Benedict, John .
The fossil history of Zingiberales and new insights based on fossil and extant members.
The fossil record of Zingiberales extends from the late Cretaceous to the Pliocene in Europe and to the Eocene in North America. Fossils recognized in this order include leaves (e.g. Zingiberopsis and Musopsis), rhizomes and 7 fruit and seed species. The most widely distributed and most completely studied fruit genus is Spirematospermum, which is known from many localities in Europe and at least one site in eastern North America. Originally described as Gardenia wetzleri Heer (Rubiaceae), the genus was renamed Spirematospermum wetzleri by Chandler who suggested its affinities were with Zingiberaceae. The most informative fossils of Spirematospermum are anatomically preserved fruits from the middle Miocene flora of Fasterholt, Denmark studied by Friedrich and Koch. Spirematospermum has been assigned to either Musaceae or Zingiberaceae based on a combination of fruit and seed characters. One of the main characters that was used to ally Spirematospermum with Musaceae is the transverse septum at the chalazal end of the seed that delimits the chalazal chamber. This character was thought to be unique to Musaceae, however it is now also known in some species of Alpina (Zingiberaceae). Because this character is not limited to Musaceae today, it cannot be used to conclusively place Spirematospermum in this family. Anatomically preserved fossil seeds from the late Paleocene of North Dakota that are very similar to Spirematospermum are being studied serially by the cellulose acetate peel method. The presence of a Spirematospermum-like plant in the Paleocene of North Dakota is intriguing since it further documents the floristic elements shared with the Almont-Beicegel Creek floras and those from Europe.
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1 - Arizona State University, School Of Life Sciences, PO Box 4601, Tempe, AZ, 85287-4601, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Lindell C/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 1:30 PM