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First Flower

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First Flower

Broadcast (2007) In a story blooming with beauty and scientific mystery, this program explores the incredible truth that lies behind the ravishing flowers we so love to behold: that humans could not have existed or evolved without them. "First Flower" probes the controversial discovery of Archaefructus, a Chinese fossil scientists believe is the earliest evidence of a flower yet found on Earth. Following the trail of clues to the fossil's origins, a vivid journey takes NOVA's cameras deep into the lush wilds of China, giving audiences a view into a spectacular living safety deposit box, where some of the world's most beloved flowers originated (see Mother of Gardens).

Flowers have long been at the center of human life. They grace our gardens, brighten our homes, express our gratitude, and even reveal the secrets of our hearts. But they are also essential to human survival. Flowering plants—which include not just our favorite roses, daffodils, and orchids but also wheat, rice, and corn—provide food and medicine and drive national economies. Yet for all our love and need of flowers, until recently, the basic questions about how flowers evolved into the most important and prolific of plants have confounded scientists. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin himself called the dazzling variety of flowers "an abominable mystery," and the puzzle of how flowers came to make up 95 percent of all plants on Earth continues today.

In "First Flower", an intrepid group of botanists and paleobotanists reveal how that "abominable mystery" is starting to move towards a solution. Flowers have always ignited passion, and NOVA captures in glorious images how they are continuing to inspire new scientific discoveries today.

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