Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 263, Issue 1–2, pp 117–134 | Cite as

The identification of fossil angiosperm pollen and its bearing on the time and place of the origin of angiosperms



Studies in the 1970's reporting the occurrence of fossil pollen types in the Cretaceous, coupled with surveys of extant pollen morphology of primitive flowering plants, laid the foundation for proposing a Lower Cretaceous origin of angiosperms. Over the last 30 years, morphological, ultrastructural, and ontogenetic studies of both extant and fossil pollen have provided an array of new characters, as well as greater resolution in defining character polarities. Moreover, a range of fossil pollen types exhibiting angiosperm characters occur in low frequency within Triassic and Jurassic sediments. The pollen data provide evidence of a pre-Cretaceous origin of angiosperms. Speciation and extinction rates were likely equal during the Triassic and Jurassic, resulting in the paucity of angiosperm pollen types from different geographic areas in the Atlantic – South American/African rift zone. It was not until the Lower Cretaceous that origination rates exceed extinction rates, resulting in the subsequent diversification of angiosperms and the origin of the eudicots.


Origin of angiosperms Triassic pollen characters fossil record 


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© Springer-Verlag Wien 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

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