The Raritan Formation in New Jersey. USA, is widely known for the exquisite three- dimensional preservation of plant remains. The Formation dates from the Turonian (early Late Cretaceous -90 mybp) and represents a fluvial and overbank flood plain environment. The fossils are fusainized, which is interpreted as being due to a rapid forest fire that resulted in the charcoalification of the structures, in this case, flowers.
The fossil taxon described here is known from 8 specimens. tie flowers are perfect, hypogynous, somewhat triangular in shape with a more or less flat wide receptacle. The perianth is well differentiated into calyx and corolla. The calyx is formed of somewhat imbricate distinct sepals. The corolla consists of 5 petals, they are free of one another and also imbricate. The stamens are numerous and clustered in 3 bundles, however they are free of one another and from the perianth. Each bundle is formed by several stamens (at least 10) of markedly different heights. The filaments and anthers are well defined. The anthers are tetrasporangiate and basifixed. Unfortunately no pollen has been found yet. The gynoecium is superior and syncarpous (synovarious), formed by 3 carpels. There are three styles with apical insertion, free of one another lengthwise and presumably with one stigma per style. The ovary is trilocular, with complete septa. There are several ovules per locule (about 8). They are organized in two rows. The placentation is axile. There are no fruits in the deposits definitively related to these flowers and flowers are not found in organic connection with any kind of vegetative organ.
Fossils belonging to several flowering families or orders have been identified from this formation. for example Hamamelidaceae. Triuridaceae, Saxifragaceae, Clusieceae, Lauraceae. Magnoliales, Capparales arid Ericales. Preliminary analysis of the flowers described here indicates affinities with the Order Theales (sensu Cronquist). Families, Theaceae and Hypericaceae (Clusiaceae) show a flower organization similar to that of the fossil. However more data and cladistic analyses are needed to test this preliminary hypothesis.

Top view of flower Side view of flower Closer view of stamens


Martínez-Millán, M., W. L. Crepet, and K. C. Nixon, 2004. A new fossil flower from the Raritan Formation, New Jersey, USA with affinities to the Theales sensu Cronquist. IOPC VII, Bariloche, Argentina. March 21-26, Abstracts: 79.