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The role of Hydropteris pinnata Gen. et sp. nov. in reconstructing the cladistics of heterosporous ferns

The role of Hydropteris pinnata Gen. et sp. nov. in reconstructing the cladistics of heterosporous ferns

American Journal of Botany 81(4): 479-492

ISSN/ISBN: 0002-9122

DOI: 10.2307/2445498

Large segments of intact plants that represent a heterosporous fern have been discovered within an aquatic plant community from the Late Cretaceous St. Mary River Formation near Cardston in southern Alberta, Canada. Branching rhizomes of Hydropteris pinnata gen. et sp. nov. are 1-2 mm wide. They produce fronds at intervals of 2-12 mm and bear numerous elongated roots. Fronds, up to approximately 6 cm long, are pinnate with subopposite to alternate pinnae that exhibit anastomosing venation. Large, multisoral sporocarps occur at the junctures of the rhizome and frond rachides. Both microsporangiate massulae and megaspore complexes occur within each sporocarp. Megaspore complexes are assignable to the sporae dispersae genus Parazolla Hall. Microspores are trilete, smooth-walled, and are embedded in episporal material of the massulae. A numerical cladistic analysis indicates that the heterosporous aquatic ferns are monophyletic, and not as closely related to either schizaeaceous or hymenophyllaceous ferns as they are to some other filicaleans. Systematic revisions are proposed to reflect newly recognized cladistic relationships within the heterosporous clade, and character originations in the evolution of heterosporous aquatic ferns are evaluated. Hydropteridaceae fam. nov. is proposed, and included with Salviniaceae and Azollaceae in the Hydropteridineae subord. nov., and the Hydropteridales Willdenow.

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Accession: 009618430

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