Plant Diversity ›› 2023, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (01): 80-97.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2022.01.001

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Coryphoid palms from the K-Pg boundary of central India and their biogeographical implications: Evidence from megafossil remains

Sanchita Kumara, Taposhi Hazraa, Robert A. Spicerb,c, Manoshi Hazraa, Teresa E. V. Spicerb, Subir Berad, Mahasin Ali Khana   

  1. a. Palaeobotany and Palynology Laboratory, Department of Botany, Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, Ranchi Road, Purulia 723104, India;
    b. CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, PR China;
    c. School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK;
    d. Centre of Advanced Study, Department of Botany, University of Calcutta, 35, B. C. Road, Kolkata 700019, India
  • Received:2021-10-21 Revised:2022-01-05 Published:2023-02-23
  • Contact: Mahasin Ali Khan,
  • Supported by:
    Financial support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi (Ref. no. DST/INSPIRE/03/2019/001456) is gratefully acknowledged. This work was supported by an INSPIRE fellowship awarded to S.K. by The Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, INSPIRE Code (IF190496) S. K., T. H., M. H. and M. K. gratefully acknowledge the Department of Botany, Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University for providing infrastructural facilities to accomplish this work. RAS and TEVS were supported by NERC/NSFC BETR Project NE/P013805/1. SB acknowledges the Centre of Advanced Study (Phase-VII), Department of Botany, the University of Calcutta for providing necessary facilities.

Abstract: Ten palm leaf impressions are documented from the latest Maastrichtian (late Cretaceous) to early Danian (earliest Paleocene) sediments (K-Pg, c. 66-64 Ma) of the Mandla Lobe of the Deccan Inter-trappean Beds, Madhya Pradesh, central India. The palmate leaf shape along with a definite well-preserved costa support their placement in the subfamily Coryphoideae of the family Arecaceae. We place all recovered palm leaf specimens in the fossil genus Sabalites, report seven species of coryphoid palms and describe two new species namely, Sabalities umariaensis sp. nov. and Sabalites ghughuaensis sp. nov. The fossils indicate that coryphoid palms were highly diverse in central India by the latest Cretaceous. These and earlier reported coryphoid palm fossils from the same locality indicate that they experienced a warm and humid tropical environment during the time of deposition. These discoveries confirm the presence of a diversity of Coryphoideae in Gondwana prior to the India-Eurasia collision and provide information about coryphoid biogeographical history over geological time. Based on megafossil remains, we trace coryphoid palm migration pathways from India to mainland Southeast (SE) Asia and other parts of Asia after the docking of the Indian subcontinent with Eurasia early in the Paleogene.

Key words: Coryphoideae, Leaf fossils, Late cretaceous-early paleocene, Paleobiogeography, Paleoclimate, Madhya Pradesh