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Bamford, M.K. 2004. Diversity of the Woody Vegetation of Gondwanan Southern Africa. Gondwana Research, 7(1): 153–164


Description:

Diversity of the Woody Vegetation of Gondwanan Southern Africa.

Summary / Notes:

The flora of Gondwanan southern Africa is represented in the rock record by micro-fossils, macro-fossils and petrified woods. All these types of fossils are seldom preserved together in any one particular facies because of taphonomic and preservational biases. In order to obtain as accurate a picture as possible of the woody vegetation, both the fossil woods and other macroplant fossils, such as leaf impressions, fructifications and cuticle, of woody plants, have been correlated. This was done for each Formation in the Karoo Supergroup in order to illustrate the changes in diversity of woody vegetation over time. Sediments of the Karoo Supergroup represent the terrestrial fossil record of the period Upper Carboniferous to the Lower Cretaceous when Africa finally separated from South America. In the Upper Carboniferous to Lower Permian (Dwyka Formation) there are at least five described genera of woods from South Africa and Namibia. Early to Middle Permian woods (Ecca Group) are a little more diverse with six genera, representing the glossopterids, cordaitaleans and possibly other seed fern groups. Late Permian to Early Triassic (Beaufort Group) woods show very little change in diversity in spite of the major floral and biotic turnover evident from the rest of the fossil record. Although the Late Triassic (Molteno Formation) macro-flora has been shown to be an example of explosive diversification, the generally poorly preserved woods do not reflect this. Lower Jurassic fossils (Clarens Formation) are also poorly preserved but have araucarian characteristics. Early Cretaceous woods represent the Araucariaceae, Cheirolepidiaceae and Podocarpaceae with a number of species. The diversity of the woods has not changed as much as the rest of the floral components in southern Africa from the Late Carboniferous to the Early Cretaceous. Possible reasons for this apparent stasis are the conservative nature of wood, functional restrictions, limitations of suitable conditions for petrifications and the fact that very little research has been done on southern African woods. Key words: Macroflora, fossil wood, palaeo environments, taphonomy, southern Africa.

Year: 2004

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1342937X05703142


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