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Novel three-dimensional reconstructions of presumed Phylica (Rhamnaceae) from Cretaceous amber suggest Lauralean affinities

by SImon Beurel, Julien B. Bachelier, Alexander R. Schmidt, & Eva-Maria Sadowski in Nature Plants

News from Jan 30, 2024

In a recent study, Shi et al.1 assigned several plant inclusions from mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber of Myanmar to Rhamnaceae, which belong to eudicots, a major clade of flowering plants. However, some of the inflorescence and floral traits described by the authors are either not found in extant Rhamnaceae (including Phylica) or appeared poorly preserved in the fossil. Here we thus re-evaluate the original micro X-ray computed tomography (microXCT) scanning data provided by Shi et al.1 and demonstrate that these fossil flowers do not possess any affinities with Phylica or any other Rhamnaceae but rather share a mosaic of unmistakable similarities with members of magnoliids, especially Laurales. We thus propose to accommodate the fossil in a new genus, Nothophylica gen. nov., and conclude that its affinities with members of a magnoliid lineage of flowering plants are also more consistent with current age estimates of flowering plants.

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