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Fruits of an “Old World” tribe (Phytocreneae; Icacinaceae) from the Paleogene of North and South America

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The Phytocreneae (Icacinaceae) are a tribe of scrambling shrubs and lianas presently distributed in tropical Africa, Madagascar, and Indo-Malesia. We describe the oldest known fossils of this tribe and provide the first recognition of this group in the Neotropical fossil record based on distinctive fruit remains. Palaeophytocrene piggae sp. nov., from the late Paleocene of western North America, and Palaeophytocrene hammenii sp. nov. and cf. Phytocrene sp., from the middle-late Paleocene of Colombia, constitute the oldest confirmed records of this tribe. Pyrenacantha austroamericana sp. nov., from the Oligocene of Peru, represents an extant Old World genus known also from the Eocene fossil record of North America and Europe. Collectively, these fossils indicate that the Phytocreneae were previously established in the Neotropics, despite their current absence from the region, and may provide evidence for Paleogene floristic exchange between North and South America.

Keywords: Biogeography; Icacinaceae; Neotropics; Paleogene; fossil endocarps

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2012

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