Plant Diversity ›› 2023, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (06): 732-747.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2022.12.002

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A novel seed cone of Pinus from the Miocene of coastal Southeast China indicates kinship with Southeast Asian pines

Xiang-Chuan Lia,b,c, Yi Hua, Xiang Zhangd, Liang Xiaoa,b,c, Li-Na Lianga, Rui-Zhi Zhanga, Lei Qiaoe   

  1. a. School of Earth Sciences and Resources, Chang'an University, Xi'an 710054, China;
    b. State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China;
    c. Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Early Life and Environments, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China;
    d. Exploration Company, Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co., LTD., Yan'an 716099, China;
    e. Beijing Youth Education SciTech Co., LTD., Beijing 100089, China
  • Received:2022-08-24 Revised:2022-12-01 Online:2023-11-25 Published:2023-12-28
  • Contact: Xiang-Chuan Li,;Liang Xiao,
  • Supported by:
    This work was funded in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41872017), the Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy (Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS) (Nos. 193113 and 183125), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, CHD (Nos. 300102272206, 300102271402 and 300102271403) and the Undergraduate Innovation and Entrepreneurship Project (No. S202210710194).

Abstract: Pinus is an economically and ecologically important genus whose members are dominant components globally in low-latitude mountainous and mid-latitude temperate forests. Pinus species richness is currently concentrated in subtropical mid-low latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, differing from the latitudinal diversity gradient mostly recognized in woody angiosperms. How the present pattern was developing in Earth's past is still poorly studied, particularly in eastern Asia. Here, a new fossil species, Pinus shengxianica sp. nov. is described based on a fossil seed cone from the Late Miocene Shengxian Formation in Zhejiang, southeast China. A co-occurring cone is recognized as a known fossil species, Pinus speciosa Li. Extensive comparison of extant and fossil members of Pinus suggests P. shengxianica shares a striking cone similarity to Pinus merkusii and Pinus latteri (subsection Pinus) from tropical Southeast Asia in having annular bulges around the umbo on the apophysis. The morphological resemblance indicates these two extant low-latitude pines probably possess a close affinity with the present newly-discovered P. shengxianica and originated from East Asian mid-low latitude ancestors during this generic re-diversification in the Miocene. This scenario is consistent with the evolutionary trajectory reflected by the pine fossil history and molecular data, marking the Miocene as a key period for the origin and evolution of most extant pines globally. The co-occurrences of diverse conifers and broadleaved angiosperms preferring diverse niches demonstrate Late Miocene eastern Zhejiang was one of the hot spots for coniferophyte diversity and hosted a needled-broadleaved mixed forest with complex vegetation structure and an altitudinal zonation.

Key words: Fossil cones, Pinus, Southeast China, Miocene, Phytogeography, Paleoecology