A new lignitised, slightly compressed pollen organ, Erdtmanitheca portucalensis, with affinities to extinct Erdtmanithecales from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian–Albian) of Vale de Água (Lusitanian Basin, western Portugal), is described. The pollen organ is composed of loosely arranged microsporophylls radiating from a central core. The estimated number of microsporophylls is about 100–150. The microsporophylls are sessile and ellipsoidal to barrel-shaped with a flattened or slightly apically depression containing about ten narrow sporangia. The sporangia enclose abundant well-preserved pollen grains of Eucommiidites-type. Pollen grains found in situ are elliptical in equatorial outline, about 16.0–27.2 μm long and 11.9–16.4 μm wide. The main (distal) colpus is long with expanded rounded ends. It is flanked by two subsidiary colpi in an almost equatorial position. The surface of the pollen wall is psilate and occasionally punctate. The ektexine is composed of a distinct tectum, granular infratectal layer and a thin foot layer. The endexine is thick and laminar. The new Early Cretaceous Portuguese pollen-organ is similar in several respects to that of Erdtmanitheca texensis described from the Late Cretaceous of Texas, USA. The new fossil species further documents the importance of the Bennettitales-Erdtmanithecales-Gnetales group in the Early Cretaceous floras of Portugal extending the stratigraphic and geographical distribution of the genus with regard to systematic and phylogenetic significance of the Eucommiidites-producing plants that may have been co-occurring with the Early Cretaceous diversification of angiosperms. It is ascertained that perforate tectum occurs in pollen grains with a welldeveloped foot layer as well as in pollen grains in which a foot layer is poorly developed or lacking, and that pollen features do not support a separation of the Erdtmanithecales seeds and pollen organs.
Keywords: Early Cretaceous, Erdtmanithecales, Eucommiidites, Figueira da Foz Formation, mesofossils, pollen, pollen organ, Portugal
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2010|