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