Chapter

Ginkgo Biloba A Global Treasure

pp 183-206

Mesozoic Ginkgoalean Megafossils: A Systematic Review

  • Zhiyan ZhouAffiliated withNanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Academia Sinica

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Abstract

Numerous megafossils of Ginkgo and its allies have been recorded in the Mesozoic since the last century [1–3]. Most of these fossils, however, are isolated leaves and other vegetative organs. Fossils of reproductive organs believed to belong to ginkgoaleans are scarce, and they are either fragmentary or were only doubtfully attributed to Ginkgoales. For a long time, our knowledge of the history of Ginkgo and Ginkgoales was based almost entirely on vegetative organs [4–6]. A number of genera and many species have been established on the basis of leaf gross morphology. Cuticular analysis was later introduced to the studies of ginkgoalean leaves [7–14] and was found to be of great value in specific determination. As pointed out by Harris [9], the cuticles, on the whole, are rather more characteristic than any macroscopic characters. For classification of higher taxonomic units, however, cuticles are less important because of the consistency in general structure. Up to the present, gross morphology is still the main criterion for classification of Mesozoic ginkgoaleans above the specific level.