|Lotus Flower Fruit, Nelumbo|
The awesome possums from GRS are based out of North Logan, Utah, USA and have unearthed some world-class specimens. They've found Nelumbo leaves over the years but this is their first fossil specimen of the fruit.
And what a specimen it is! The spectacularly preserved fruit measures 6-1/2" round. Here you can see both the part and counterpart in fine detail. Doug Miller of Green River Stone sent copies to me this past summer and a copy to the deeply awesome Kirk Johnson, resident palaeontologist over at the Smithsonian Institute, to confirm the identification.
There is another spectacular specimen from Fossil Butte National Monument. They shared photos of a Nelumbo just yesterday. Nelumbo is a genus of aquatic plants in the order Proteales found living in freshwater ponds. You'll recognize them as the emblem of India, Vietnam and many wellness centres.
|Nelumbo Fruit, Green River Formation|
In the older classification systems, it was recognized under the biological order Nymphaeales or Nelumbonales. Nelumbo is currently recognized as the only living genus in Nelumbonaceae, one of several distinctive families in the eudicot order of the Proteales. Its closest living relatives, the (Proteaceae and Platanaceae), are shrubs or trees.
Interestingly, these lovelies can thermoregulate, producing heat. Nelumbo uses the alternative oxidase pathway (AOX) to exchange electrons. Instead of using the typical cytochrome complex pathway most plants use to power mitochondria, they instead use their cyanide-resistant alternative.
This is perhaps to generate a wee bit more scent in their blooms and attract more pollinators. The use of this thermogenic feature would have also allowed thermo-sensitive pollinators to seek out the plants at night and possibly use the cover of darkness to linger and mate.
So they functioned a bit little like a romantic evening meeting spot for lovers and a wee bit like the scent diffuser in your home. This lovely has an old lineage with fossil species in Eurasia and North America going back to the Cretaceous and represented in the Paleogene and Neogene. Photo Two: Doug Miller of Green River Stone Company