Proposed Symposium Title: PLANTS IN FOSSIL LAGERSTÄTTEN
Abstract: The fossil plant record is meaningfully incomplete regarding the spatial-temporal preservation of vegetation throughout Earth’s history. Various taphonomic biases lead to a selection of specific plant organs to be preserved in rocks or sediments, whereas the majority of plants never had the chance to become fossils, either because they grew far away from any depositional system, their tissues were too delicate to become fossilized or for various other reasons. On the other hand, it often remains unclear whether fossil-species could be treated as “biological units” or should be better regarded as “morphological-anatomical” units from which it is uncertain how many natural species they potentially represent.
Nevertheless, palaeobotanical research was able to discover very important global and detailed and regional steps in the evolution of plants. Essential sources to unravel the biology of fossil plants and their role in palaeoecosystems are fossil lagerstätten. Such sites are known to preserve, e.g., significant parts of fossil vegetation in situ, whole-plant individuals and extinct plant diversity. Therefore, not only the biology of fossil plants can be studied in detail but also vegetation structure, palaeoecosystem functioning and interrelatedness to other biotas.
Fossil lagerstätten are known since vascular plants occupied terrestrial ecosystems. Some of them are really “landmarks” in Earth’s history, such as the Eocene Messel site (Germany), the Early Cretaceous Crato Fossil Lagerstätte (Brazil), the Triassic Kühwiesenkopf site (Italy), the early Permian Chemnitz Petrified Forest (Germany) and the Devonian Rhynie Chert site (UK).
Contributions to this session will demonstrate how plants in fossil lagerstätten contribute to modern knowledge in plant evolution and vegetation history.
Speaker 1: William V. Gobo (& Clément Coiffard, Roberto Iannuzzi, Julien B. Bachelier, Daniel Rodrigues do Nascimento Jr., Lutz Kunzmann)
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Early angiosperms from the Early Cretaceous Crato Fossil Lagerstätte (Brazil)
Speaker 2: Lutz Kunzmann (& E.-M. Sadowski, Martina Dolezych, Alexander Schmidt)
Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden, Germany
Coastal lowland and swamp forests preserved in the Eocene Baltic Amber Lagerstätte and in Miocene lignites
Speaker 3: Michael Krings (and co-authors)
Bavarian State Collections of Paleontology and Geology Munich, Germany
The trophic network of the Devonian Rhynie Chert Fossil Lagerstätte (UK)
Topics (Up to three): Paleobotany
Topic 2: Ecology and Plant Communities
Topic 3: Plant, Animal and Microbe Interactions
Justification: Interpretation of plant evolution also relies on understanding the fossil record of plants. Many breaking-through findings were made on exceptionally preserved fossils from fossil lagerstätten, e.g., the architecture of tree-shaped calamitaleans in the Permian Chemnitz Petrified Forest and bauplan diversity in gnetalean-like plants in the Early Cretaceous Crato Fossil Lagerstätte. It is quite worth introducing modern palaeobotanical knowledge to the broad botanical community and further encouraging collaboration between botanical taxonomists and palaeobotanists who also have a geological background to correctly evaluate the fossil record.