Original paper

The late Miocene macroflora of the La Cerdanya Basin (Eastern Pyrenees, Spain): towards a synthesis

Barrón, Eduardo;Postigo-Mijarra, José Mª;Diéguez, Carmen


The fossil plant-bearing beds of the Tortonian (late Miocene) intramontane basin of La Cerdanya (Eastern Pyrenees, Catalonia, Spain) have been investigated for more than a century, and 165 species from 12 outcrops have been described in previous publications. The sediments with rich plant fossil assemblages, which correspond to lacustrine diatomitic deposits, contain large numbers of plant remains, mainly leaf compressions and impressions. These assemblages are well preserved, a consequence of the rapid accumulation of plant remains in the sediments of the basin’s ancient lake, and the often close proximity of its shores to wetland and upland vegetation. This paper provides a comprehensive taxonomic and nomenclatural review of the historic and new collections of late Miocene macroflora for the La Cerdanya Basin. Examination of the newer materials allowed emendments to be made to the diagnoses of Abies saportana, Acer pyrenaicum, Alnus occidentalis, Quercus hispanica and Tilia vidali provided by Rérolle for the basin at the end of the 19th century. In addition, 24 species of vascular plants are identified for the basin for the first time, including one horsetail, three conifers, 19 arboreal or bushy dicotyledonous angiosperms, and one monocotyledonous angiosperm. Indeed, this is the first time that Cedrela heliconia (Unger) Knobloch, Decodon sp., Hedera cf. multinervis Kolakovskii, Mahonia cf. pseudosimplex Kvaček & Walther, Smilax cf. aspera L. var. fossilis and Ulmus cf. plurinervia Unger have been recorded anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula. The La Cerdanya Basin plant assemblages of the late Miocene mainly consisted of conifers and deciduous broadleaved taxa of Arctotertiary origin; evergreen Palaeotropical elements were less well represented. This flora is similar to those recorded at coeval sites in northern Greece, northern Italy and central and eastern France. Within the Iberian Peninsula, the lateMiocene macroflora reported for the nearby Seu d’Urgell Basin is the most similar.


Late MioceneTortonianpalaeobotanyleaf florataxonomic reviewSpanish Pyrenees