Two fossil species of Metrosideros (Myrtaceae) from the Oligo-Miocene, Golden Feece locality in Tasmania, Australia

Myall Tarran, Peter G. Wilson, Michael Macphail, Gregory J. Jordan, Robert S Hill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    PREMISE OF THE STUDY: The capsular-fruited genus Metrosideros (Myrtaceae) is one of the most widely distributed flowering plant genera in the Pacific but is extinct in Australia today. The center of geographic origin for the genus and the reason for and timing of its extinction in Australia remain uncertain. We identify fossil Metrosideros fruits from the newly discovered Golden Fleece fossil flora in the Oligo-Miocene of Tasmania, Australia, shedding further light on these problems. METHODS: Standard paleopalynological techniques were used to date the fossil-bearing sediments. Scanning electron microscopy and an auto-montage camera system were used to take high-resolution images of fossil and extant fruits taken from herbarium specimens. Fossils are identified using a nearestliving-relative approach. KEY RESULTS: The fossil-bearing sediments are palynostratigraphically dated as being P roteacidites tuberculatus Zone Equivalent (ca. 33-16 Ma) in age and provide a confident Oligo Miocene age for the macrofossils. Two new fossil species of Metrosideros are described and are here named Metrosideros dawsonii sp. nov. and Metrosideros wrightii sp. nov. C ONCLUSIONS: These newly described fossil species of Metrosideros provide a second record of the genus in the Cenozoic of Australia, placing them in the late Early Oligocene to late Early Miocene. It is now apparent not only that Metrosideros was present in Australia, where the genus is now extinct, but that at least several Metrosideros species were present during the Cenozoic. These fossils further strengthen the case for an Australian origin of the genus.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)891-904
    JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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