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Detailed image of an orchid fossil

Oldest orchid fossil on record identified

Orchid fossil trapped in Baltic amber

The orchid family has some 28,000 species – more than double the number of bird species and quadruple the mammal species. As it turns out, they’ve also been around for a while.

A newly published study in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society by entomologist George Poinar in our Department of Integrative Biology documents evidence of an orchid fossil trapped in Baltic amber that dates back some 45 to 55 million years ago, shattering the previous record for an orchid fossil found in Dominican amber some 20-30 million years old. Evidence of this extinct species of orchid was discovered in the form of pollinaria trapped in a fossilized gnat's hind leg.

Read more here.