We describe a new fossil wood from the El Bosque Formation (Eocene) in Chiapas, southern Mexico. It has a combination of features found in the Anacardiaceae, including distinct growth rings, diffuse porosity, vessels solitary and in radial multiples of 2–3, simple perforation plates, medium to large alternate intervessel pits, vessel-ray parenchyma pits rounded and elongate with reduced borders, septate and non-septate fibers, axial parenchyma scanty paratracheal, vasicentric, apotracheal diffuse, Kribs heterogeneous rays type IIA, and multiseriate rays with radial canals. The mosaic of features of this wood supports the erection of a new genus, Bosquesoxylon Pérez-Lara, Castañeda-Posadas et Estrada-Ruiz. This new genus of anacardiaceous fossil wood extends our knowledge of this family’s history and offers hints on the possible relationships with floras from other localities worldwide, especially North America and Asia.
The systematics of a fossil wood assigned to Duabangoxylon (family Lythraceae) is described from the Deccan Intertrappean beds of Kutch, Gujarat, western India considered to be late Maastrichtian to early Danian in age. This fossil is the oldest record of Duabanga as its previous records are not older than Eocene. As the intertrappean flora of Kutch is poorly known, the present fossil not only enriches this flora but also helps in the reconstruction of palaeoclimate.
We report fossil wood specimens from two Miocene sites in Panama, Central America: Hodges Hill (Cucaracha Formation; Burdigalian, c. 19 Ma) and Lago Alajuela (Alajuela Formation; Tortonian, c. 10 Ma), where material is preserved as calcic and silicic permineralizations, respectively. The fossils show an unusual combination of features: diffuse porous vessel arrangement, simple perforation plates, alternate intervessel pitting, vessel–ray parenchyma pits either with much reduced borders or similar to the intervessel pits, abundant sclerotic tyloses, rays markedly heterocellular with long uniseriate tails, and rare to absent axial parenchyma. This combination of features allows assignment of the fossils to Malpighiales, and we note similarities with four predominantly tropical families: Salicaceae, Achariaceae, and especially, Phyllanthaceae, and Euphorbiaceae. These findings improve our knowledge of Miocene neotropical diversity and highlight the importance of Malpighiales in the forests of Panama prior to the collision of the Americas.
Background and approach – The Deccan Intertrappean Beds of Central India contain a diverse assemblage of fossil plants, including petrified woods from 15 localities. These beds are dated at c. 67–64 Ma, i.e. latest Cretaceous–earliest Paleocene and span the K-Pg boundary, a significant time in angiosperm history. At this time, the Indian tectonic plate was halfway on its journey from Gondwana to its collision with Asia, and relatively close to the equator. We provide descriptions in IAWA Hardwood List codes for 47 species of Deccan fossil woods, based on our examination of thin sections of these woods, mostly holotypes that are housed at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, India. An appendix lists all validly published Deccan wood species of which we are aware, including 52 that we were not able to examine.
Main results – The Deccan fossil woods described herein include the oldest known occurrences of some orders, families or genera viz. Lamiales (Lamia-ceae), Achariaceae (Hydnocarpus-like wood), Anacardiaceae, Simaroubaceae (Ailanthus-like and Simarouba-like woods), subfamily Leeoideae (Vitaceae), subfamily Myrtoideae (Myrtaceae), subfamily Planchoideae (Lecythidaceae), tribe Castilleae (Moraceae), tribes Grewioideae and Sterculioideae (Malvaceae). These first fossil records are discussed with reference to other macrofossil and pollen records of the same or related clades. They complement recent work on the oldest known Olea and Connaraceae also documented by Deccan woods.
For the Deccan woods we examined, we could confirm the earlier taxonomic assignment at least down to order or family level for 29 taxa. Ordinal level affinities are ambiguous for eight of the taxa. In two cases, we revised the taxonomic assignment to other families; for another eight, the original assignment was found to be incorrect, but we are unable to suggest alternative affinities.
Evolutionary implications – Only 3% of all Deccan woods have scalariform perforations and the incidences of so-called specialized features in the Baileyan sense are high, so these woods have a remarkably “modern” aspect. This is anomalous in comparison with contemporaneous fossil woods from higher paleolatitudes, and seemingly they are more “derived” than the recent flora. In these respects, the Deccan woods constitute a unique assemblage. The low incidence of scalariform perforations suggests xeric conditions, while – in contrast – the low incidence of distinct growth ring boundaries suggests an aseasonal everwet climate. It is speculated that convergent xylem specialization, especially the selection for simple perforations, was enhanced by the climatic conditions found at low paleolatitudes with high temperatures as would characterize the Deccan Intertrappean Beds at the K-Pg boundary.
Silicified woods from near the town of Ocú on the Azuero Peninsula, Panama were first reported by Stern and Eyde in 1963; however, the significance of these fossils has been largely overlooked. Well-characterized fossil floras from Central America can be used to test hypotheses related to the historical biogeography and paleoclimate of the Neotropics. We describe 10 new wood types and one palm based on 22 samples from Oligo-Miocene deposits. Affinities at the family/order level include Fabaceae, Lauraceae, Moraceae, Sapotaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Arecaceae, Sapindales, Ericales, and Humiriaceae. The fossil woods are fragmentary and have not been found in-place, but the size and angularity of the specimens suggests minimal transport from the site of growth. We compared these woods with calcareous woods from the Lower Miocene Cucaracha Formation and silicified woods from the upper Miocene Alajuela Formation using Rare Earth Element (REE) analysis to test the hypothesis that the Ocú woods were preserved under uniform conditions and not reworked. Although the results were ambiguous with respect to the original hypothesis, we note that the REE concentrations in silicified woods are much lower than in calcareous woods. We used comparative analysis of wood anatomical features to draw conclusions about the paleoclimate from the fossil flora. All the dicot woods are diffuse porous and none have distinct growth rings; some have very wide vessels at low frequencies. These features are typical of canopy trees in tropical lowland forests. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling of wood anatomical characters from a variety of communities and ecological categories showed that the anatomy of the Ocú woods is most similar to that found in tropical rainforests. Based on the combination of taxonomic identity and functional anatomy, we interpret these fossils as evidence for humid to perhumid megathermal climate in Panama during the late Paleogene-early Neogene.
We identified the wood of the sticks of eight bows in the historical collection of musical instruments in the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence. Wood identification was carried out non-invasively (i.e., without sampling wood from the original objects), because the removal of samples from fine musical instruments will affect their aesthetic integrity and/or functional quality. Identification attempts using reflected light microscopy of wood surfaces, gave only partial results due to the poor quality of the surfaces and the particular geometry of the sticks that does not have any transverse surface. Application of Synchrotron light X-ray microtomography (µCT) in phase-contrast mode to the whole sticks allowed us to obtain stacks of transverse-sectional images that, processed as virtual volumes, revealed several anatomical features. With µCT it was possible to identify three bows as Brosimum guianense (Moraceae), one bow as Caesalpinia echinata (Caesalpiniaceae), and four bows as Manilkara sp. (Sapotaceae).