Three (middle to) late Miocene plant macroremain assemblages (Pitsidia, Kassanoi and Metochia) from the Messara–Gavdos region, southern Crete
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Geology Department, University of Patras, University Campus, 26504 Rio, Greece
Agriculture Department, Hellenic Mediterranean University, Estavromenos, 71410 Heraklion, Greece
State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, Rosenstein 1, 70191 Stuttgart, Germany
Online publication date: 2020-12-30
Publication date: 2020-12-30
Acta Palaeobotanica 2020; 60(2): 333–437
Based on macroremains, we describe three fossil plant assemblages from the Miocene of the Messara Basin (southern Crete) and the adjacent Gavdos Island. The palaeoflora of Kassanoi, which is the oldest (Messara Basin, Viannos Fm, Serravallian/early Tortonian), is documented mainly by leaf imprints, including a fern, a conifer (Tetraclinis cf. salicornioides) and 23 angiosperms. The assemblage is dominated by Daphnogene polymorpha, Podocarpium podocarpum and Myrica lignitum. The plant record from Pitsidia (Messara Basin, Ambelouzos Fm, early Tortonian) comprises thousands of specimens. The plant fossils are preserved as imprints often covered by an inorganic encrustation (replica). One alga, 2 ferns, at least 5 conifers and more than 45 woody angiosperms were identified. Dominant taxa are Myrica and Pinus pitsidiensis, documented by numerous vegetative and reproductive organs (Zidianakis et al., 2015, 2016). Leaves of oaks (Q. pseudocastanea, Q. kubinyii) and Daphogene polymorpha as well as twigs of Taxodium dubium are also fairly common. From the palaeoflora of Metochia, which is the youngest (Gavdos Island, Metochia Fm, middle Tortonian), (Mantzouka et al., 2015), we report further taxa, including Quercus mediterranea, Ziziphus paradisiaca and a palm (Sabalites sp.). The vegetation is assessed both empirically (phytosociologically) and by Integrated Plant Record (IPR) Vegetation Analysis. The reconstructed vegetation models are presented in detail and discussed in the context of the geological and palaeontological settings of the area. The climate is assessed based on the Coexistence Approach (CA) and the Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program (CLAMP). The palaeoclimatic datasets reveal a warm temperate to subtropical climate, probably with a weak seasonal drought.