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Else Marie Friis

Melloniflora, a new extinct multiparted flower from the early cretaceous of virginia, usa

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Premise of research. The Puddledock mesofossil flora from Virginia is the richest source for studying structurally preserved plant fossils in the Early Cretaceous Potomac Group sequence. Together with other mesofossil floras from the Potomac Group and also from Portugal, it is key for direct assessment of the structure, relationships, and reproductive biology of early angiosperms. In this study, a new multiparted floral structure from the Puddledock locality is analyzed, and its phylogenetic relationships are discussed. Methodology. The fossil was extracted from unconsolidated clays and sands through sieving in water. Adhering sediment was removed using HF and HCl followed by rinsing in water. External and internal features were studied using scanning electron microscopy and synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy. Phylogenetic analyses were carried out by adding the features of the fossil flower to an existing morphological data set for extant angiosperms. Pivotal results. A new taxon, Melloniflora virginiensis gen. et sp. nov., is established on the basis of a small multiparted floral structure that has several series of free stamens (ca. 50) and carpels (21) borne on a flattened receptacle. Stamens have a broad, short base, and dehiscence is introrse. Ovules are borne in two rows on either side of the ventral suture of the carpels. Abundant secretory cells occur in all tissues. Melloniflora is related to extant early-diverging members of the Magnoliales but also has features found among extant taxa of other early-diverging angiosperm lineages such as Austrobaileyales. Conclusions. Melloniflora adds to the knowledge of plants related to extinct magnoliids from the Early Cretaceous. It shows a combination of features not seen in any extant taxon. Melloniflora contributes to the evidence of considerable extinct diversity at an early stage in angiosperm evolution, especially among clades that today are represented by only a few relatively species-poor lineages.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Plant Sciences
Sider (fra-til)887-897
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2020

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