ Early Cretaceous "Archaefructus eoflora" sp. nov. with Bisexual Flowers from Beipiao, Western Liaoning, China.] |3.11 MiB "Acta Geologica Sinica" 78(4): 883–896.] supports this interpretation, because a bisexual flower is present in the region between staminate and pistillate organs. If this interpretation is correct, "Archaefructus" may not be basal within angiosperms, rather it may be close to the Nymphaeales or the basal eudicots.


External links

* [ In Search of the First Flower: A Jurassic Angiosperm, "Archaefructus", from Northeast China]
* [ Virtual Fossil Collection: "Archaefructus"]

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