The type specimen of Nilssoniopteris solitaria (Phillips 1829) (Bennettitales)

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Abstract

We identified and located the type specimen of Scolopendrium solitarium, which is the basionym to what for decades was commonly referred to as “Nilssoniopteris vittata” and is now known as Nilssoniopteris solitaria (Phillips) Cleal et P.M.Rees. As Cleal and Rees (2003) never located and studied the type specimen of Scolopendrium solitarium and simply trusted Harris (1969), who included Scolopendrium solitarium in the synonymy of Nilssoniopteris vittata, it remained to be shown that this specimen indeed has bennettitalean affinities. Here we provide results of a cuticular analysis of the material and confirm the bennettitalean nature of Scolopendrium solitarium, and consequently that its placement in Nilssoniopteris solitaria is valid. Nilssoniopteris solitaria is, as a senior synonym of Nilssoniopteris tenuinervis, the type species of Nilssoniopteris. The name “Nilssoniopteris vittata” should no longer be used because it was based on Taeniopteris vittata, which is the conserved type of Taeniopteris, a genus in which taeniopterid fossils are placed if epidermal anatomy is unknown. Specimens identified as this species but yielding a bennettitalean cuticle should be referred to as Nilssoniopteris solitaria.

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Acta Palaeobotanica

The Journal of W. Szafer Institute of Botany of Polish Academy of Sciences

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