Late middle Miocene Konan flora from northern Hokkaido, Japan
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Sapporo Moiwa High School, 3-2-1-1, Kawazoe, Minami-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 005-0803, Japan
Department of Geology and Paleontology, National Museum of Nature and Science, 4-1-1, Amakubo, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0005, Japan
Graduate school of Science, Chiba University, Japan
Online publication date: 2020-12-03
Publication date: 2020-12-30
Acta Palaeobotanica 2020; 60(2): 259–295
Plant macrofossils from the upper middle Miocene Konan Tuffaceous Sandstone and Mudstone Member of the Bifuka Formation, known as the Konan flora, northwest of Shibetsu City, Hokkaido, Japan, were taxonomically revised. A total of 31 taxa were recognized, which were assigned to 14 families and 19 genera, including a new fossil species, Salix palaeofutura sp. nov. The Konan flora includes three taxa of evergreen conifers, one perennial monocot herb and 27 deciduous dicots. The most abundant and common species were Fagus palaeojaponica, Acer subcarpinifolium, Acer protojaponicum, Picea sp. A and Cercidiphyllum crenatum, in addition to a number of species of the Betulaceae and Salicaceae. From the absence of evergreen angiosperms as well as the common occurrence of Fagus palaeojaponica, Picea, Acer and Betulaceae species, this flora was comparable to that seen in the modern Mixed Northern Hardwood Forest of East Asia, which is distributed in northernmost Honshu and extends toward lowland Hokkaido. On the basis of floral features, mode of occurrence, and the lithology of plant-bearing beds, the Konan flora was deemed to represent mountain to riverside vegetation with humid and cool temperate climatic conditions. In contrast to the early to late Miocene floras in Japan, the Konan flora belongs to the late Miocene–Pliocene Mitoku-type flora, with a few relict species from the early Miocene. The Konan flora represents one of the earliest occurrences of this type of flora, suggesting that floral modernization was initiated much earlier in areas with humid and cool temperate climate than previously thought.