Back when humans did not inhabit the world, there was only process that was pushing life forward: photosynthesis. It all started from organisms with a single cell, but then it quickly evolved into algae, from algae to mosses and from mosses to ferns. These organisms could draw energy from the sun and make it their own, fueling life on Earth.
The plants that we know and see today were not always like this. They had predecessors, older plants which had existed for many years before mammals and dinosaurs started walking the earth. We want to talk evolution, but it is impossible to talk about evolution without looking back at what we started with.
A number of fossilized plants have been recently discovered and this knowledge started heating up debates about the relationship that nature has with these early specimens. Some of them were discovered in the Pyrenees around one century ago, but scientists did not know what to make of them. They did not know if they were mosses, conifers or flowering plants.
But now a team of paleobotantists, under the careful aid of Bernard Gomez, have identified a fossil known as Montsechia which they believe to have lived approximately 130 million years ago and represents one of the earliest examples of an aquatic plant.
After having studied the many collected fossils, the experts are certain that this very old specimen flowered and was pollinated under water, leading a similar lifestyle as the Ceratophyllum that we are very much aware of to this day.
In general, flowers are known to be “reproduction problem solvers”, adapting to the environment and trying to create new genetic material. The Montsechia understood its conditions and used water in order to disperse its pollen, reproducing without the aid of insects or wind.
Based on all the conducted studies, scientists believe that the Montsechia grew in lakes with fresh water and was completely submerged. It is classified as a flowering plant, despite having no actual flowers or not being similar to plants that we can see today. But the fact that it has seeds in her fruits makes her a worthy candidate for the flowering category.
What is truly fascinating is that the Montsechia did not appear to have any male flowers, like the majority have today. It seems as though Montsechia had a different set of flowers which contained pollen organs and carpels. This is the way the plant managed to reproduce over the years.