An undiscovered species of flowers dubbed Strychnos electri by Rutgers botanist Lena Struwe has recently been found encased in amber.
According to Eurekalert, Oregon State University entomologist George Poinar had brought back these flowers along with 500 fossils from an amber mine in the Dominican Republic in 1986.
After several years of studying insects, the flowers finally caught his eye. He said, “I thought they might be Strychnos, and I sent them to Lena because I knew she was an expert in that genus.”
Lena Struwe was able to determine that the flower belonged to the genus Strychnos, which consists of tropical trees, shrubs and lianas, hence the name, Strychnos electri.
The species-specific part (the second part) of the name comes from the ancient Greek word for amber, elektron. Elektron most likely comes from an Indo-European verb with the root-meanings “brilliant” or “to shine.”
Struwe believes this plant could be poisonous, like other plants in this genus.
“The discovery of this new species in a 30-year-old amber collection highlights that we still have many undiscovered species hidden away in natural history collections worldwide and not enough taxonomic experts to work through them,” Struwe said, according to Washington Post.
“Strychnos electri has likely been extinct for a long time, but many new species living and, unfortunately, soon-to-be-extinct species are discovered by scientists every year.”