The aim of this report is to describe a suite of fossil flowers with possible nymphaealean affinities. The fossil remains were collected from the Old Crossman Pit locality near Sayreville, New Jersey, in outcrops of the Raritan Formation, estimated as Turonian (~90 MYBP, Upper Cretaceous). The fossil remains, exhibiting exceptional preservation, are three-dimensional and preserved as charcoal. Flowers are bisexual, actinomorphic with a cup-shaped "receptacle" and perigynous/hypogynous. The perianth is formed by numerous spirally arranged tepals. The androecium is composed of numerous stamens and staminodes also spirally arranged. Stamens and staminodes are laminar with an acute tip and free from one another. Pollen grains unknown. What appears to be a central sterile column is surrounded by a whorl of more or less free carpels. Additional appendages, probably sterile, surround the gynoecium. Between the cup-shaped receptacle and the androecium there is an elongated zone which does not bear any appendages. The sum of features of this fossil suggests Nymphaeales but other magnoliid groups cannot yet be ruled out. The results of a cladistic analysis to determine more exactly the relationships of these fossils will be presented. Nymphaealean fossils are of great interest because of recent molecular analyses placing this small relic group as a sister group of all, or most, of the remainder of angiosperms.
|Side view of dissected flower||Top of bottom half of flower||Base of top half of flower|
Gandolfo, M. A., K. C. Nixon, and W. L. Crepet. 2001. Fossil flowers with possible nymphaealean affinities. Presented at Botanical Society of America Meetings, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Aug. 12-16.