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Cretaceous plant fossils of Pitt Island, the Chatham group, New Zealand

Abstract : Pitt Island, a part of the Chathams Islands group, lies 700km east of New Zealand. Its geology includes the Tupuangi Formation, dated as Motuan to Teratan (late Albian to Santonian) on the basis of palynology. Samples of Tupuangi Formation mudstone yielded leaf cuticle assemblages dominated by araucarian and podocarp conifers and locally by angiosperms. The 12 distinguishable conifer taxa include a new species of Araucaria, A. rangiauriaensis, and the extinct genera Eromangia, Kakahuia (both Podocarpaceae), Otwayia (Cheirolepidiaceae), Paahake (Taxodiaceae or Taxaceae) and possibly Katikia (Podocarpaceae). Ginkgo and two types of dicotyledonous angiosperm cuticle are present. Based on the absence of bennettitaleans and rarity of Ginkgo, a Turonian or slightly younger age is inferred, making the Pitt Island assemblage the first Turonian plant macrofossils documented from New Zealand. The fossils provide a window into southern high-latitude (polar) vegetation of the mid-Cretaceous. Conifer charcoal (probably of Podocarpaceae) is locally abundant and suggests that fire was an important part of the ecosystem. A broad analogy with modern boreal conifer-deciduous angiosperm forests is suggested although clearly with warmer temperatures.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 20, 2012 - 3:39:30 PM
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Mike Pole, Marc Philippe. Cretaceous plant fossils of Pitt Island, the Chatham group, New Zealand. Alcheringa, Taylor & Francis, 2010, 34 (3), pp.231-263. ⟨10.1080/03115511003659085⟩. ⟨insu-00672131⟩

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