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Am J Bot. 2008 Dec;95(12):1569-83. doi: 10.3732/ajb.0800172. Epub 2008 Nov 7.

Fossil Araceae from a Paleocene neotropical rainforest in Colombia.

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  • 1Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, CTPA, Panama City, Panama.


Both the fossil record and molecular data support a long evolutionary history for the Araceae. Although the family is diverse in tropical America today, most araceous fossils, however, have been recorded from middle and high latitudes. Here, we report fossil leaves of Araceae from the middle-late Paleocene of northern Colombia, and review fossil araceous pollen grains from the same interval. Two of the fossil leaf species are placed in the new fossil morphogenus Petrocardium Herrera, Jaramillo, Dilcher, Wing et Gomez-N gen. nov.; these fossils are very similar in leaf morphology to extant Anthurium; however, their relationship to the genus is still unresolved. A third fossil leaf type from Cerrejón is recognized as a species of the extant genus Montrichardia, the first fossil record for this genus. These fossils inhabited a coastal rainforest ∼60-58 million years ago with broadly similar habitat preferences to modern Araceae.

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