Marsileaceae sporocarps and spores from the late cretaceous of Georgia, U.S.A.
A new species provisionally assigned to the extant genus Regnellidium Lindm. (Regnellidium upatoiensis sp. nov.) is established for isolated sporocarps assignable to the heterosporous water fern family Marsileaceae. Three sporocarps and hundreds of dispersed megaspores were recovered from unconsolidated clays and silts of the Eutaw Formation (Santonian, Late Cretaceous) along Upatoi Creek, Georgia, U.S.A. The sporocarps are ellipsoidal and flattened, contain both megasporangia and microsporangia, and possess a two-layered wall - an outer sclerenchymatous layer and an inner parenchymatous layer. In situ megaspores are spheroidal, with two distinct wall layers - an exine, differentiated into two layers, and an outer ornamented perine also differentiated into two layers. The megaspores also possess an acrolamella consisting of six (five to seven) triangular lobes that are twisted. In situ microspores are trilete and spheroidal, with a strongly rugulate perine, and show modification of the perine over the laesura to form an acrolamella. Comparison of the fossil sporocarps with those of four extant species of Marsileaceae reveal marked similarity with Regnellidium diphyllum Lindm., particularly in megaspore and microspore morphology. If found dispersed, the in situ megaspores would be assigned to Molaspora lobata (Dijkstra) Hall and the microspores to Crybelosporites Dettmann based on their size, shape, and ornamentation. Regnellidium upatoiensis sp. nov. extends the stratigraphic range of the genus back to the Santonian, nearly contemporaneous with the first evidence of Marsilea, and implies that the diversification of the Marsileaceae into its extant lineages occurred in the mid-Cretaceous.
Lupia, R; Schneider, H; Moeser, GM; Pryer, KM; Crane, PR
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