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Eograminis balticus in yellow amber.

Oregon State fossil research leads to first description of grass in Baltic amber

By Steve Lundeberg

Fossilized grass Eograminis balticus lost one of its spikelets some 40 or 50 million years ago, along with an accompanying insect that had been feeding on it.

Amber research from the Department of Integrative Biology's George Poinar Jr. has produced the first definite identification of grass in fossilized tree resin from the Baltic region, home to the world’s most well-known amber deposits.

The specimen, named Eograminis balticus, also represents the first fossil member of Arundinoideae, a subfamily of the widespread Poaceae family that includes cereal grasses, bamboos and many species found in lawns and natural grasslands.

“The discovery not only adds a new plant group to the extensive flora that have been described from Baltic amber but provides new insights into the forest habitat the amber came from, a controversial topic in this field of study,” said Poinar, an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn more about the biology and ecology of the distant past.

Findings, now in preprint, will be published in the International Journal of Plant Sciences.

Check out the full story here.

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