A new study has found that the compounds behind the perfumes and fragrances you enjoy have been provoking olfactory pleasure since the times dinosaurs lived on earth.
"I bet some of the dinosaurs could have detected the scents of these early flowers," said George Poinar, an entomologist at Oregon State University.
"In fact, floral essences from these early flowers could even have attracted these giant reptiles," said Poinar. ALSO READ | SpaceX successfully re-launches Falcon 9; may go into space for the third time
They still play the role even though today's flowers also have colourful petals for luring pollinators, according to the study published in the journal Historical Biology.
The floral fragrances originated in primitive flowers as far back as 100 million years ago as pollinator attractants researchers at Oregon State University in the US have found.
The researchers examined amber flowers from Myanmar, including the now extinct glandular laurel flower (Cascolaurus burmensis) and veined starflower (Tropidogyne pentaptera).
The research revealed that the flower-based chemical compounds that are the basis for the perfumes we use today have been giving olfactory excitement to pollinating insects and other animals since the mid-Cretaceous Period. Without colourful petals, flowers relied on scents to attract pollinators. "You can't detect scents or analyse the chemical components of fossil flowers, but you can find the tissues responsible for the scents," said Poinar.
The study also found that secretory tissues of these Cretaceous flowers are similar in structure to those of their modern descendants. That suggests modern and ancient flowers of the same lineages produced similar essences. ALSO READ | NASA's planet-hunting probe catches comet in action
The study also included an acacia flower (Senegalia eocaribbeansis) in 20- to 30-million-year-old Dominican Republic amber and milkweed flower (Discoflorus neotropicus). It is attracted mostly by the bees, one of which was fossilized while visiting the stamens. Today, honeybees are still visiting acacia that existed in the ancient past.