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Can modern-day plants trace their New Zealand ancestry?
Date:1/21/2010

ave only just started to work these plants out."

Cyathodophyllum novae-zelandiae is the first unambiguous, pre-Pleistocene macrofossil from the tribe Styphelieae identified, and it appears to be from a lineage of plants that is now extinct. Richeaphyllum waimumuensis was identified as a member of the tribe Richeeae, but the scientists are unsure about whether it is from an extant or extinct lineage.

Although pollen from the fossil record has demonstrated that members of the Ericaceae plant family have been present in New Zealand since the Late Cretaceous, this research demonstrates that the presence of ancient fossils from a plant family may not provide evidence regarding the history of modern members of the family, providing a cautionary note to other researchers trying to reconstruct the history of a group of plants. Discovery of new macrofossils and/or detailed examinations of fossil pollen combined with evolutionary analyses may help to answer questions of whether the ancestors of current plants coexisted with dinosaurs in New Zealand.

"Delving into the details of plant fossils can give you surprises," Jordan said. "The fossil record of pollen could be read to say that this group of plants is a relic from the breakup of Gondwanabut by combining the leaf fossils and evidence from molecular biology, it looks like exactly the opposite is true."


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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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