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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Jun 20;97(13):7030-6.

Toward a new synthesis: major evolutionary trends in the angiosperm fossil record.

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  • 1Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-7800, USA.


Angiosperm paleobotany has widened its horizons, incorporated new techniques, developed new databases, and accepted new questions that can now focus on the evolution of the group. The fossil record of early flowering plants is now playing an active role in addressing questions of angiosperm phylogeny, angiosperm origins, and angiosperm radiations. Three basic nodes of angiosperm radiations are identified: (i) the closed carpel and showy radially symmetrical flower, (ii) the bilateral flower, and (iii) fleshy fruits and nutritious nuts and seeds. These are all coevolutionary events and spread out through time during angiosperm evolution. The proposal is made that the genetics of the angiosperms pressured the evolution of the group toward reproductive systems that favored outcrossing. This resulted in the strongest selection in the angiosperms being directed toward the flower, fruits, and seeds. That is why these organs often provide the best systematic characters for the group.

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