A team of scientists from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt Germany, the University of London, and the Florida Museum of Natural History presented the largest collection of Paleogene plants ever before seen in a 250 page monograph published in the journal Abhandlungen der Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (Transactions of the Senckenberg Nature Research Society) on July 27, 2012 and reviewed at the Alpha Galileo site the same day.
The researchers examined the collections from decades of research at the Messel pit site and discovered 140 different plant species, 65 of which were previously unknown. The Paleogene was between about 65 and 23 million years ago.
Flowering plants and some conifers were the predominant species found in the site that was once similar to present day tropical rain forests.
The huge biodiversity during the 32 million year history explored thus far in the Messel site includes numerous seed dispersal strategies including some plants wings on their seeds that relied on wind, some that relied on animals to spread their seeds, and others that developed exploding capsules to scatter their seeds over a wide area.
The scientists examined over 30,000 fossil plant remains from the collections at Senckenberg Institute and the Hessian State Museum in Darmstadt including pollen grains and flowering plants that had been stored but never examined previously.
Abhandlungen der SGN, 570
Margaret E. Collinson, Steven R. Manchester and Volker Wilde:
Fossil Fruits and Seeds of the Middle Eocene Messel biota, Germany
2012, 251 pp, 2 figs, 3 tabs, 76 plates, ISBN 978–3–510–61400–4