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Abstract Detail

Paleobotanical Section

Stromberg, Caroline [1], Wilson, Gregory [2], Moore, Jason [3].

Late Cretaceous plant communities in central India and the role of grasses.

Based on recently described, rare microscopic silica bodies (phytoliths) from grasses in coprolites and sediments from the Late Cretaceous of Central India, it has been suggested that several lineages of modern grasses (Poaceae) existed on the Indian subcontinent during this time. These phytolith data indicate that Poaceae diversified long before the end of the Cretaceous. Moreover, because grass phytoliths were found in the fossilized feces of herbivorous dinosaurs (titanosaurs), it can be inferred that they were prominent enough on the landscape to constitute some minor part of the diet of these animals. Just how abundant these grasses were in plant communities, however, remains unclear. To better understand Indian floral paleoecology at the close of the Cretaceous, we undertook high-resolution paleosol and phytolith sampling at several classic latest Cretaceous intertrappean fossil-bearing localities, among them the Naskal locality (Andhra Pradesh). The sediments at Naskal reflect deposition in fluvial or lacustrine settings overprinted by paleosol formation, likely under a semi-arid climate. The Naskal phytolith assemblages range from poorly to well preserved and include both abundant forest indicators, including rare palm types, and phytoliths from grasses with various affinities within Poaceae, These fossils suggest that a diverse set of grasses of unknown ecology made up a substantial component of the (phytolith producing) vegetation, at least locally. These findings are consistent with palynofloral studies from coeval deposits elsewhere in central India.

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1 - University Of Washington, Biology & Burke Museum, 24 Kincaid Hall, Box 351800, Seattle, WA, 98195-1800, USA
2 - University Of Washington, Biology, 24 Kincaid Hall, Box 351800, Seattle, WA, 98195-1800, USA
3 - University of New Mexico, Honors College, Msc 06 3890, Albuquerque, NM, 87131, USA


Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 21
Location: Whitewater/Grove
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 9:30 AM
Number: 21005
Abstract ID:884
Candidate for Awards:None

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