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Brian Atkinson's fossil displayed on International Journal of Plant Science

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Brian Atkinson, postdoctoral researcher in the Division of Paleobotany and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology recently described a new fossil, Suciacarpa xiangae, that was featured on the front cover of the International Journal of Plant Science. The cover displays an exceptionally preserved fruit of Suciacarpa xiangae Atkinson, Stockey, & Rothwell sp. nov. from the late Campanian (~73 Ma) of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Atkinson et al. characterize this new species based on a permineralized endocarp with conspicuous germination valves and numerous secretory cavities. Comparative analysis indicates that S. xiangae is assignable to the earliest-diverging asterid order, Cornales, and has a mosaic of fruit characters indicative of several families within two major clades: Cornaceae-Alangiaceae and Nyssaceae-Mastixiaceae-Davidiaceae. The combination of characters seen in S. xiangae and other Cretaceous cornaleans suggests that the Campanian was a particularly important time for the evolution of extant major clades within Cornales.

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