Early Palaeocene fossil flowers of Patagonia

Sixty-four million years ago, this elaborate flower grew in Patagonia, Argentina. The new species described by Jud et al. is named Lacinipetalum spectabilis Jud, Gandolfo, Iglesias & Wilf, gen. et. sp. nov. It was part of the flora that colonized coastal southern South America in the early Paleocene Salamanca Formation after the end-Cretaceous extinction event.

Lacinipetalum spectabilis
Lacinipetalum spectabilis

This fossil was gently buried in a muddy channel, preserving the sepals and the delicate, fringed petals. It is most closely related to the tribe Schizomerieae in the Cunoniaceae, a group that includes the New South Wales Christmas bush. They are native to Australasia and South Africa, but no longer occur in South America.

Further reading

Jud, N. A., Gandolfo, M. A., Iglesias, A., & Wilf, P. (2018). Fossil flowers from the early Palaeocene of Patagonia, Argentina, with affinity to Schizomerieae (Cunoniaceae). Annals of Botany, 121(3), 431–442. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcx173