, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 205-234
Date: 18 Jul 2012

Arecaceae Fossil Fruits from the Paleocene of Patagonia, Argentina

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Abstract

We describe fossil fruits collected from outcrops of the Salamanca Fm. (Paleocene, Danian, 63.3–61.9 Ma) at the Estancia Las Violetas locality, Chubut, Argentina that show affinities with members of the Subtribe Attaleinae, Tribe Cocoseae, Subfamily Arecoideae within the Arecaceae. The fossils are preserved as permineralizations, and were examined by longitudinal, tangential and cross-sections, as well as by the application of Computed Tomography Scanning technology (CT Scan). The fruits are ovoid drupes with 3 longitudinal grooves delimiting three valves; displaying apical stigmatic remains and a single apical germination pore. The exocarp and mesocarp are fused and anatomically indistinguishable one from another; they contain longitudinal fibrous bands with brachysclereids. A centrally placed seed occupies the single locule entirely; the seeds are deltoid with a basal hilum and acuminate tip while the endosperm is ruminate. The taxonomic position of the fossils was explored using phylogenetic analyses of molecular sequences combined with morphological data. Along with the suite of morphological characters that points to an affinity with the Subtribe Attaleinae, Tribe Cocoseae, subfamily Arecoideae, the results of the combined phylogenetic analyses confirm the taxonomic placement. This report constitutes the first confirmed record for the Subtribe Attaleinae worldwide and the first record of fossil palm fruits from Argentina.