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Zhangwuia: an enigmatic organ with a bennettitalean appearance and enclosed ovules

  • Zhong-Jian Liu (a1), Ye-Mao Hou (a2) and Xin Wang (a3)
Abstract

The feature distinguishing typical angiosperms from gymnosperms is that their ovules are enclosed before pollination. Bennettitales were formerly related to angiosperms because of the flower-like organisation of the former's reproductive organs. There is little information on how the naked ovules of Bennettitales became enclosed in angiosperms because fossil evidence for such a transition, if it exists, has not been described. Here, we report a reproductive organ, Zhangwuia gen. nov., from the Middle Jurassic of Inner Mongolia, China. Like many Bennettitales, the arrangement of the foliar parts around the female part in Zhangwuia demonstrates a resemblance to typical angiosperm flowers. It is noteworthy that the ovule is secluded from the exterior space in Zhangwuia, therefore implying the existence of angio-ovuly. Although Bennettitales have been related to angiosperms for more than a hundred years, their way of ovule-enclosing was not previously revealed. The discovery of Zhangwuia prompts a rethinking of the relationship between Bennettitales and angiosperms, as well as of the origin of angiosperms.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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