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Papuacedrus (Cupressaceae) in Eocene Patagonia: A new fossil link to Australasian rainforests.

Authors
  • Wilf, Peter
  • Little, Stefan A
  • Iglesias, Ari
  • Del Carmen Zamaloa, María
  • Gandolfo, María A
  • Cúneo, N Rubén
  • Johnson, Kirk R
Type
Published Article
Journal
American journal of botany
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2009
Volume
96
Issue
11
Pages
2031–2047
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3732/ajb.0900085
PMID: 21622323
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The 51.9 Ma Laguna del Hunco (LH) and 47.5 Ma Río Pichileufú (RP) floras from Patagonia, Argentina are unusually rich, angiosperm-dominated assemblages with living relatives in the low-latitude West Pacific, neotropics, and temperate southern latitudes. The diverse gymnosperms in these floras are important for Gondwanan biogeographic history and paleoclimatic interpretations. "Libocedrus" prechilensis Berry 1938 (Cupressaceae), previously known only from the holotype (RP), a vegetative branch, is revised here based on new material from both localities, including a seed cone attached to a shoot with cuticle (LH). Characters of these fossils are diagnostic of monotypic Papuacedrus (highlands of New Guinea and Moluccas). Living P. papuana is most abundant in cloud forests receiving up to 4 m rainfall annually, whereas Austrocedrus (Libocedrus) chilensis, the basis of comparison when the fossil species was named, inhabits dry, cold steppe margins to mediterranean climates in southern South America. We establish Papuacedrus prechilensis comb. nov., which simultaneously invalidates a southern South American connection for the fossil floras and reveals a link to West Pacific montane rainforests. Combined evidence indicates a biome similar to extant subtropical, or tropical montane, rainforests that persisted for at least 4.4 Myr, linking elevated floral richness to abundant rainfall.

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