The Early Cretaceous mesofossil flora of Catefica, Portugal: angiosperms


Angiosperm mesofossils are described from the Lower Cretaceous Almargem Formation exposed near the village of Catefica, Portugal, and are thought to be of Aptian-early Albian age. The mesofossil assemblage from Catefica is diverse and, in addition to the angiosperms described here, also contains a rich assemblage of non-angiosperm fossils, including leafy axes of bryophytes and lycopsids, lycopsid and salvinialean megaspores, and sporangia, sori and leaf fragments of ferns. There are also twigs, cones, cone scales, seeds and sporangia of several kinds of conifers. Other seed plants include 11 species of chlamydospermous seeds and vegetative axes related to the BEG group (Bennettiales-Erdtmanithecales-Gnetales). In terms of the number of plant fragments identified, angiosperms are most abundant in the Catefica assemblage and account for more than half of all specimens. Angiosperms also dominate in number of species, but because the non-angiosperm fossils have not been studied in detail the total number of species in the flora is not yet established. Sixty-seven species of angiosperms are recognized. Angiosperm diversity is mainly at the level of non-eudicots, including ANA-grade angiosperms, Chloranthaceae and magnoliids. Remains of chloranthoid angiosperms are especially common, both in the number of specimens and in number of species recognized. About 40 % of the specimens, and more than 25 % of the species are chloranthoids. Remains of magnoliid angiosperms (Magnoliales, Laurales, Canellales, Piperales) are also prominent among the angiosperms. Eudicots are subordinate: only 3–4 % of all angiosperm specimens can be assigned confidently to eudicot angiosperms. Five new genera and six new species of angiosperms are established (Canrightia foveolata sp. nov., Elasmostemon paisii gen. et sp. nov., Endressistemon cateficensis gen. et sp. nov., Ibericarpus cuneiformis gen. et sp. nov., Proencistemon portugallicus gen. et sp. nov., Valvidistemon globiferus gen. et sp. nov.). Several other new taxa are also described, but not formally named.

Key words

Almargem Formation, angiosperms, Early Cretaceous, fossil flowers, mesofossils, pollen, SRXTM, synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy