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Thai amber: insights into early diatom history?

Abstract : The origin of the diatoms still remains enigmatic. Their fossil record is scarce until the Late Cretaceous and great divergences exist between molecular data and the earliest fossil evidence. While molecular data indicate an origin during the Triassic or Early Jurassic, early fossil evidence is only from the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous. The discovery of diatoms in French mid-Cretaceous amber by the end of the 2000s already suggested a potential bias in the diatom fossil record as it made older many diatom lineages, the record of which hitherto began at the end of the Cretaceous. The Jurassic/Early Cretaceous fossil record of diatoms is extremely sparse and any new occurrence is important for retracing the evolutionary, palaeogeographical and palaeoenvironmental history of diatoms. Thai amber has yielded a new diatom specimen that has been attributed to the genus Hemiaulus. Fossil assemblages and sedimentological data indicate that Thai amber and its Hemiaulus specimen are Late Jurassic in age. This discovery represents the oldest hitherto known specimen of Hemiaulus and so extends the fossil record of the bipolar diatoms and of the genus Hemiaulus by several dozensof millions of years and brings closer the fossil evidence and molecular data (that estimated an origin of the bipolar diatoms about 150 Ma ago). It reinforces the hypothesis of a pre Cretaceous fossil diatom records and also supports an origin of the diatoms in shallow coastal environments.
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Vincent Girard, Simona Saint Martin, Eric Buffetaut, Jean-Paul Saint Martin, Didier Néraudeau, et al.. Thai amber: insights into early diatom history?. BSGF earth sciences bulletin, Société géologique de France, In press, ⟨10.1051/bsgf/2020028⟩. ⟨insu-02890787⟩

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