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SomSome new fossil woods from the Cuddalore Sandstone of south Indiae new fossil woods from the Cuddalore Sandstone of south India

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  • Birbal Sahni Institute of (Palaeobotany) Palaeosciences Lucknow

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Five petrified woods showing affinities with Hopea of the family Dipterocarpaceae, Berrya of Malvaceae, Eucalyptus of Myrtaceae and Diospyros of Ebenaceae are systematically described from the Cuddalore Sandstone Formation exposed near Puducherry, Tamil Nadu. Among them, four are new species, namely Hopenium tertiarum sp. nov., Berryoxylon cuddalorensis gen. et sp. nov., Eucalyptoxylon cuddalorensis sp. nov. and Ebenoxylon cuddalorensis sp. nov. Their modern counterparts indicate the existence of wet evergreen forests in the region during the depositional period. However, most of the modern comparable forms of the fossils are absent from the region today and found in the Western Ghats and northeast India having equable climate thereby indicating a change in the climatic conditions in the eastern coast of south India since the late Cenozoic.
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Some new fossil woods from the Cuddalore Sandstone
of south India
N. AWASTHI1, R.C. MEHROTRA2* AND ANUMEHA SHUKLA2
1C3/2, Havelock Road Colony, Lucknow 226 001, India.
2Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, 53 University Road, Lucknow 226 007, India.
*Corresponding author: rcmehrotra@yahoo.com
(Received 01 January, 2018; revised version accepted 01 March, 2018)
ABSTRACT
Awasthi N, Mehrotra RC & Shukla A 2018. Some new fossil woods from the Cuddalore Sandstone of south India. The
Palaeobotanist 67(1): 33–46.
Five petried woods showing anities with Hopea of the family Dipterocarpaceae, Berrya of Malvaceae, Eucalyptus of
Myrtaceae and Diospyros of Ebenaceae are systematically described from the Cuddalore Sandstone Formation exposed near
Puducherry, Tamil Nadu. Among them, four are new species, namely Hopenium tertiarum sp. nov., Berryoxylon cuddalorensis gen.
et sp. nov., Eucalyptoxylon cuddalorensis sp. nov. and Ebenoxylon cuddalorensis sp. nov. Their modern counterparts indicate the
existence of wet evergreen forests in the region during the depositional period. However, most of the modern comparable forms
of the fossils are absent from the region today and found in the Western Ghats and northeast India having equable climate thereby
indicating a change in the climatic conditions in the eastern coast of south India since the late Cenozoic.
Key–words—Fossil wood, Late Miocene–early Pliocene, Palaeoclimate, Phytogeography.
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INTRODUCTION
CUDDALORE Sandstone Formation named after the
Cuddalore Town of Tamil Nadu is exposed along the
east coast of south India and considered as late Miocene to
early Pliocene in age (Wadia, 1966). The formation consists
of lateritised and ferruginous sandstones which are light
pink and dirty white in colour, medium to coarse grained
in texture (Krishnan, 1968; Kumarasamy, 2012). Though
a lot of fossil woods are known from the Mio–Pliocene
sediments of India, the Cuddalore Sandsone Formation
exposed near Puducherry (11°54'49.8954" N; 79°48'52.0986"
E) in the Villupuram District of Tamil Nadu is the richest
in permineralised woods. So far, a number of fossil woods
were described by many workers from Murattandichavadi,
Ayyankuttipalayam, Kasipalayam and Tiruchitambalam
© Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, India
The Palaeobotanist 67(2018): 33–46
0031–0174/2018
34 THE PALAEOBOTANIST
localities of this district. Guleria (1992) has enlisted these
woods and since then only a few have been added to this list
(Jeyasingh & Devadoss, 1996; Kumarasamy, 2012). In the
present communication, we describe ve new fossil woods
collected from Murattandichavadi and Ayyankuttipalayam
localities which are situated 4−10 km NW of Puducherry, in
the Villupuram District of Tamil Nadu (Fig. 1). The woods are
silicied and satisfactorily preserved to reveal the structural
details.
The woods were cut into thin sections, viz. transverse,
tangential longitudinal and radial longitudinal and their slides
were prepared by the standard method of cutting, grinding and
polishing (Lacey, 1963). The thin sections were examined
under the high power microscope and photographed. Their
identification was made by examining thin sections of
modern woods and consulting published literature. The
anatomical terms used in describing these woods are those
adopted by Wheeler et al. (1986), International Association
PLATE 1
Hopenium tertiarum Awasthi et al., sp. nov.
1. Cross section (CS) showing a tangential row of gum canals and
distribution of vessels.
2. CS magnied to show vasicentric axial parenchyma intermingled with
vasicentric tracheids (marked by arrows).
3. Tangential longitudinal section (TLS) showing ray pattern.
4. TLS magnied to show upright cells interspersed among procumbent
cells (marked by arrows).
5. Vestured intervessel pits.
Fig. 1—Location of fossil localities near Puducherry.
AWASTHI et al.—SOME NEW FOSSIL WOODS FROM THE CUDDALORE SANDSTONE OF SOUTH INDIA 35
PLATE 1
36 THE PALAEOBOTANIST
of Wood Anatomists (1989) and insidewood database (http:
//insidewood.lib.ncsu.edu). The type slides are deposited in
the Museum of the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences,
Lucknow (India).
SYSTEMATICS
Family—DIPTEROCAPACEAE
Genus—HOPENIUM Awasthi (1980)
Hopenium tertiarum Awasthi et al., sp. nov.
(Pl. 1.1–5; Pl. 2.1–5)
Diagnosis—Wood diuse–porous. Growth rings absent.
Vessels small to medium, tangential diameter range 90–160
μm, mean 130 μm, mostly solitary, rarely in radial pairs,
mostly oval in shape, sometimes compressed to various shapes,
evenly distributed, occasionally tylosed; vessel elements
range 440–580 μm, mean 513 μm, with oblique to horizontal
ends, storied at places; perforations simple; intervessel pits
poorly preserved, bordered, alternate, seemingly vestured.
Vasicentric tracheids present. Axial parenchyma paratracheal
and apotracheal, paratracheal parenchyma intermingled with
vasicentric tracheids, forming 1–4 celled sheath around the
vessels; apotracheal parenchyma diuse and in the form of
tangential bands enclosing gum canals; parenchyma strands
storied; cells thin walled. Rays 1–4 (mostly 3–4) seriate,
uniseriates rare, multiseriates up to 100 cells or > 2 mm high
and 51–72 μm wide, heterocellular, crystalliferous upright
cells interspersed among the procumbent cells all along the
rays; tangential height of procumbent and upright or square
cells 16–29 μm and 31–86 μm respectively. Fibres thick–
walled and non–septate. Gum canals normal, vertical, mostly
aligned in tangential rows and enclosed in parenchyma bands,
sometimes solitary also, circular to oval, small to very small,
38–85 μm in diameter.
Holotype—Specimen No. BSIP 41588.
Horizon—Cuddalore Sandstone Formation.
Locality—Murattandichavadi near Puducherry,
Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu.
Age—Late Miocene–early Pliocene.
Anities—The anatomical features of the fossil such
as diuse porous wood, mostly solitary vessels plugged with
tyloses, vasicentic tracheids, rows of vertical gum canals
enclosed in parenchyma bands, simple perforation plates,
cystalliferous upright cells interspersed among the procumbent
cells, heterocellular rays and non–septate bres indicate its
anity with the extant taxa of the family Dipterocarpaceae
(Pearson & Brown, 1932; Metcalfe & Chalk, 1950; Kribs,
1959; Miles, 1978; Ilic, 1991). On the basis of arrangement of
gum canals, the extant genera of the family have been divided
into two groups (Ghosh, 1958): (i) gum canals always in
concentric rings (e.g., Shorea Roxb., Doona Thwaites, Hopea
Roxb., Parashorea Kurz., Pantacme A. DC., Balanocarpus
Bedd. and Dryobalanops C.F. Gaertn.) and (ii) gum canals
diuse, solitary and in short tangential rows (e.g., Anisoptera
Korth., Dipterocarpus C.F. Gaertn., Vatica L., Vateria L. and
Cotylelobium Pierre). As the present fossil possesses gum
canals in concentric rings, it was compared with Shorea,
Doona, Hopea, Parashorea, Pantacme, Balanocarpus and
Dryobalanops and showed close resemblance with the modern
genus Hopea. The other genera can easily be dierentiated in
not having upright cells interspersed among the procumbent
cells. The fossil wood was further compared with the extant
species of Hopea and found very similar to Hopea helferi
(Dyer) Brandis.
Fossil woods showing resemblance with Hopea are
described under the organ genus Hopenium (Awasthi, 1980)
and a number of fossil woods systematically described under
this genus are: Hopenium pondicherriense Awasthi (1980)
from the Cuddalore Sandstone of south India, Siwalik of
Kalagarh (Prasad, 1993) and Neogene sediments of Bhavnagar,
Gujarat (Shukla et al., 2013), H. neyveliensis Awasthi (1984)
from the Neyveli Lignite Mine, H. kalagarhensis Prasad
& Prakash (1988) and H. prenutansoides from the Siwalik
of Kalagarh Prasad & Prakash (1988), H. payangadiensis
Awasthi & Srivastava (1990) from the Neogene sediments
of Payangadi, Cannanore District, Kerala and Hopenium
sp. cf. Hopea odorata (Prakash et al., 1994) from the
Tipam Sandstone of northeast India. The present fossil was
compared with the known fossil species of Hopea but found
them anatomically different. Hopenium pondicherriense,
H. neyveliensis, H. prenutansoides and Hopenium sp. are
dierent from the present fossil in having more parenchyma,
while H. kalagarhensis and H. payangadiensis can be
separated out in having smaller rays. As the present fossil
wood is dierent from the known fossil woods of Hopea, it
is described with a new specic name, Hopenium tertiarum
Awasthi et al., sp. nov.
Hopea helferi is a large tree found in the semi–evergreen
to evergreen forests of Cambodia, India (Andaman), Malaysia,
Myanmar and Thailand.
PLATE 2
Hopenium tertiarum Awasthi et al., sp. nov.
1. TLS showing storied vessel elements (marked by arrows).
2. TLS showing storied parenchyma strands (marked by arrows).
3. Showing vasicentric tracheids (marked by arrows).
4. Radial longitudinal section (RLS) showing heterogeneous ray tissue.
5. RLS showing vessel–ray pits.
AWASTHI et al.—SOME NEW FOSSIL WOODS FROM THE CUDDALORE SANDSTONE OF SOUTH INDIA 37
PLATE 2
38 THE PALAEOBOTANIST
Family—MALVACEAE
Genus—BERRYOXYLON Awasthi et al., gen. nov.
Berryoxylon cuddalorensis Awasthi et al., gen. et sp. nov.
(Pl. 3.1–6)
DiagnosisWood diuse–porous. Growth rings present
marked by marginal parenchyma bands. Vessels small to
medium, mostly medium in size, tangential diameter range
87–166 μm, mean 133 μm, solitary and in radial multiples
of 2–5, evenly distributed, 8–10 per sq mm, usually round to
oval, tylosed; vessel members range 180–362 μm, mean 271
μm, with transverse to oblique ends, occasionally storied;
perforations simple; intervessel pits bordered, alternate,
6–8 μm, with lenticular apertures. Axial parenchyma both
paratracheal and apotracheal, paratracheal vasicentric to
aliform–conuent, apotracheal diuse. Rays 7 to 8 per mm,
1–4 (mostly 2 to 3) seriate, storied, uniseriate rays about 25
μm in width and up to 280 μm in height, multiseriate rays
27–61 μm in width and 9–23 cells or 185–482 μm in height,
ray to ray fusion present, homo to heterocellular, usually
made up of procumbent cells, with 1 row of upright or square
cells; ray tissue weakly heterogeneous. Fibres thick–walled
and non–septate.
HolotypeSpecimen No. BSIP 41589.
HorizonCuddalore Sandstone Formation.
LocalityMurattandichavadi near Puducherry,
Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu.
AgeLate Miocene–Pliocene.
Affinities—The main characteristic features of the
fossil wood are: diuse–porous wood, growth rings marked
by marginal parenchyma bands, simple perforations plates,
bordered intervessel pits with lenticular apertures, vasicentric
to aliform–conuent and diuse axial parenchyma, storied
vessel elements and parenchyma strands, 1–4 (mostly 2 to 3)
seriate, storied, homo to heterocellular rays and non–septate
bres. They show its anity with the extant woods of Berrya
(family Malvaceae), especially with B. cordifolia (Willd.)
Burret (Pearson & Brown, 1932; Metcalfe & Chalk, 1950;
Kribs, 1959; Miles, 1978; Ilic, 1991).
Berrya is a genus of evergreen trees found in Southeast
Asia and the Pacic Region. As there is no fossil wood,
known so far, showing similarities with the genus Berrya,
we are describing it under a new genus Berryoxylon Awasthi
et al., gen. nov.
Generic diagnosisWood diffuse porous. Growth
rings present marked by marginal parenchyma bands.
Vessels small to medium, evenly distributed, tylosed; vessel
members with transverse to oblique ends, weakly storied;
perforations simple; intervessel pits bordered, alternate, with
lenticular apertures. Axial parenchyma both paratracheal and
apotracheal, paratracheal vasicentric to aliform–conuent,
apotracheal diffuse. Rays 1–4 seriate, storied, ray to ray
fusion present, homo to heterocellular; ray tissue weakly
heterogeneous. Fibres non–septate.
GenotypeBerryoxylon Awasthi et al., gen. nov.
Family—MYRTACEAE
Genus—EUCALYPTOXYLON Shukla et al. (2014)
Eucalyptoxylon vagadkholensis Shukla et al. (2014)
(Pl. 4.1–4)
DescriptionWood diffuse–porous. Growth rings
indistinct. Vessels small to medium (mostly medium),
tylosed, mostly solitary, rarely in pairs, arranged in oblique
pattern of 4–6 vessels, round to oval in shape, 14–18 per sq
mm, tangential diameter range 76–159 μm, mean tangential
diameter 127 μm; vessel elements range 80–400 μm with
transverse to oblique ends, mean 188 μm. Perforations
simple; intervessel pits not visible; vasicentric tracheids
present, appearing as a thin sheath around the vessels. Axial
parenchyma both apotracheal and paratracheal, apotracheal
parenchyma diuse, scattered among bres and paratracheal
parenchyma scanty, a few cells associated with the vessels;
cells thin walled, 27–33 μm long and 18–20 μm wide. Rays
ne, 15–18 per mm, almost exclusively uniseriate, homo to
heterocellular, made up of mostly procumbent cells, 7–14 in
width and 4–8 cells or 64–153 μm high; tangential height of
procumbent and upright or square cells 13–16 μm and 17–21
μm respectively. Fibres thick–walled and non–septate.
Figured specimenSpecimen No. BSIP 41590.
HorizonCuddalore Sandstone Formation.
LocalityAyyankuttipalayam near Puducherry,
Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu.
PLATE 3
Berryoxylon cuddalorensis Awasthi et al., gen. et sp. nov.
1. CS showing shape, size and distribution of vessels and marginal
parenchyma.
2. TLS showing structure of rays.
3. Showing storied vessel elements.
4. Intervessel pits showing lenticular apertures.
5. CS magnied to show vasicentric to aliform–conuent parenchyma.
6. RLS showing weakly heterogeneous ray tissue.
AWASTHI et al.—SOME NEW FOSSIL WOODS FROM THE CUDDALORE SANDSTONE OF SOUTH INDIA 39
PLATE 3
40 THE PALAEOBOTANIST
AgeLate Miocene–Pliocene.
AnitiesThe anatomical features of the fossil wood
such as diuse–porous wood, mostly medium sized solitary
and tylosed vessels arranged in oblique pattern of 4–6 and
plugged with tyloses, vasicentric tracheids, apotracheal diuse
parenchyma scattered among bres and scanty paratracheal
parenchyma, simple perforation plates, exclusively uniseriate
rays and non–septate bres indicate its anity with the extant
woods of Myrtaceae (Metcalfe & Chalk, 1950; Kribs, 1959;
Miles, 1978; Purkayastha et al., 1982; Ilic, 1991). Among
the genera of this family Eucalyptus L’ H’erit, Melaleuca
L. Nom. Cons. and Xanthostemon F. Muell. share many
similarities with the present fossil. However, extant woods
of Melaleuca can be separated in having aliform to conuent
parenchyma in comparison to diffuse parenchyma in the
fossil, while Xanthostemon has heterocellular rays in contrast
to homocellular rays in the fossil. The fossil wood shows
maximum similarities with that of Eucalyptus.
The fossil woods of Eucalyptus have been described
under the organ genus Eucalyptoxylon Shukla et al. (2014)
and till date two fossil woods have been described under
this genus, i.e. E. vagadkholensis Shukla et al. (2014) from
the Palaeocene–early Eocene of Bharuch, Gujarat and E.
eocenicus Shukla et al. (2014) from the Eocene of Bikaner,
Rajasthan. Further, two more fossil woods resembling
Eucalyptus have been placed under the modern genus
and described as Eucalyptus dharmendrae Bande et al.
(1986) and E. ghughuensis Shukla et al. (2012) from the
Deccan Intertrappean beds of Madhya Pradesh. The present
fossil wood was compared with them and found close
to Eucalyptoxylon vagadkholensis Shukla et al. (2014).
However, a slight variation was observed in the rays which
in the previously described fossil are longer than that of the
present fossil. Eucalyptoxylon eocenicus diers from the
present fossil in having broader (1–3 seriate) rays, Eucalyptus
dharmendrae can be distinguished due to septate bres, while
Eucalyptus ghughuensis is a semi–ring porous wood and thus
is dierent from the present fossil. As the present fossil wood
is more or less similar to Eucalyptoxylon vagadkholensis
Shukla et al. (2014), it has been described under the same
specic epithet.
A few years back Kumarasamy (2012) also described a
fossil wood of Eucalyptus dharmendrae from the Cuddalore
Sandstone of south India. After going through its description
and photographs it has been found that it does not resemble
Eucalyptus. It lacks the diagnostic features of the modern
genus such as echelon arrangement of vessels, vestured pits
and absence of tyloses. Though the author has mentioned
vasicentric tracheids in the description, yet no photograph of
the same was furnished. Hence, its anity with Eucalyptus
remains doubtful.
Eucalyptoxylon cuddalorensis Awasthi et al., sp. nov.
(Pl. 5.1–5)
DiagnosisWood diuse–porous. Growth rings absent.
Vessels mostly small to sometimes very small in size,
tangential diameter range 35–77 μm, mean 58 μm, almost
exclusively solitary, rarely in radial pairs, evenly distributed,
25–35 per sq mm, usually round to oval, tylosed; vessel
members range 65–270 μm, mean 158 μm, with transverse
to oblique ends; perforations simple; vasicentric tracheids
present forming a thin sheath around most of the vessels,
tracheidal pits in 1 or 2 rows and 3 to 4 μm in size. Axial
parenchyma both paratracheal and apotracheal, paratracheal
scanty and intermingled with tracheids, apotracheal diuse
to diffuse–in–aggregate; parenchyma cells thin–walled,
39–107 μm in length and 11–19 μm in width; crystals present
in parenchyma cells. Rays closely spaced, 16–22 per mm,
1–2 seriate, heterocellular, made up of procumbent cells in
the middle portion with 1–2 rows of upright cells at the end
of the rays; ray cells 11–14 μm in tangential height. Fibres
thick–walled and non–septate.
HolotypeSpecimen No. BSIP 41591.
HorizonCuddalore Sandstone Formation.
LocalityMurattandichavadi near Puducherry,
Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu.
AgeLate Miocene–Pliocene.
AnitiesThe diagnostic features of the fossil are:
diuse–porous wood, mostly small–sized, almost exclusively
solitary vessels plugged with tyloses, simple perforation plates,
vasicentric tracheids, axial parenchyma both paratracheal and
apotracheal, scanty paratracheal parenchyma intermingled
with tracheids, apotracheal diuse to diuse–in–aggregate,
crystals in parenchyma cells, 1 to 2 seriate, heterocellular
rays and non–septate bres. They indicate similarity of the
fossil with the family Myrtaceae (Metcalfe & Chalk, 1950;
Kribs, 1959; Miles, 1978; Purkayastha et al., 1982; Ilic, 1991).
The extant taxa of this family, viz. Eucalyptus, Melaleuca
and Lophostemon show close anities with the fossil wood.
However, Melaleuca can be separated out on the basis of
more paratracheal parenchyma, while Lophostemon can be
distinguished due to the absence of crystals in parenchyma.
PLATE 4
Eucalyptoxylon vagadkholensis Shukla et al.
1. CS showing echelon arrangement of vessels plugged with tyloses.
2. TLS showing vasicentric tracheids (marked by arrows).
3. TLS showing exclusively uniseriate rays.
4. RLS showing heterogeneous ray tissue.
AWASTHI et al.—SOME NEW FOSSIL WOODS FROM THE CUDDALORE SANDSTONE OF SOUTH INDIA 41
PLATE 4
42 THE PALAEOBOTANIST
The fossil wood shows maximum similarities with the modern
woods of Eucalyptus.
The present fossil wood was compared with the known
fossil woods (mentioned in the previous pages) resembling
Eucalyptus but found dierent from them in having crystals
in parenchyma cells and absence of well developed echelon
arrangement of vessels, therefore, it is described under a new
specic name, Eucalyptoxylon cuddalorensis Awasthi et al.,
sp. nov.
Family—EBENACEAE
Genus—EBENOXYLON Felix (1882)
Ebenoxylon cuddalorensis Awasthi et al., sp. nov.
(Pl. 6.1–5)
DiagnosisWood diuse–porous. Growth rings absent.
Vessels small to medium, tangential diameter range 70–184
μm, mean 126 μm, solitary as well as in radial multiples of
2–5, sometimes in tangential pairs, irregularly distributed,
5–7 per sq mm, round to oval, tylosed; vessel–members
range 90–270 μm, with oblique to horizontal ends, mean
170 μm; perforations simple; intervessel pits bordered,
alternate, oval, small, about 4 to 5 μm in diameter with
linear–lenticular apertures. Axial parenchyma apotracheal,
diuse to diuse–in–aggregate in the form of predominantly
uniseriate, irregular, tangential lines; cells 40–50 μm in length
and 15–25 μm in width. Rays 1 to 2 seriate, predominantly
uniseriate, biseriate rays made up of procumbent cells in the
middle portion with upright or square cells at the ends, 6–11
per mm, 14–18 μm in width and 3–10 cells or 81–259 μm in
height; crystals observed in ray cells. Fibres thick–walled and
non–septate having bordered pits of 2–4 μm.
HolotypeSpecimen No. BSIP 41592.
HorizonCuddalore Sandstone Formation.
LocalityMurattandichavadi near Puducherry,
Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu.
AgeLate Miocene–Pliocene.
AffinitiesThe fossil wood possessing anatomical
features like diuse–porous wood, simple perforation plates,
bordered pits in bres, diuse to diuse–in–aggregate axial
parenchyma, 1 to 2 seriate, heterocellular rays indicates its
close anity with the modern woods of Diospyros L. of the
family Ebenaceae (Pearson & Brown, 1932; Metcalfe & Chalk,
1950; Kribs, 1959; Ilic, 1991). The fossil wood was compared
with thin sections of the modern woods of Diospyros available
at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow,
besides its published descriptions and photographs (Pearson
& Brown, 1932; Metcalfe & Chalk, 1950; Kribs, 1959; Ilic,
1991; Kazmi, 1982). The fossil shows best resemblance with
Diospyros malabarica (Desr.) Kostel.
Felix (1882) instituted the genus Ebenoxylon for the
fossil woods resembling Diospyros. To date the following
15 species of it are known from various parts of the world:
Ebenoxylon aegypticum Kräusel (1939) and E. ebenoides
Kräusel (1939) from the Tertiary of Libya, E. indicum
Ghosh & Kazmi (1958) from the late Miocene–Pliocene of
Arunachal Pradesh, E. arcotense Awasthi (1970, 1984) from
the late Miocene–Pliocene of Puducherry, E. kartikcherraense
Prakash & Tripathi (1970) from the Tipam Sandstone (late
Miocene) of Assam, E. mohgaoense Chitaley & Patil (1972)
and E. deccanensis Trivedi & Srivastava (1982) from the
Deccan Intertrappean beds of central India, E. bavaricum
Selmeier (1976) from the Miocene of Bavaria, E. miocenicum
Prakash (1978), E. siwalicus Prakash (1981), E. kalagarhensis
Prasad (1989) and E. palaeocalendula Prasad (1993) from the
Siwalik of Uttarakhand, E. obliquiporosum Awasthi & Ahuja
(1982) from the late Miocene–Pliocene of Kerala, E. burmense
Du (1988) from the Pliocene of Myanmar and E. neyveliensis
Mukherjee & Prasad (2013) from the late Miocene–Pliocene
Neyveli lignite deposits of Tamil Nadu. Many of these are
based on minor characters (possibly due to intraspecific
variations) and dicult to be dierentiated. However, the
present fossil is distinct from all of them in having bordered
pits in bres. Therefore, it has been described as Ebenoxylon
cuddalorensis Awasthi et al., sp. nov., the specic name is
after the Cuddalore Sandstone.
Diospyros is a genus of over 700 species of evergreen
and deciduous trees and shrubs mostly distributed in tropical
regions, with a few species in temperate regions. Diospyros
malabarica, the modern counterpart of the fossil, is a
medium–sized evergreen tree native to the Indian subcontinent
and Southeast Asia.
DISCUSSION
A large number of dicot woods are known from
the Cuddalore Sandstone of south India (Guleria, 1992).
They belong to Alangium of the Alangiaceae, Gluta and
Mangifera of the Anacardiaceae, Calophyllum and Mesua
of the Calophyllaceae, Parinari of the Chrysobalanaceae,
Anogeissus and Terminalia of the Combretaceae, Anisoptera,
PLATE 5
Eucalyptoxylon cuddalorensis Awasthi et al., sp. nov.
1. CS showing exclusively solitary vessels plugged with tyloses.
2. Crystals in parenchyma cells (marked by arrows).
3. RLS showing weakly heterogeneous ray tissue.
4. TLS showing distribution of rays.
5. Showing vasicentric tracheids (marked by arrows).
AWASTHI et al.—SOME NEW FOSSIL WOODS FROM THE CUDDALORE SANDSTONE OF SOUTH INDIA 43
PLATE 5
44 THE PALAEOBOTANIST
Dipterocarpus, Dryobalanops, Hopea and Shorea of the
Dipterocarpaceae, Diospyros of the Ebenaceae, Putranjiva of
the Euphorbiaceae, Acacia, Afzelia, Albizia, Bauhinia, Cassia,
Cynometra, Millettia, Peltophorum, Pericopsis and Sindora of
the Fabaceae, Barringtonia and Careya of the Lecythidaceae,
Duabanga, Lagerstroemia and Sonneratia of the Lythraceae,
FirmianaSterculia of the Malvaceae, Xanthophyllum of the
Polygalaceae, Euphoria of the Sapindaceae, Chrysophyllum
of the Sapotaceae, and Holoptelea of the Ulmaceae. Many
of them such as Alangium, Calophyllum, Cynometra,
Dipterocarpus, Dryobalanops, Duabanga, Gluta, Hopea and
Mesua are typical tropical evergreen elements indicating the
existence of wet evergreen forests near Puducherry during the
depositional period. The present ndings of Hopea, Berrya
and Diospyros further support the above view as these trees
are tropical evergreen elements. In addition, the presence of
Afzelia, Barringtonia and Sonneratia suggests littoral and
swamp forests there during the late Miocene–Pliocene. Most
of the modern comparable forms of the fossils are absent from
the fossil locality today and found in the Western Ghats and
northeast India indicating a change in the climatic conditions
in the region since the late Cenozoic. The area has become
drier now and the evergreen taxa have shifted to the regions
having equable climate.
The presence of Eucalyptus in the flora is
phytogeographically signicant as the genus has become
extinct not only from the fossil locality, but from the Indian
subcontinent also. It grows in some parts of the Indian
subcontinent where it is cultivated. At present, the genus
comprising more than 700 species is confined mainly to
Australia, with a few species in the adjacent regions of New
Guinea, Indonesia and Philippine archipelago (Mabberley,
1997). Based on its fossil records from India, Australia, New
Zealand and South America, Shukla et al. (2014) concluded
that an ancient lineage of Eucalyptus was present in the
Gondwanaland continents prior to their separation. As the
family of Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae) has a southern gondwanic
origin (Ladiges et al., 2003), this provides further strength to
the above view. The present day dominance of Eucalyptus in
Australia may be an artefact of human inuence.
Acknowledgements—The authors are thankful to the Director,
Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow for
granting permission to publish the paper. Thanks are also due
to Dr. Madhav Kumar and Dr. Gaurav Srivastava for their
constructive suggestions.
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... In view of its close resemblance with the wood of Diospyros, the fossil has been assigned to the organ genus Ebenoxylon Felix, 1882, instituted to include fossil woods resembling Diospyros. Many species of Ebenoxylon described from various parts of India (Ghosh and Kazmi, 1958;Awasthi, 1970Awasthi, , 1984Prakash and Tripathi, 1970;Prakash, 1978Prakash, , 1981Awasthi and Ahuja, 1982;Trivedi and Srivastava, 1982;Prasad, 1988Prasad, , 1993Antal et al., 1996;Mukherjee and Prasad, 2013;Awasthi et al., 2018) and elsewhere have been listed in Table S1. The present fossil was compared with all of them, but found to be closest to Ebenoxylon siwalicus Prakash. ...
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