Premise of research. The early Eocene Laguna del Hunco (LH) fossil site, northwestern Chubut Province, Argentina, holds one of the best-preserved and most diverse paleofloras worldwide. The paleoflora comprises ferns, gymnosperms, and flowering plants. Despite the rapidly growing knowledge of its macrofossil record, little is known about the site’s palynological content. Herein, we present the first dispersed spore-pollen assemblages recovered from LH. Methodology. Palynological samples were collected from seven stratigraphic levels of the Tufolitas de LH (Huitrera Formation), of which six yielded palynomorphs. We determine the botanical affinities of fossil morphotypes and provide systematic descriptions of some taxa. In addition, we establish similarities between LH and other Patagonian Eocene localities, and we compare palynological and prior megafloral records from LH. Pivotal results. We identify 56 spore and pollen species and 28 plant families, of which eight (Cyatheaceae, Schizaeaceae, Polypodiaceae, Asteraceae, Chloranthaceae, Nothofagaceae, Rubiaceae, and Ulmaceae) are reliably reported from the site for the first time. Among other Eocene Patagonian palynofloras, the LH assemblage is similar to Pampa de Jones/Nahuel Huapi Este and Confluencia. Conclusions. The LH spore-pollen assemblages augment the plant fossil record for this significant Eocene locality by incorporating new taxa (e.g., Asteraceae, with one morphotype that represents the oldest record of the family in Patagonia). The new data also reinforce the presence of plant families previously reported from macrofossils, such as Juglandaceae, with pollen grains similar to those of the Engelhardia-Alfaroa group, and Fagaceae (Castaneoideae), complementing the macrofossil record of leaves and reproductive structures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science