The Early Cretaceous mesofossil flora of Torres Vedras (NE of Forte da Forca), Portugal: a palaeofloristic analysis of an early angiosperm community


An Early Cretaceous mesofossil flora is described from the lower part of the Almargem Formation (late Barremian-early Aptian) from Torres Vedras (NE of Forte da Forca), Portugal. The flora is the oldest mesofossil flora containing angiosperm remains to be described in detail based on well-preserved flower, fruit and seed remains. In addition to angiosperms, the mesofossil flora also includes megaspores, sporangia and tiny leaves of spore-bearing plants. There are also twigs, cone fragments and seeds of conifers and seeds assigned to the BEG group. In total about 100 species have been distinguished. Most abundant in terms of plant fragments identified, are spore-bearing plants and conifers. Although only about 18 % of the specimens can be attributed to angiosperms, angiosperm diversity is unexpected high considering the age of the flora. Angiosperms account for about 62 % of all species recognized. Angiosperm diversity is mainly at the level of ANA-grade angiosperms, eumagnoliids and in a few cases early diverging lineages of monocots. Eudicots are subordinate. Twenty new genera and 28 new species of angiosperms are established Anaspermum operculatum gen. et sp. nov., Appofructus nudus gen. et sp. nov., Appomattoxia minuta sp. nov., Burgeria striata gen. et sp. nov., Canrightia elongata sp. nov., Choffaticarpus compactus gen. et sp. nov., Dejaxia brevicolpites gen. et sp. nov., Dinisia portugallica gen. et sp. nov., Eckhartia brevicolumella gen. et sp. nov., Eckhartia longicolumella sp. nov., Eckhartia intermedia sp. nov., Eckhartianthus lusitanicus gen. et sp. nov., Eckhartiopsis parva gen. et sp. nov., Gastonispermum antiquum sp. nov., Goczania rugosa gen. et sp. nov., Goczania inaequalis sp. nov., Goczania punctata sp. nov., Ibrahimia verminculata gen. et sp. nov., Juhaszia portugallica gen. et sp. nov., Kempia longicolpites gen. et sp. nov., Kvacekispermum costatum sp. nov., Mcdougallia irregularis gen. et sp. nov., Nicholsia brevicolpites gen. et sp. nov., Piercipollis simplex gen. et sp. nov., Reyanthus lusitanicus gen. et sp. nov., Samylinaea punctata gen. et sp. nov., Teebacia hughesii gen. et sp. nov., Vedresia elliptica gen. et sp. nov.). Comparison with results of a palynological study from the same horizon that yielded the mesofossil flora shows a marked underestimation of angiosperm diversity in the palynoflora, a pattern that has also been recognized elsewhere.

Key words

early eudicots, fossil flowers, fossil seeds, fossil megaspores, fossil stamens, mesofossil flora, Sergipea, synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy (SRXTM), tricolpate pollen