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  • Author: Kaj Raunsgaard Pedersen x
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Extinct Taxa of Exotestal Seeds Close to Austrobaileyales and Nymphaeales From the Early Cretaceous of Portugal

Abstract

Early Cretaceous mesofossil floras from Portugal and North America include a surprising diversity of small, bitegmic angiosperm seeds with a hard exotestal seed coat. This study describes six different kinds of these seeds from three Portuguese mesofossil localities; Vale de Agua, Torres Vedras, and especially from Famalicão, which has yielded a flora exceptionally rich in exotestal seeds. All the seeds are almost smooth with a characteristic jigsaw puzzle-shaped surface pattern that is formed from the strongly undulate anticlinal walls of the sclerenchyma cells that comprise the exotesta. Several specimens have internal details preserved, including remains of a cellular nutritive tissue interpreted as endosperm, and a tiny embryo with two rudimentary cotyledons. Based on differences in details of the seed coat, and configuration of hilum and micropyle, the fossil seeds are assigned to six new genera, as six new species: Gastonispermum portugallicum gen. et sp. nov., Pazlia hilaris gen. et sp. nov., Pazliopsis reyi gen. et sp. nov., Reyispermum parvum gen. et sp. nov., Lusitanispermum choffatii gen. et sp. nov. and Silutanispermum kvacekiorum gen. et sp. nov. The characteristic exotestal cells with undulate anticlinal walls, details of the hilar and micropylar region, together with the tiny dicotyledonous embryos with rudimentary cotyledons, suggest close relationships to seeds of Nitaspermum and Tanispermum described previously from Early Cretaceous mesofossil floras from eastern North America. These exotestal seeds from Portugal and North America indicate the presence of diverse extinct early angiosperms close to the lineages that today include extant Austrobaileyales and Nymphaeales.

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Rightcania and Kvacekispermum: Early Cretaceous Seeds From Eastern North America and Portugal Provide Further Evidence of the Early Chloranthoid Diversification

Abstract

Abundant flowers, fruits, seeds and stamens that are closely related to extant Chloranthaceae have been reported from the Early Cretaceous floras of Portugal. Among these are small berries with endotestal seeds assigned to the extinct genera Canrightia and Canrightiopsis. Here we describe two new genera, each including a single species, based on fossil fruits and seeds from the Early Cretaceous of eastern North America and Portugal. Both genera have pendent, orthotropous, bitegmic and endotestal ovules/seeds, in which the endotesta consists of a layer of cubic to palisade-shaped crystal cells with endoreticulate fibrous infillings, a combination of features that also characterize Canrightia and Canrightiopsis and that among extant angiosperms are known only for members of the Chloranthaceae. Rightcania kvacekii gen. et sp. nov. from the early to middle Albian Puddledock mesofossil flora of Virginia, USA, is the first representative in the Early Cretaceous floras of North America of a chloranthaceous fossil related to Canrightia and Canrightiopsis. It has three- to five-seeded fruits very similar to fruits and seeds of Canrightia, also with a pronounced tegmen that probably functioned as a nutritive tissue for the developing embryo. Fruits and seeds of Rightcania are larger than those of Canrightia, and also differ in details of the seed coat. Kvacekispermum rugosum gen. et sp. nov. is rare in the late Aptian to early Albian Portuguese mesofossil flora from Vale de Água. It differs from Canrightiopsis in the coarsely rugulate outer surface of the endotesta and its larger size, but is closely similar in the general structure of seed coat and nutritive tissue. Together, Rightcania and Kvacekispermum provide further evidence of the early diversity achieved by chloranthoid angiosperms before the end of the Early Cretaceous.

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