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Texas Tech to Host World Renowned Paleontologist

David Dilcher discovered the earliest flowering plants.

Written by John Davis

Dilcher

Dilcher

As part of the Horn Professor Lecture Series, the Museum of Texas Tech University will host one of the nation’s most famous paleontologists who discovered the earliest examples of flowers from 125 million years ago.

David Dilcher, emeritus professor at Indiana University, will discuss how he and his Chinese colleagues discovered some of the oldest angiosperms, solving Darwin’s “abominable mystery” of the origin and early evolution of flowering plants.

The event begins with a 6:30 p.m. reception and 7 p.m. lecture Thursday (April 10) in the Helen DeVitt Jones Sculpture Court at the museum, located at 3301 Fourth Street.

“David is a member of the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences,” said Sankar Chatterjee, Horn Professor of Paleontology. “Today, flowering plants are highly diverse with more than 250,000 species. However, their origin remained obscure for a long time. Discovering the oldest angiosperms, such as Archaefructus and Leefructus, from the early Cretaceous period in China is one of the most important findings in paleontology. It’s an honor to host a speaker of David’s caliber here at Texas Tech.”

Dilcher

Dilcher has explored the Mesozoic sediments of Argentina, Australia, China, India, Afghanistan and Europe to look for the early evidence of flowering plant evolution. Today, they dominate the landscape. However, during the age of the dinosaurs, flowers weren’t as plentiful.

Dilcher’s search for the “First Flower” opened a new window on how we view flower evolution. The Jurassic and early Cretaceous ancestors of flowering plants developed symbioses of pollination strategies and biochemical defenses to manage their genetics to their advantage, Chatterjee said.  The beauty of flowers that we enjoy and the fruits and seeds that maintain our health and energy are direct products of the evolution of flowering plants.

The Horn Professor Lecture Series is hosted by Texas Tech University President M. Duane Nellis and organized by Eileen Johnson, executive director of the museum. The event is free and open to the public, and casual business attire is preferred. For more information, call (806) 742-2490.

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Museum of Texas Tech
Museum of Texas Tech

The Museum of Texas Tech University was established in 1929.

It consists of the main Museum building, the Moody Planetarium, the Natural Science Research Laboratory, the research and educational elements of the Lubbock Lake Landmark, and the Val Verde County research site.

The museum also offers master’s degrees in Museum Science and Heritage Management and a wide variety of educational programs for the general public.

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The museum is located at Fourth Street and Indiana Ave. Museum hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, until 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. The museum is closed on Monday.

For more information, contact David Dean, director of Museum Information Services, (806) 742-2442, david.dean@ttu.edu.

To request special assistance, contact the Museum Education office at museum.education@ttu.edu or call (806) 742-2432.

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