Fla. Museum research screened at international science media festival in Italy

April 7th, 2008

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The PBS NOVA documentary “First Flower,” featuring Florida Museum of Natural History paleobotanist David Dilcher, recently bloomed on screen in Milan, Italy, at the Vedere la Scienza Festival, an international festival celebrating science-themed media.

“First Flower looks at questions regarding the nature of the first flowers on earth, and also the beautiful diversity of living flowers in the mountains of south central China,” said Dilcher, a member of the National Academy of Sciences. “The beauty of the flowers featured and the intrigue of looking for the origin of flowering plants, and how they are related to one another, makes this a film that people enjoy. It’s a film everyone can learn something from.”

“First Flower,” which aired at the festival April 2, depicts Dilcher’s work, along with his colleague Sun Ge of Jilin University in Changchun, China. Together, the researchers described a 125-million-year-old fossil flowering plant they named Archaefructus liaoningensis, which means “ancient fruit from Liaoning Province of northeast China.” Features of the plant’s seed-containing fruits led Dilcher to conclude it was one of the earliest forms of flowering plants. The journal Science featured Dilcher’s research on its cover in 1998 and 2002.

Pamela and Doug Soltis, Florida Museum researchers who study plant and flower DNA to understand the evolutionary origins and relationships between flowers and flowering plants, also are interviewed in “First Flower.”

The Vedere la Scienza Festival ran from March 31 to April 6. According to its web site, www.brera.unimi.it/film/en/index.php, the festival features “films by independent producers and big production companies, short videos, documentaries and TV movies, unreleased works and classic movies” of different genres but united thematically by the common goal of communicating science.

“First Flower” will air again in the United States in early May. For broadcast information, see www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/schedule.html.

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Writer: DeLene Beeland
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu