Annals of Botany

Early Palaeocene fossil flowers of Patagonia

Sixty-four million years ago, this elaborate flower grew in Patagonia, Argentina. The new species described by Jud et al. is named Lacinipetalum spectabilis Jud, Gandolfo, Iglesias & Wilf, gen. et. sp. nov. It was part of the flora that colonized coastal southern South America in the early Paleocene Salamanca Formation after the end-Cretaceous extinction event.

Lacinipetalum spectabilis
Lacinipetalum spectabilis

This fossil was gently buried in a muddy channel, preserving the sepals and the delicate, fringed petals. It is most closely related to the tribe Schizomerieae in the Cunoniaceae, a group that includes the New South Wales Christmas bush. They are native to Australasia and South Africa, but no longer occur in South America.

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