Abstract Detail


Zhang, Xinwen [1], Gelin, Uriel [2], Li, Shufeng [1], Liu, Jia [1], Zhou, Zhekun [1], Su, Tao [1].

Exceptionally rich spinescence fossils from the late Oligocene of central Tibetan Plateau and its environmental implications.

Plant functional traits are shaped by the interaction between plants and their environment during the long history of evolution, reflecting the adaptability of plants to the surrounding environment. Plant spinescence is an important functional trait that is associated with climbing habitats, drying climates, or protection against herbivores. Fossils are excellent materials for studying the evolutionary history of plants and their functional traits. However, spinescence fossils are very scarce comparing to other forms of plant fossils. Numerous well-preserved plant spinescence fossils were found in the late Oligocene strata of the Lunpola basin, central Tibetan Plateau (TP). In addition of morphological studies, model simulation based on the UK Hadley Center Model (HadCM3L) was use in order to evaluate the type of vegetation from this site. According to the characteristics of density, growth pattern and size, they were divided into prickles, thorns, stipules in gross category, for a total of 7 morphotypes. Morover, simulation shows that the paleovegetation of the Lunpola basin correspond to a temperate-tropical xerophytic shrubland during the late Oligocene. Plenty of grass fossils and phytoliths found in the same strata indicate a relatively open vegetation, which supports the results from this model. Abundant spinescence fossils match previous studies on phylogeny reconstruction of spinescence evolution, corroborating a rapid diversification of spiny plants during late Oligocene. The development of spiny plants is also closely related to reported herbivorous mammals that may have flourished on the TP since the late Oligocene. Therefore, the occurrence of diverse spinescence in the Lunpola basin is closely related to the climatic and biotic changes in the geological past on the TP. This study provides a significant evidence for the environmental stress shaping functional traits of plants. In the future, more attention should be paid to fossil evidence so as to understand the evolutionary mechanism of functional traits more comprehensively.

1 - Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Menglun, Mengla, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, 666303, China
2 - Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Center for Integrative Conservation, Menglun, Mengla, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, 666303, China

functional traits
Tibetan Plateau
Late Oligocene

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: PAL4, Paleobotany II: Cenozoic Paleobotany
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM
Number: PAL4003
Abstract ID:544
Candidate for Awards:None

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