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Environmental Significance of Abundant and Diverse Hornwort Spores in a Potential Submerged Paleoindian Site in the Gulf of Mexico
- Warny, Sophie, Jarzen, David M., Evans, Amanda, Hesp, Patrick, Bart, Philip
- Palynology 2012 v.36 no.2 pp. 234-253
- American Indians, climatic factors, fossils, humans, palynology, pollen, ponds, sediments, spores, vegetation, Gulf of Mexico
- A palynological analysis of sediments sampled from core HI-178, offshore High Island, Texas, provided a diverse and well-preserved palynoflora. The main objective was to analyze the environmental conditions at time of deposition. A secondary objective was to evaluate whether or not this site might have been occupied by Native Americans by looking for signs of human-driven changes in vegetation. Here we focus on the abundance of hornwort spores recovered from these samples, review their diversity, compare the fossil spores to modern analogues and discuss the paleoenvironmental implications of hornwort abundance. Although no direct evidence of human occupation was found, the pollen and spore assemblage recovered, marked by high abundance and diversity in spores of hornworts belonging to the families Anthocerotaceae and Notothyladaceae, indicate that this site was most likely not submerged at the time of deposition; human occupation was therefore possible. This site represents a coastal low-lying area with ponds or slow-moving waters that provided the humid environment needed for hornworts to reproduce and thrive under warm climatic conditions.