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First occurrence of Cedrelospermum (Ulmaceae) in Asia and its biogeographic implications


Cedrelospermum (Ulmaceae) is an extinct genus with extensive fossil records in Europe and North America. However, no fossil of the genus has been reported from Asia. Here we describe Cedrelospermum asiaticum L.B. Jia, Y.J. Huang et Z.K. Zhou sp. nov. based on compressed fruits from the late Miocene of Yunnan, southwestern China. The fossil fruits are characterized by an ovate fruit body adjoined by double wings, with the veins on the primary wing converging toward a stigmatic area. According to the historical geographic distribution of the genus, we hypothesize that Cedrelospermum originated in North America where both single-winged and double-winged fruits were reported. The single-winged form subsequently spread into Europe via the North Atlantic land bridge and the double-winged form dispersed into Asia via the Bering land bridge. From the Eocene to Oligocene, a southward retreat of the genus distribution probably took place, which coincided with the global surface cooling initiated during the Eocene–Oligocene transition. The extinction of Cedrelospermum from Asia may be related to the intensification of the East Asian monsoon.

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The authors thank Dr. Hongshan Wang for compiling the North American fossil records; Dr. Shitao Zhang for study on geological horizon; Dr. Frédéric M.B. Jacques for improving the figures; Dr. Jianwei Zhang, Shufeng Li, He Xu and Honghu Meng for technical assistance with software; Julie Lebreton-Anberrée for giving comments on the geological setting and polishing the manuscript; Dr. Sergio R.S. Cevallos-Ferriz for providing the isotope dating age for the flora of the Pié de Vaca Formation, Puebla, Mexico; Dr. Arata Momohara and Dr. Sergei Vikulin for providing references; members of the Paleoecology Research Group in Kunming institute of Botany, CAS for help with field work; the two anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41372035) and the National Key Basic Research Project (“973” Project, No. 2012CB821900). This work is a contribution to NECLIME (Neogene Climate Evolution in Eurasia).

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Correspondence to Yong-Jiang Huang or Zhe-Kun Zhou.

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Jia, L., Manchester, S.R., Su, T. et al. First occurrence of Cedrelospermum (Ulmaceae) in Asia and its biogeographic implications. J Plant Res 128, 747–761 (2015).

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  • Asia
  • Biogeography
  • Cedrelospermum
  • Miocene
  • Monsoon
  • Ulmaceae