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  1. Summary

    Lycopodiaceae are one of three surviving families of lycopsids, a lineage of vascular plants with a fossil history dating to at least the Early Devonian or perhaps the Late Silurian (c. 415 Ma). Many fossils have been linked to crown Lycopodiaceae, but the lack of well‐preserved material has hindered definitive recognition of this group in the paleobotanical record.

    New, exceptionally well‐preserved permineralized lycopsid fossils from the Early Cretaceous (125.6 ± 1.0 Ma) of Inner Mongolia, China, were examined in detail using acetate peel and micro‐computed tomography techniques. The anatomy of extant Lycopodiaceae was analyzed for comparison using fluorescence microscopy. Phylogenetic relationships of the new fossil to extant Lycopodiaceae were evaluated using parsimony and maximum likelihood analyses.

    Lycopodicaulis oellgaardiigen. et sp. nov. provides the earliest unequivocal and best‐documented evidence of crown Lycopodiaceae and Lycopodioideae, based on anatomically‐preserved fossil material.

    Recognition ofLycopodicaulisin Asia during the Early Cretaceous indicates the presence of crown Lycopodiaceae at this time, and striking similarities of stem anatomy with extant species provide a framework for the understanding of the interaction of branching and vascular anatomy in crown‐group lycopsids.

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  2. Well-preserved coprolites (fossil faecal pellets) were found from lignite seams of the Lower Cretaceous Huolinhe Formation at the Huolinhe Basin in eastern Inner Mongolia, Northeast China. These coprolites provide a combination of following features: oval to cylindrical shaped with six longitudinal ridges, hexagonal to elliptical cross-sections, and one blunt end and the other pointed end. According to these distinct features and their size range, the producers of these coprolites are attributed to termites. Termites were estimated to have originated in the earliest Cretaceous with an evolutionary radiation in the Early Cretaceous. The presence of wood debris in the coprolites indicate that the Early Cretaceous termites from the Huolinhe Basin had wood-feeding habits; and anatomical features displaying on the wood debris further suggest their feeding preference was coniferous wood. Besides, the results of a k-means clustering analysis performed for these coprolites indicate that three clusters with different proportion were present, suggesting the division of labor in termites’ sociality existed as early as the Early Cretaceous. 
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