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A Caribbean epiphyte community preserved in Miocene Dominican amber

  • Ulla Kaasalainen (a1), Jochen Heinrichs (a2), Matthew A. M. Renner (a3), Lars Hedenäs (a4), Alfons Schäfer-Verwimp (a5), Gaik Ee Lee (a2), Michael S. Ignatov (a6) (a7), Jouko Rikkinen (a8) (a9) and Alexander R. Schmidt (a1)...

Abstract

Fossil tree resins preserve a wide range of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms in microscopic fidelity. Fossil organisms preserved in an individual piece of amber lived at the same time in Earth history and mostly even in the same habitat, but they were not necessarily parts of the same interacting community. Here, we report on an in situ preserved corticolous community from a piece of Miocene Dominican amber which is composed of a lichen, a moss and three species of leafy liverworts. The lichen is assigned to the extant genus Phyllopsora (Ramalinaceae, Lecanoromycetes) and is described as P. magna Kaasalainen, Rikkinen & A. R. Schmidt sp. nov. The moss, Aptychellites fossilis Schäf.-Verw., Hedenäs, Ignatov & Heinrichs gen. & sp. nov., closely resembles the extant genus Aptychella of the family Pylaisiadelphaceae. The three leafy liverworts comprise the extinct Lejeuneaceae species Cheilolejeunea antiqua (Grolle) Ye & Zhu, 2010 and Lejeunea miocenica Heinrichs, Schäf.-Verw., M. A. M. Renner & G. E. Lee sp. nov. and the extinct Radulaceae species Radula intecta M. A. M. Renner, Schäf.-Verw. & Heinrichs sp. nov. The presence of five associated extinct cryptogam species, four of which belong to extant genera, further substantiates the notion of a stasis in morphotype diversity, but a certain turnover of species, in the Caribbean since the early Miocene.

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