Eucalyptus fossil

Hermsen, E. J., M. A. Gandolfo, and M. C. Zamaloa. 2012. The fossil record of Eucalyptus in Patagonia. American Journal of Botany 99 (8): 1356–1374.

Abstract: Herein, we name, describe, and illustrate new macrofossil material representing Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae: Myrtoideae, Eucalypteae) from the diverse early Eocene Laguna del Hunco (LH) flora of Chubut Province, Patagonia, Argentina. We explore the significance of these fossils in light of understanding the fossil record of eucalypts and the biogeography of the Eucalypteae. Fossils representing vegetative and reproductive organs were collected from multiple LH localities over several field seasons. These specimens were prepared, photographed, and compared to extant Eucalyptus. Additional historical collections of Patagonian fossil Eucalyptus were also examined. Vegetative and reproductive organs representing five different Eucalyptus taxa were identified in the LH paleoflora. One new taxon each representing leaves, flower buds, and infructescences with co-occurring, isolated capsules are described and named as new Eucalyptus species. Additionally, two flower types cf. Eucalyptus, represented by one specimen each, are illustrated and briefly described. The fossil species have unique characteristics that independently suggest each belongs within the Eucalypteae. The reproductive material is most similar morphologically to extant Eucalyptus, although it also shares many similarities to the closely related genus Corymbia. The LH fossil Eucalyptus material is among the few eucalypt macrofossils that have recently been named and described and are the oldest macrofossils that can presently be definitively ascribed to the Eucalypteae. They also represent the only credible description of Eucalyptus fossils occurring outside of Australasia and suggest a once broader geographic distribution for this group.

Note:

This work was done under the direction of Dr. M. A. Gandolfo, as part of the Patagonian Paleofloras-Laguna del Hunco project.

FOSSIL PHOTOS

Previous Next

Eucalyptus
Actual width in ( ) unless otherwise noted.

Leaf,
E. frenguelliana
(length= 6.5 cm)
Veination and oil glands,
E. frenguelliana
(image height= 3 mm)
Flower bud,
E. lynchiae
(height= 1.3 cm)

Flower,
Eucalyptus sp. A
(height= 1.2 cm)
Infructescence,
E. caldericola
(widest diameter= 1.25 cm)
Singel capsule,
E. caldericola
(widest diameter= 4 mm)

See also:

Gandolfo, M. A., E. J. Hermsen, M. C. Zamaloa, K. C. Nixon, C. C. González, P. Wilf, N. R. Cúneo, and K. R. Johnson. 2011. Oldest known Eucalyptus macrofossils are from South America. PLoS One 6 (6): e21084. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021084.

More information on the Eucalyptus fossil.

[Go to top of page to see abstract]
[Return to Reference Page]
[Return to Paleobotany Homepage]