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Plant Diversity and Resources

Fruit fossils of Rosoideae (Rosaceae) from the late Pliocene of northwestern Yunnan, Southwest China

Yong-Jiang Huang1,2,3,5*, Hai Zhu1,4, Arata Momohara5, Lin-Bo Jia1, and Zhe-Kun Zhou1,6*

1Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China

2State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China

3Yunnan Key Laboratory for Palaeobiology, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China

4College of Life Science, Shangrao Normal University, Shangrao 334001, Jiangxi, China

5Graduate School of Horticulture, Chiba University, Chiba 271-8510, Japan

6Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, Yunnan, China

Keywords: carpology, Fragaria, Heqing Basin, Rubus, Sanying Formation, Yunnan


The subfamily Rosoideae Focke (Rosaceae) has a good fossil record in the Northern Hemisphere, but these fossil records are confined mainly to a few genera, whereas the majority, in particular those with herbaceous members, are still under-represented. In this study, we describe new fruit fossils of Rosoideae, including Fragaria achenes and Rubus endocarps, from the late Pliocene of northwestern Yunnan, Southwest China. These fossils add new accounts to the fossil archive of Rosoideae and provide the first fossil record of Fragaria in East Asia. The new fossil findings provide a historical backdrop for the modern diversity and distribution of the subfamily in northwestern Yunnan, a topographically complex area accommodating a high diversity for many plant groups. Our Rubus fossils, in combination with other nearby coeval occurrences of the genus, suggest that Rubus was already establishing its modern diversity in northwestern Yunnan during the late Pliocene. This finding enriches our knowledge of the post-Neogene diversification of flowering plants in northwestern Yunnan, which is thought to be largely driven by dramatic mountain uplifts and environmental complication associated with the southeastern extension of the Tibetan Plateau.

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