Crepet, W. L., K. C. Nixon and C. P. Daghlian. 2013. Fossil Ericales from the Upper Cretaceous of New Jersey. International Journal of Plant Sciences, Special Issue: Conceptual Advances in Fossil Plant Biology, Eds. G. Rothwell and R. Stockey: Thomas N. Taylor Diamond Jubilee, 174 (3): 572-584.

Abstract: Fossil flowers and other related organs of Turonian age from Cretaceous Atlantic Coastal Plain deposits in northern New Jersey , USA are remarkable in their degree of preservation and document important events in the radiation of eudicot angiosperms relatively early in their history. These fossils represent a clade of three species and include, flowers, inflorescences and leaves constituting a genus that is unique relative to existing angiosperm genera, but that nonetheless shares a significant number of characters with living families placed in the broader Ericales (APG II) including, but not only, Ericaceae. Fossils representing this taxon include dispersed individual flowers, inflorescences, fruits, and leaves. They are interpreted as representing a complex of at least three closely related ericalean species because of common morphological characters, including those shared by the flowers and fruits. These include: five-merous, haplostemonous, hypogynous flowers, staminodes opposite the clawed petals, distinctive sessile abaxial sepal glands, papillate ovaries, 5-lobed capitate stigmas, and numerous reticulate seeds in valvate loculicidal capsules. Variation among the three species as delimited here includes trichome form and distribution. Phylogenetically, they are placed near modern Cyrillaceae (Ericales) based on morphological cladistic analysis. The flower fossils have some interesting characteristics suggestive of well-developed relationships with pollinating insects including in one of the species pollen grains united by fine threads (interpreted as viscin threads) and anther spurs typical of hymenopteran pollination in modern taxa.

FOSSIL PHOTOS

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Raritaniflora tomentosa
Actual width in ( ) unless otherwise noted.


Side view
(height= 1.9 mm)
Top view
(1.3 mm)
Dissected flower
(height= 1.9 mm)
Pollen
(length= 8 µm)

Raritaniflora spherica

Side view
(height= 1.7 mm)
Top view
(1.6 mm)
Stamen
(length= 956 µm)
Pollen with "viscen threads"
(7 µm)

Raritaniflora glandulosa

Side view
(height= 1 mm)
Top view
(1.5 mm)
Dissected flower
(height= 1.3 mm)
Pollen grain
(7 µm)

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