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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 14(2)

Monimiaceae sensu lato, an element of Gondwanan polar forests: Evidence from the late Cretaceous-early tertiary wood flora of Antarctica

Imogen Poole and Helmut Gottwald

Australian Systematic Botany 14(2) 207 - 230
Published: 2001


Palaeofloristic studies of the Antarctic Peninsula region are important in furthering our understanding of (i) the radiation and rise to ecological dominance of the angiosperms in the Southern Hemisphere during the Late Cretaceous and (ii) the present day disjunct austral vegetation. Investigations of Upper Cretaceous and Early Tertiary sediments of this region yield a rich assemblage of well-preserved fossil dicotyledonous angiosperm wood which provides evidence for the existence, since the Late Cretaceous, of temperate forests similar in composition to those found in present-day southern South America, New Zealand and Australia. This paper describes two previously unrecognised morphotypes, which can be assigned to the Monimiaceae sensu lato, and represents the first record of this family in the wood flora of Antarctica. Specimens belonging to the first fossil morphotype have been assigned to Hedycaryoxylon SÜss (subfamily Monimioideae) because they exhibit anatomical features characteristic of Hedycaryoxylon and extant Hedycarya J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. and Tambourissa Sonn. Characters include diffuse porosity, vessels which are mainly solitary with scalariform perforation plates, opposite to scalariform intervascular pitting, paratracheal parenchyma, septate fibres and tall (>3 mm), wide multiseriate rays with a length: breadth ratio of approximately 1: 4. Specimens belonging to the second morphotype have been assigned to Atherospermoxylon KrÄusel, erected for fossil woods of the Monimiaceae in the tribe Atherospermeae (now Atherospermataceae) in that they exhibit anatomical features similar to Atherospermoxylon and extant Daphnandra Benth., Doryphora Endl. and Laurelia novae-zelandiae A.Cunn. These characters include diffuse to semi-ring porosity, scalariform perforation plates with up to 25 bars, septate fibres, relatively short (<1 mm) rays with a length: breadth ratio of between 1: 4 and 1: 11.

Full text doi:10.1071/SB00022

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