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160-million-year-old gingko found in Liaoning

(People's Daily Online)    19:38, December 21, 2016

Photo provided by researcher Wang Yongdong

Recently, a rare living fossil of gingko biloba wood was found in western Liaoning province. A report on the discovery was subsequently published in Scientific Reports under the Nature Publishing Group. It is the oldest gingko wood fossil ever found, and has been named “Ginkgoxylon Liaoningense.”

Wang Yongdong, a researcher at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology under Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xdkb.net that the cell structure of the Ginkgoxylon Liaoningense is similar to that of modern ginkgos. This information is of vital importance to scientists studying the evolution of ginkgos and the natural environment of the Jurassic period. Previously, the oldest comparable fossil was 120 million year old, from the early Cretaceous period.

Wang believes gingko may have been eaten by some dinosaurs, given that the period in which it flourished was also the age of the dinosaurs. However, there is not sufficient evidence to be sure of the dietary habits of dinosaurs.

“There were at least 10 varieties of gingko 65 million years ago, but only one variety now,” added Wang. The mass extinction in that period caused the plant to lose much of its diversity. 

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