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Extending the Range of Derived Late Paleozoic Conifers: Lebowskia gen. nov. (Majonicaceae)
Abstract and Figures
Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the conifer families Majonicaceae and Ullmanniaceae (voltzian Voltziales), known from the equatorial Late Permian Euro-American flora province, arose from a member of a paraphyletic group of walchian Voltziales commonly referred to as walchian conifers. The Majonicaceae and Ullmanniaceae are more derived in that they have fused female reproduction organs and a more advanced reproduction strategy that involves a pollen tube. Until recently, it has not been possible to establish with accuracy when these conifers originated or when they started their rise to dominance over the walchian conifers. Findings from late Early to early Middle Permian localities in north-central Texas prove that radiation in these conifer lineages occurred significantly earlier than previously thought. The natural genus Lebowskia (Majonicaceae) from the Early Lower Pease River flora is described and compared with Late Permian taxa. It confirms that the Majonicaceae were already well differentiated during Early Permian times and considerably extends their geographic and temporal range. It shows that structural evolution and diversification among these conifer taxa took place before late Early Permian. Evolution and migration of conifers in the Late Paleozoic tropical regions seems to have been strongly influenced by the increasingly drier climate.
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