We analyzed the plant macro- and mesofossil records deposited in the Paleocene oil shales of the Boltysh crater (Ukraine) in terms of leaf morphology and its implication for reconstruction of the vegetation and paleoecology of the region. During the early Cenozoic, the Boltysh astrobleme formed a geothermal crater lake that accumulated sediments, preserving a record from the Paleocene to the early middle Eocene. These sediments contain fossil leaf fragments of ferns and angiosperms that grew close to the lake. The occurrence of the Mesozoic fern Weichselia reticulata is of importance. This discovery suggests the survival of this Jurassic to Cretaceous fern into the early Paleogene in the refugial geothermal ecosystem of the Boltysh crater area. Our finding is the youngest record of this fern, although it was a widespread and common element of secondary vegetation during the Cretaceous. The local survival of this fern may have been fostered by the unique combination of edaphic environmental factors of the Boltysh hydrothermal area. Other plant fossils include fragments of leaves that represent ferns likely belonging to lineages that diversified in the shadow of angiosperms, as well as remains of the flowering plants Pseudosalix, Sorbus, Comptonia, and ?Myrica leaf morphotypes.
Bibliographical noteVolcanism, Impacts, and Mass Extinctions: Causes and Effects
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