Friedsellowia gracilifolia gen. nov. et sp. nov., a new gnetophyte from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation (Brazil)
Löwe, Sarah A.;Mohr, Barbara A.R.;Coiffard, Clément;Bernardes-de-Oliveira, Mary E.C.
published: Jul 1, 2013
A new fossil gnetophyte, Friedsellowia gracilifolia gen. nov. et sp. nov. from the Crato Formation (northeast Brazil) is described. Several, nearly complete specimens, including seedlings, young and more mature plants are preserved with roots, axes, leaves and reproductive organs. A fully grown plant probably reached more than one metre in height, displaying an articulated gnetalean habit with slender long-jointed stems and leaves usually attached as whorls of four at lower side branches, terminal reproductive organs consist of cones. Ovulate cones bear generally about 8–16 or more ovulate organs in an arrangement in whorls of four or when in pairs of two, in an opposite-decussate arrangement. Small terminal microsporangiate cones sit on long thin axes which subtend the ovulate cones. Based on its anatomy and morphology, the new taxon nests within the Gnetales. Various characters, such as the chevron bearing venation of the cotyledons, the possible presence of a feeder and the cone structures with many reproductive units per cone point to a close relationship to Welwitschia. The plant grew most likely in open sunny habitats, possibly in a reed like manner close to the Crato lake.