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Fossil legume woods of the Prioria-clade (subfamily Detarioideae) from the lower Miocene (early to mid-Burdigalian) part of the Cucaracha Formation of Panama (Central America) and their systematic and palaeoecological implications

Rodríguez-Reyes, Oris, Gasson, Peter, Falcon-Lang, Howard J., Collinson, Margaret E.
Review of palaeobotany and palynology 2017 v.246 pp. 44-61
Miocene epoch, Prioria copaifera, botanical gardens, coastal forests, estuaries, fossils, legumes, microstructure, new species, niches, old and fossil wood, paleoecology, wetlands, wood anatomy, North America, Panama, South America
Three fossil wood specimens are described from the Miocene (early to mid-Burdigalian) part of the Cucaracha Formation of Panama, Central America. The calcareously-permineralised fossils, which contain Teredolites borings, occur in erosive-based pebbly conglomerate lenses, interpreted as tidally-influenced fluvial channel deposits. Detailed investigation of fossil wood anatomy reveals features characteristic of the Prioria-clade, a supergenus of the legume subfamily, Detarioideae. Based on quantitative comparison with extant material in the micromorphology slide collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the fossil material is referred to two new species, Prioria hodgesii sp. nov. and Prioria canalensis sp. nov. Facies data imply that these new taxa may have occupied a similar ecological niche to the extant Prioria copaifera, a saline-tolerant tropical genus that forms wetland gallery forests along tidal estuaries in Panama today. Findings contribute to the understanding of the palaeoecology of this early-diverging subfamily within the basal Leguminosae. They, also, further extend knowledge of the coastal forests along the leading edge of North America during its Miocene convergence with South America.