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The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the not-just-for-bees dept.

Science 21

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have unearthed the earliest evidence of a bird sipping nectar from a flower. The stomach contents of the 47-million-year-old fossil flyer — a long-extinct species of perching bird — include hundreds of grains of pollen. The ancient pollen grains are large and apparently clumped together readily, a clue that the plant that bore the flowers was pollinated by creatures and not by the wind."

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Can we regrow the source plant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47108219)

If we have pollen grains, theoretically we should be able to regrow or clone the plant that the pollin originated from. This could be an astounding scienfiic discovery.

Re:Can we regrow the source plant? (2)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | about 8 months ago | (#47108699)

Nope. Pollen = plant sperm. There would not be enough genetic material to successfully recreate the plant without the female gametes (notwithstanding the fact that after 47 million years the likelihood of enough surviving DNA is very small)

Re:Can we regrow the source plant? (-1, Troll)

freak0fnature (1838248) | about 8 months ago | (#47108871)

yet we have procedures today for gay couples to have biological children together...

It seems unlikely (1)

afidel (530433) | about 8 months ago | (#47108299)

It seems unlikely this was actually the first bird to pollinate a flower. Since the pollen was already too large to carry on the wind that would imply that the plant had already adapted away from self pollination and towards external pollinators, a process unlikely to happen suddenly.

Re:It seems unlikely (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47108371)

The title is inaccurate, but the summary is accurate, as it states "the earliest evidence of" not "the first bird."

Re:It seems unlikely (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47110289)

You don't know if it's accurate or not. It could very well be the first, however unlikely. Don't state speculation as fact.

Re:It seems unlikely (1)

someone1234 (830754) | about 8 months ago | (#47111211)

The pollen already evolved to support pollination by the bird. So it was not the first.

Re:It seems unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47113055)

Proof please.

Re:It seems unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47108683)

Unless it was a lot more windy in the area of where these massively well hung flowers grew.

Re:It seems unlikely (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 8 months ago | (#47111947)

Could have been the first bird. Insects could have been doing it first though. They've been flying around much longer - before the dinosaurs even.

Everyone remembers... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47108461)

the first bird that sipped their nectar!

The early bird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47108517)

The early bird...

...posts first!

the earliest bird.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47108635)

Wrong! The earliest bird was eaten by a pterodactyl before he could get the nectar...

Whew! (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about 8 months ago | (#47108925)

This question has been gnawing on me. I can sleep easy now.

Some missing information (4, Informative)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#47108929)

What's missing is where the scientist found the remainings of the bird, and who those scientists were.

The site is the wellknown Messel pit [wikipedia.org] , an UNESCO World Nature Heritage site. The scientists were a team from the nearby Senckenberg Museum [senckenberg.de] .

The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower (1)

danielpauldavis (1142767) | about 8 months ago | (#47110295)

I continue to be amazed at the blindness of these life-by-incremental-changes folk. Found within THIS set of rock strata or with THESE fossils = 47,000,000 years old, never mind that we found organic material still organic, still intact with it. More willing to say organic material won't decompose over 47,000,000 years than willing to say our dating methods need re-thinking. Couldn't possibly be 47,000 years, oh no, not at all. 4,700 years? Don't be thilly!

Re:The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 8 months ago | (#47112057)

No one said any organic material was found still intact. Pollen fossilises just like anything else.

Re:The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower (2)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#47113985)

Are you trolling? Hard to tell sometimes. Seal anything off from oxygen exchange and it will degrade very slowly if at all. (There is canned food from the Civil War that is still eatable.) Complex molecules such as DNA that are inherently unstable will fall apart, but simpler organic compounds have no reason to disassociate. There are carbon compounds in meteorites that are ten times that age.

Re:The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower (1)

danielpauldavis (1142767) | about 7 months ago | (#47122105)

I do note that you prefer insulting someone who disagrees with you to actually having a reasoned response to the points that the person disagrees with. Food from the Civil War? Pfftht! You're on the hook for 47,000,000 years, not 147. Try again with more science, less anger.

Re:The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower (1)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#47122889)

Anger? I actually wondered, since if it were a troll it was fairly well-done. Looked at your posting history just now, and you instead appear to be a young-earth creationist. You should spend some time investigating the multiple different methods used for dating, they're quite interesting even if they do give results you don't like. There are at least three dozen different methods of varying complexity and accuracy, about ten of which are in common use. If at all possible researchers try to use more than one method to date finds, to cross-check against contamination or other variables that could cause inaccuracy in the first test.

Anyway, as I said, seal a sample away from air and water and most of it will not change composition. There are insects that have been trapped in amber since before the dinosaurs walked the earth, long before this fossil, and the soft tissues are preserved perfectly. An X-ray or MRI of the sample will show the digestive tract, respiratory and circulatory systems, and mouth parts as though it were new.

The Early Bird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47115263)

I thought the Early Bird got the worm. Now I hear it's a flower, or nectar, or maybe pollen. Why am I forever missing the memo on these things?? If it weren't for the grapevine I wouldn't know anything that goes on around here! /MockRant

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