Leaf fossils of Luzuriaga and a monocot flower with in situ pollen of Liliacidites contortus Mildenh. & Bannister sp. nov. (Alstroemeriaceae) from the Early Miocene

John G Conran, Jennifer M Bannister, Dallas C Mildenhall, Daphne E Lee, Juliana Chacón, Susanne S Renner
American Journal of Botany 2014, 101 (1): 141-55

PREMISE OF THE STUDY: The Foulden Maar lake sediments in Otago, South Island, New Zealand, date to the earliest Miocene and provide an important picture of the diversity of the Australasian biota, paleoecology, and climate at a time when New Zealand had a smaller land area than today. The diverse rainforest contains many taxa now restricted to Australia, New Caledonia, or South America. The presence of Luzuriaga-like fossils in these deposits is important for understanding Alstroemeriaceae evolution and the biogeography of genera shared between New Zealand and South America.

METHODS: Leaves and a flower with in situ pollen that resemble extant Luzuriaga are described and placed phylogenetically. Geographic range information and a molecular clock model for the Alstroemeriaceae were used to investigate possible biogeographic scenarios and the influence of the new fossil on inferred divergence times.

KEY RESULTS: Luzuriaga peterbannisteri Conran, Bannister, Mildenh., & D.E.Lee sp. nov. represents the first macrofossil record for Alstroemeriaceae. An associated Luzuriaga-like flower with in situ fossil pollen of Liliacidites contortus Mildenh. & Bannister sp. nov. is also described. The biogeographic analysis suggests that there have been several dispersal events across the Southern Ocean for the genus, with the fossil representing a now-extinct New Zealand lineage.

CONCLUSIONS: Luzuriaga was present in Early Miocene New Zealand, indicating a long paleogeographic history for the genus, and L. peterbannisteri strengthens biogeographic connections between South America and Australasia during the Oligocene and earliest Miocene.

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