Coryphoid palms from the K-Pg boundary of central India and their biogeographical implications: Evidence from megafossil remains

Kumar, Sanchita; Hazra, Taposhi; Spicer, Robert A.; Hazra, Manoshi; Spicer, Teresa E.V.; Bera, Subir and Khan, Mahasin Ali (2022). Coryphoid palms from the K-Pg boundary of central India and their biogeographical implications: Evidence from megafossil remains. Plant Diversity (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pld.2022.01.001

Abstract

Ten palm leaf impressions are documented from the latest Maastrichtian (late Cretaceous) to early Danian (earliest Paleocene) sediments (K-Pg, c. 66–64 Ma) of the Mandla Lobe of the Deccan Inter-trappean Beds, Madhya Pradesh, central India. The palmate leaf shape along with a definite well-preserved costa support their placement in the subfamily Coryphoideae of the family Arecaceae. We place all recovered palm leaf specimens in the fossil genus Sabalites, report seven species of coryphoid palms and describe two new species namely, Sabalities umariaensis sp. nov. and S. ghughuaensis sp. nov. The fossils indicate that coryphoid palms were highly diverse in central India by the latest Cretaceous. These and earlier reported coryphoid palm fossils from the same locality indicate that they experienced a warm and humid tropical environment during the time of deposition. These discoveries confirm the presence of a diversity of Coryphoideae in Gondwana prior to the India-Eurasia collision and provide information about coryphoid biogeographical history over geological time. Based on megafossil remains, we trace coryphoid palm migration pathways from India to mainland Southeast (SE) Asia and other parts of Asia after the docking of the Indian subcontinent with Eurasia during early in the Paleogene.

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