A Rosid by any other name would be less abominably mysterious

Naming a mid-Cretaceous fossil as a modern genus could have far-reaching consequences for our understanding of angiosperm evolution

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What we call something doesn't change its physical characteristics. As Shakespeare pointed out, "A rose by an other name would smell as sweet". But when it comes to taxonomy, an organism's name is a hypothesis about its affinities with other organisms in the past or present. What we call something is has far reaching consequences. The recent naming of a mid-Cretaceous Rosid fossil as Phylica piloburmensis is a case in point. I explain why in this News & Views article in Nature Plants: Reconfiguring Darwin’s abominable mystery. Here is a free full-text link https://rdcu.be/cIarG.

Richard Buggs

Professor, Queen Mary University of London