Illicioxylon, an element of Gondwanan polar forests? Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary woods of Antarctica
The Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary sediments from the northern Peninsula region of Antarctica yield a rich assemblage of fossil wood with well preserved anatomy. Wood specimens of a previously recognized morphotype are described. The woods are characterized by diffuse porous wood, mainly solitary vessels with long scalariform perforation plates, scalariform and opposite vessel-ray pitting, generally uniseriate and biseriate heterogeneous rays, and tracheids with obvious uniseriate, circulate, bordered pits. These fossil specimens show greatest anatomical similarity to the organ genus Illicioxylon Gottwald and extant members of the Illiciaceae. The occurrence of illiciaceous-like wood in Gondwana suggests that the distribution of this family may have been more widespread in the geological past and that a relatively warm temperate climate prevailed over the northern Peninsula region of Antarctica during the Late Cretaceous and early Cenozoic.
Authors: Poole, Imogen, Gottwald, Helmut, Francis, Jane E.