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Am J Bot. 2008 Apr;95(4):465-71. doi: 10.3732/ajb.95.4.465.

Seed ferns survived the end-Cretaceous mass extinction in Tasmania.

Author information

1
Paleobotany Department, The Swedish Museum of Natural History, Box 50007 SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

Seed ferns, dominant elements of the vegetation in many parts of the world from the Triassic to Cretaceous, were considered to have disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous together with several other groups that had occupied key positions in terrestrial and marine ecosystems such as dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, and ammonoids. Seed-fern demise is generally correlated with competition from diversifying flowering plants through the Cretaceous and the global environmental crisis related to the Chicxulub impact event in the paleotropics at the end of the period. New fossils from Tasmania show that one seed-fern lineage survived into the Cenozoic by at least 13 million years. These fossils are described here as a new species, Komlopteris cenozoicus. Komlopteris is a genus of seed ferns attributed to Corystospermaceae and until now was not known from sediments younger than the Early Cretaceous. Discovery of this "Lazarus taxon," together with the presence of a range of other relictual fossil and extant organisms in Tasmania, other southern Gondwanan provinces, and some regions of northern North America and Asia, underscores high-latitude regions as biodiversity refugia during global environmental crises and highlights their importance as sources of postextinction radiations.

PMID:
21632371
DOI:
10.3732/ajb.95.4.465
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