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Icacinaceae fossil provides evidence for a Cretaceous origin of the lamiids


Today the asterids comprise over 80,000 species of flowering plants; however, relatively little is known about the timing of their early diversification. This is particularly true for the diverse lamiid clade, which comprises half of asterid diversity. Here, a lamiid fossil fruit assigned to Icacinaceae from the Campanian of western North America provides important macrofossil evidence indicating that lamiids diverged at least 80 million years ago and sheds light on potential Cretaceous rainforest-like ecosystems.

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Fig. 1: Palaeophytocrene chicoensis Atkinson sp. nov. Holotype T 32.

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The author is grateful to D. Hilton (Sierra College) and P. Antuzzi for recovering the fossil, R. Greve and G. Bromm (Sierra College) for facilitating access to the studied material, and R. Shapiro (California State University – Chico) for bringing the fossil material to my attention. Thanks to R. Serbet (University of Kansas) for helpful edits on the manuscript. This work was supported by a University of Kansas New Faculty Research Development fund awarded to B.A.A.

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The author confirms sole responsibility for all aspects of this study including conception and design, fossil identification, imaging, taxonomy, interpretation of results, and writing and editing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Brian A. Atkinson.

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Nature Plants thanks James Doyle and Gregory Stull for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Palaeophytocrene chicoensis Atkinson sp. nov. Holotype T 32.

Region of rectangle in Fig. 1d showing a less magnified view of papillate area in Fig. 1e in which the inferred papillae (exemplars at arrows) have a size and rounded-shape distinct from the surrounding matrix. Note that this was the only tubercle where these structures are observed. Scale = 100 µm.

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Atkinson, B.A. Icacinaceae fossil provides evidence for a Cretaceous origin of the lamiids. Nat. Plants 8, 1374–1377 (2022).

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