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The possible pollen cone of the Late Triassic conifer Heidiphyllum/Telemachus (Voltziales) from Antarctica

  • Benjamin Bomfleur (a1), Rudolph Serbet (a1), Edith L. Taylor (a1) and Thomas N. Taylor (a1)

Fossil leaves of the Voltziales, an ancestral group of conifers, rank among the most common plant fossils in the Triassic of Gondwana. Even though the foliage taxon Heidiphyllum has been known for more than 150 years, our knowledge of the reproductive organs of these conifers still remains very incomplete. Seed cones assigned to Telemachus have become increasingly well understood in recent decades, but the pollen cones belonging to these Mesozoic conifers are rare. In this contribution we describe the first compression material of a voltzialean pollen cone from Upper Triassic strata of the Transantarctic Mountains. The cone can be assigned to Switzianthus Anderson & Anderson, a genus that was previously assumed to belong to an enigmatic group of pteridosperms from the Triassic Molteno Formation of South Africa. The similarities of cuticle and pollen morphology, together with co-occurrence at all known localities, indicate that Switzianthus most probably represents the pollen organ of the ubiquitous Heidiphyllum/Telemachus plant.

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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
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