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Science. 2018 Dec 21;362(6421):1414-1416. doi: 10.1126/science.aau4061.

A hidden cradle of plant evolution in Permian tropical lowlands.

Author information

1
Palaeobotany Research Group, Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
2
Department of Applied and Environmental Geology, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.
3
Department of Paleobiology, NMNH Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
4
Palaeobotany Research Group, Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. bbomfleur@uni-muenster.de.

Abstract

The latitudinal biodiversity gradient today has deep roots in the evolutionary history of Earth's biota over geologic time. In the marine realm, earliest fossil occurrences at low latitudes reveal a tropical cradle for many animal groups. However, the terrestrial fossil record-especially from drier environments that are thought to drive evolutionary innovation-is sparse. We present mixed plant-fossil assemblages from Permian equatorial lowlands in present-day Jordan that harbor precocious records of three major seed-plant lineages that all became dominant during the Mesozoic, including the oldest representative of any living conifer family. These finds offer a glimpse of the early evolutionary origins of modern plant groups in disturbance-prone tropical habitats that are usually hidden from observation.

PMID:
30573628
DOI:
10.1126/science.aau4061
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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