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  1. Abstract— Fossil fruits of Symplocos (Ericales: Symplocaceae) are here recognized from the Pliocene of Guasca, Colombia, based on specimens formerly attributed to Cordia (Cordiaceae, Boraginales). Symplocos vera (Berry) comb. nov. is represented by 19 lignitized fruits. The fossils are recognized as belonging to Symplocos primarily by their woody endocarps that are apically truncate and that possess 3 to 5 apical germination pores and locules, and a central vascular canal extending the length of the endocarp. In several key characters they are highly congruent with the endocarps of the extant Neotropical clade S. ser. Symplocos . Some of the extant species in the series are variably 3- to 5-locular; 4-locular endocarps are otherwise rare in Symplocos , and 5-locular endocarps appear to be unique to this series. Symplocos vera is the only specifically named record of fossil Symplocos fruits with accessible voucher specimens from South America. The younger Neogene age of the fossils relative to those attributed to S. ser. Symplocos from the late Eocene of Texas, along with a report of Colombian fossil endocarps from the middle Miocene, supports the North America to South America migration inferred for this clade from molecular phylogenetic data.
  2. The end-Cretaceous event was catastrophic for terrestrial communities worldwide, yet its long-lasting effect on tropical forests remains largely unknown. We quantified plant extinction and ecological change in tropical forests resulting from the end-Cretaceous event using fossil pollen (>50,000 occurrences) and leaves (>6000 specimens) from localities in Colombia. Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) rainforests were characterized by an open canopy and diverse plant–insect interactions. Plant diversity declined by 45% at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary and did not recover for ~6 million years. Paleocene forests resembled modern Neotropical rainforests, with a closed canopy and multistratal structure dominated by angiosperms. The end-Cretaceous event triggered a long interval of low plant diversity in the Neotropics and the evolutionary assembly of today’s most diverse terrestrial ecosystem.

  3. Leguminosae are one of the most diverse flowering-plant groups today, but the evolutionary history of the family remains obscure because of the scarce early fossil record, particularly from lowland tropics. Here, we report ~500 compression or impression specimens with distinctive legume features collected from the Cerrejón and Bogotá Formations, Middle to Late Paleocene of Colombia. The specimens were segregated into eight fruit and six leaf morphotypes. Two bipinnate leaf morphotypes are confidently placed in the Caesalpinioideae and are the earliest record of this subfamily. Two of the fruit morphotypes are placed in the Detarioideae and Dialioideae. All other fruit and leaf morphotypes show similarities with more than one subfamily or their affinities remain uncertain. The abundant fossil fruits and leaves described here show that Leguminosae was the most important component of the earliest rainforests in northern South America c. 60–58 million years ago.
  4. Los bosques de la Formación Guaduas (Maastrichtiano, 72-66 Ma) dan evidencia de la asociación florística y ecológica de los bosques en el trópico a finales del Cretácico. Estos bosques habitaban en zonas de tierras bajas, presentaban alta precipitación (>2000 mm anuales), abundancia y diversidad de angiospermas, y una alta intensidad de herbivoría por parte de insectos. El dosel de estos bosques era abierto, con coníferas presentes como árboles emergentes. Los helechos son abundantes en el registro polínico de final del Cretácico, pero aún se desconocen sus afinidades taxonómicas dada la escasez natural de fósiles de helechos en floras en las que predominan angiospermas. En esta ponencia se presentan cuatro especies de helechos de la flora de la Formación Guaduas representados por fósiles de frondas vegetativas y fértiles, e incluyen especies de Acrosticum (Pteridaceae), Blechnaceae, y Polypodiaceae. Dos especies son afines a Polypodiaceae: una de éstas presenta caracteres de venación que lo asocian a un clado Neotropical derivado en Polypodiaceae, mientras que la segunda especie comparte caracteres con varios linajes basales en esta familia. Estos registros indican la ocurrencia de varios linajes de Polypodiaceae en los bosques del Cretácico y contribuyen al escaso conocimiento de la flora fósil en el Neotrópico.
  5. While modern forests have their origin in the diversification and expansion of angiosperms in the late Cretaceous and early Cenozoic, it is unclear if the rise of closed-canopy tropical rainforests preceded or followed the end-Cretaceous extinction. The “canopy effect” is a strong vertical gradients in the carbon isotope (δ13C) composition of leaves in modern closed-canopy forests that could serve as a proxy signature for canopy structure in ancient forests. To test this, we report measurements of the carbon isotope composition of nearly 200 fossil angiosperm leaves from two localities in the Paleocene Cerrejón Formation and one locality in the Maastrichtian Guaduas Formation. Leaves from one Cerrejón fossil assemblage deposited in a small fluvial channel exhibited a 6.3‰ range in δ13C, consistent with a closed-canopy forest. Carbon isotope values from lacustrine sediments in the Cerrejón Fm. had a range of 3.3‰, consistent with vegetation along a lake edge. An even narrower range of δ13C values (2.7‰) was observed for a leaf assemblage recovered from the Cretaceous Guaduas Fm., and suggests vegetation with an open canopy structure. Carbon isotope fractionation by late Cretaceous and early Paleogene leaves was in all cases similar to modern relatives, consistent with estimates of low atmospheric CO2more »during this time period. This study confirms other lines of evidence suggesting closed-canopy forests in tropical South America existed by the late Paleocene, and fails to find isotopic evidence for a closed-canopy forest in the Cretaceous.« less