Never mind orchids… asparagus?

Cool. Now there is evidence that orchids have been in existence since dinosaurs were running around the earth.

A 15-20 million year old bee has been discovered preserved in amber, with orchid pollen on its back. Apparently this helps end a certain amount of debate over how long orchids have been around:

Proponents of an older age for orchids had cited their ubiquity around the world, their close evolutionary kinship with the ancient asparagus family, and their bewildering diversity: Some 20,000 to 30,000 species strong, the showy plants comprise some 8 percent of all flowering species worldwide.

By applying the so-called molecular clock method, the scientists also estimated the age of the major branches of the orchid family. To their surprise, they found that certain groups of modern orchids, including the highly prized genus Vanilla, evolved very early during the rise of the plant family.

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