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New observations on a Pridoli plant assemblage from north Xinjiang, northwest China, with comments on its evolutionary and palaeogeographical significance

  • Cai Chong-Yang (a1), Dou Ya-Wei (a2) and D. Edwards (a3)

Abstract

Detailed descriptions of plant remains from a late Silurian (Pridoli) locality in Xinjiang Province, northwest China are presented. They include Junggaria spinosa Dou, interpreted as identical with Cooksonella sphaerica Senkevich, Salopella xingjiangensis Dou, and a number of sterile axes, including one with a leafy appearance superficially resembling a lycophyte, and others of probable algal affinity. Lack of anatomical and reproductive characteristics precludes a more precise assessment of relationships. A justification for the Pridoli rather than Lower Devonian age of the assemblage is based on graptolites. The composition of the assemblage is compared with coeval ones from Europe, North America, north Africa and Kazakhstan and has closest similarities with the latter. Palaeogeographic proximity on the Kazakhstan palaeocontinent is postulated, but the dearth of global Silurian occurrences of land plants make it premature to evaluate the significance of Kazakhstan and Chinese assemblages in terms of global provincialism in the late Silurian. The most distinctive element in these assemblages (Junggaria/Cooksonella) has sporangia with more complex, indeed more enigmatic organization, than seen in most Silurian and early Devonian rhyniophytoids.

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