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A filmy fern from the Upper Triassic of North Carolina (USA)

Axsmith, B.J., Krings, M., Taylor, T.N.
American journal of botany 2001 v.88 no.9 pp. 1558-1567
paleobotany, taxonomy, new genus, new species, descriptions, plant morphology, ferns and fern allies, North Carolina
Modern cladistic analyses support earlier suggestions that the Hymenophyllaceae (the "filmy ferns") are basal filicaleans. However, the fossil record of the family is ambiguous. A new fossil fern, Hopetedia praetermissa gen. et sp. nov., from the Upper Triassic Pekin Formation of North Carolina (USA), is described and interpreted as the oldest unequivocal representative of the Hymenophyllaceae based primarily on general frond morphology, indirect evidence for a filmy (membranaceous) habit, and soral position and morphology. Particularly compelling as evidence for the hymenophyllaceous affinity of H. praetermissa is the funneliform structure of the indusium (involucre), which is similar to that found primarily in the extant Trichomanes (sensu lato) clade. However, the receptacle in H. praetermissa is relatively short and, thus, more like most representatives of the Hymenophyllum (sensu lato) clade. The Triassic age of this fossil is consistent with the basal or near basal position of the Hymenophyllaceae in all recent phylogenetic analyses of the filicalean ferns. Hopetedia preatermissa is evaluated in relationship to several previous reports of fossil Hymenophyllaceae.