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New fossil discoveries illustrate the diversity of past terrestrial ecosystems in New Caledonia

Abstract : Abstract New Caledonia was, until recently, considered an old continental island harbouring a rich biota with outstanding Gondwanan relicts. However, deep marine sedimentation and tectonic evidence suggest complete submergence of the island during the latest Cretaceous to the Paleocene. Molecular phylogenies provide evidence for some deeply-diverging clades that may predate the Eocene and abundant post-Oligocene colonisation events. Extinction and colonization biases, as well as survival of some groups in refuges on neighbouring paleo-islands, may have obscured biogeographic trends over long time scales. Fossil data are therefore crucial for understanding the history of the New Caledonian biota, but occurrences are sparse and have received only limited attention. Here we describe five exceptional fossil assemblages that provide important new insights into New Caledonia’s terrestrial paleobiota from three key time intervals: prior to the submersion of the island, following re-emergence, and prior to Pleistocene climatic shifts. These will be of major importance for elucidating changes in New Caledonia’s floristic composition over time.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 17, 2021 - 11:03:36 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 10:59:31 PM

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Romain Garouste, Jérôme Munzinger, Andrew Leslie, Jessica Fisher, Nicolas Folcher, et al.. New fossil discoveries illustrate the diversity of past terrestrial ecosystems in New Caledonia. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, In press, 11 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-021-97938-5⟩. ⟨hal-03347342⟩

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