Hironoia fusiformis gen. et sp. nov.; a cornalean fruit from the Kamikitaba locality (Upper Cretaceous, Lower Coniacian) in northeastern Japan
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The application of sieving techniques to bulk samples from the Ashizawa Formation, Futaba Group (Lower Coniacian) of northeastern Honshu, Japan, has yielded well-preserved mesofossil assemblages comparable with those recently described from eastern North America, Europe, and central Asia. Among the most abundant and distinctive components of these assemblages are fusiform fruits that are assigned here to a new genus and species, Hironoia fusiformis gen. et sp. nov. The fruits developed from an epigynous ovary with three to four locules. Each locule bears one seed and has a distinctive dorsal germination valve. These features of the fruit, along with the adnate calyx, indicate an affinity to extant Cornales and specifically the Cornaceae sensu lato. The recognition of an unequivocal cornalean fruit in the Early Coniacian–Early Santonian of Japan provides the earliest record of this group in the fossil record. It also establishes a minimum age for the early divergence of the asterid clade, a major group of living angiosperms comprising more than a third of all species of extant flowering plants.
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