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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Nov 23;101(47):16565-70. Epub 2004 Nov 16.

Araceae from the Early Cretaceous of Portugal: evidence on the emergence of monocotyledons.

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Department of Palaeobotany, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Box 50007, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden.


A new species (Mayoa portugallica genus novum species novum) of highly characteristic inaperturate, striate fossil pollen is described from the Early Cretaceous (Barremian-Aptian) of Torres Vedras in the Western Portuguese Basin. Based on comparison with extant taxa, Mayoa is assigned to the tribe Spathiphylleae (subfamily Monsteroideae) of the extant monocotyledonous family Araceae. Recognition of Araceae in the Early Cretaceous is consistent with the position of this family and other Alismatales as the sister group to all other monocots except Acorus. The early occurrence is also consistent with the position of Spathiphylleae with respect to the bulk of aroid diversity. Mayoa occurs in the earliest fossil floras (from circa 110 to 120 million years ago) that contain angiosperm flowers, carpels, and stamens. The new fossil provides unequivocal evidence of monocots in early angiosperm assemblages that also include a variety of key "magnoliid" lineages (e.g., Chloranthaceae) but only a limited diversity of eudicots.

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