Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.Seed germination typically occurs in the ground after a seed has fallen, but several embryonic stems were captured emerging from the ancient pine cone in a rare botanical feat known as precocious germination, or viviparity, in which seeds sprout before leaving the fruit."That's part of what makes this discovery so intriguing, even beyond that it's the first fossil record of plant viviparity involving seed germination," said George Poinar Jr., a paleobiologist at the Oregon State College of Science and author of a study on the discovery, in a news release."I find it fascinating that the seeds in this small pine cone could start to germinate inside the cone and the sprouts could grow out so far before they perished in the resin."Precocious germination in pine cones is so rare that only one naturally occurring example of this condition, from 1965, has been described in scientific literature, Poinar said in the statement.
When seed germination does occur inside plants, it tends to be in things like fruit -- think of the baby pepper you sometimes see when you cut open a bell pepper -- but it's rare in gymnosperms such as conifers that produce "naked" or non-enclosed seeds.
The fossilized pine cone is from an extinct species of pine tree called Pinus cembrifolia.