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Verneda hermaphroditica gen. & sp. nov.: A new flower head from the early Late Cretaceous (middle Cenomanian) of southeastern France

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Spherical flower heads have often been reported from the late Early and Late Cretaceous of Asia and North America, but are rare in Europe. Palaeobotanists have included them in Altingiaceae and Hamamelidaceae (Saxifragales, basal core eudicots), and Platanaceae (Proteales, basal eudicots). We report newly collected flower heads from the Cenomanian of southeastern France. They are examined using scanning electron microscopy and propagation phase-contrast X-ray synchrotron microtomography with a voxel size down to 0.7 μm. They are described and compared with 95 living angiosperms, which include basal eudicots, basal rosids and basal asterids, based on a cladistic analysis of 64 characters. Verneda hermaphroditica gen. & sp. nov. consists of flower heads with around one hundred actinomorphic, pentamerous, bisexual flowers. The androecium has united filaments but free tetrasporangiate anthers. Pollen grains are tricolpate and reticulate. The gynoecium is eusyncarpous and pentalocular. Each of the five carpels contains a single ovule/seed. Cladistic analysis suggests that Verneda hermaphroditica is sister to Platanaceae. It cannot, however, be included in this family because characters such as basally fused stamen filaments and eusyncarpous gynoecium are absent in living Platanaceae.
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Keywords: CENOMANIAN; FOSSIL FLOWERS; FRANCE; PLATANACEAE; SYNCHROTRON MICROTOMOGRAPHY; VERNEDA HERMAPHRODITICA

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Université Rennes 1, Géosciences, CNRS UMR 6118, Campus de Beaulieu, bât. 15, 263 avenue du Général Leclerc, 35042 Rennes, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, 6 rue J.-Horowitz, BP 220, 38043 Grenoble, France 2: Université Lyon 1 (Claude Bernard), CNRS UMR 5276, Campus La Doua, Bât. Géode, 2 rue Raphaël Dubois, 69622 Villeurbanne, France 3: Museum für Naturkunde, Invalidenstraße 43, 10115 Berlin, Germany 4: Université Rennes 1, Géosciences, CNRS UMR 6118, Campus de Beaulieu, bât. 15, 263 avenue du Général Leclerc, 35042 Rennes, France

Publication date: 01 August 2016

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