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The first Loranthaceae fossils from Africa

Grímsson, Friðgeir, Xafis, Alexandros, Neumann, Frank H., Scott, Louis, Bamford, Marion K., Zetter, Reinhard
Grana 2018 v.57 no.4 pp. 249-259
Eocene epoch, Loranthaceae, Miocene epoch, fossils, grains, host range, parasitism, pollen, scanning electron microscopy, Asia, South Africa
An ongoing re-investigation of the early Miocene Saldanha Bay (South Africa) palynoflora, using combined light and scanning electron microscopy (single grain method), is revealing several pollen types new to the African fossil record. One of the elements identified is Loranthaceae pollen. These grains represent the first and only fossil record of Loranthaceae in Africa. The fossil pollen grains resemble those produced by the core Lorantheae and are comparable to recent Asian as well as some African taxa/lineages. Molecular and fossil signals indicate that Loranthaceae dispersed into Africa via Asia sometime during the Eocene. The present host range of African Loranthaceae and the composition of the palynoflora suggest that the fossil had a range of potential host taxa to parasitise during the early Miocene in the Saldanha Bay region.