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Else Marie Friis

Catanthus, an extinct magnoliid flower from the Early Cretaceous of Portugal

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Premise of research. Early Cretaceous flowers recovered from Portugal and North America are some of the oldest and most informative angiosperm structures known. Analyses of this material provide a more direct basis for inferring floral structure and biology in early angiosperms than extrapolations based solely on extant taxa, and they have documented an unanticipated diversity of angiosperms, including the presence of many extinct forms, during the Early Cretaceous. The fossil flower described here from the Early Cretaceous of Portugal adds to the knowledge of this extinct diversity. Methodology. Coalified fossil flowers were extracted from unconsolidated sediments and cleaned with HF, HCl, and water. Details were studied using scanning electron microscopy and synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy. Phylogenetic relationships were evaluated by adding the fossil to a phylogenetic analysis of extant basal angiosperms based on morphological characters but constrained according to a topology based on molecular data. Pivotal results. A new genus and species, Catanthus dolichostemon, are described on the basis of the fossil flowers. The perianth consists of three thick sepal-like tepals in an outer whorl and six thinner petallike tepals in two inner whorls. The androecium consists of several whorls of stamens with long, broad filaments and anthers with extrorse dehiscence. Pollen is trichotomocolpate and possibly monocolpate. The gynoecium is superior and apocarpous, consisting of six or, rarely, five carpels. Analysis of the phylogenetic position of Catanthus suggests a relationship to Canellales and Magnoliales. Conclusions. Catanthus is a new Early Cretaceous magnoliid angiosperm for which the relationship to the two major clades of extant magnoliids (Laurales 1 Magnoliales or Canellales 1 Piperales) is not resolved securely. Catanthus adds to the evidence of substantial extinct diversity among early angiosperms, including the presence of extinct forms related to extant magnoliids, and it is consistent with a general pattern that angiosperm assemblages from the middle Albian and earlier are dominated by noneudicots.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Plant Sciences
Vol/bind182
Nummer1
Sider (fra-til)28-45
Antal sider18
ISSN1058-5893
DOI
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2021

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