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Samples of fossil wood and leaves of Tertiary age collected from Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula


During field work in 2001 over 1600 specimens were collected from four main fossil plant assemblages: the 'Nordenksjold flora' from the Cross Valley Formation of Late Palaeocene age; and 3 floras from La Meseta Formation i) Flora2 from the Valle De Las Focas allomember, ~late Early Eocene, ii) Wiman Flora, Acantilados allomember, late Early/mid Eocene, iii) Cucullaea 1, Cuculleae 1 allomember Flora, early Late Eocene. In addition smaller collections of fossils from other parts of the La Meseta Formation were collected. The work concentrated on the Late Palaeocene and the Cuculleae 1 floras as these were the best preserved and had sufficient morphotypes for climate analysis. In the Late Palaeocene flora 36 angiosperm leaf morphotypes were identified, along with 2 pteridophytes (ferns), and podocarp and araucarian conifers. Discovery of several new leaf types indicates that the Tertiary floras from Antarctica were more diverse than previously thought.

Palaeocene, Tertiary floras, biodiversity change, forest diversity, former greenhouse climate, plant fossils, terrestrial climate change

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