Fossil fruit of Cocos L. (Arecaceae) from Maastrichtian-Danian sediments of central India and its phytogeographical significance
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Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, 53 University Road, Lucknow 226 007, India
Online publication date: 2014-06-17
Publication date: 2014-06-17
Acta Palaeobotanica 2014; 54(1): 67-75
A fossilised palm fruit of Cocos L. (C. binoriensis sp. nov.) is reported from the Binori Reserve Forest, Ghansor, Seoni District, Madhya Pradesh, India. The fruit is a 3-dimensionally preserved drupe, ovoid with clearly visible longitudinal ridges. The husk is made up of a thin smooth exocarp and fibrous mesocarp, with vertical and horizontal fibres present on the inner surface of the endocarp. The fruit is Maastrichtian-Danian in age and is the world’s oldest fossil record of Cocos. The genus Cocos is now distributed in coastal areas of pantropical regions. The occurrence of Cocos along with coastal and mangrove remains such as Acrostichum, Barringtonia, Nypa, Sonneratia and marine algae Distichoplax and Peyssonellia previously recorded from Deccan Intertrappean beds further confirms the proximity of sea in the area in central India and indicates warm and humid conditions. The presence of Cocos and previously recorded palaeoflora supports the existence of tropical wet evergreen to semi-evergreen forests at the time of deposition in the area, in contrast to the dry to moist deciduous forests existing today in central India. The probable reasons for the change in climatic conditions are withdrawal of an arm of the sea from central India, the change in latitude, and a significant uplift of the Western Ghats during post-trappean times.
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