J Syst Evol ›› 2022, Vol. 60 ›› Issue (2): 456-471.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12684

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

First fossil fruits of Elaeocarpus (Elaeocarpaceae) in East Asia: Implications for phytogeography and paleoecology

Xiao‐Yan Liu1,2, Steven R. Manchester3, Andrew C. Rozefelds4,5, Cheng Quan6*, and Jian‐Hua Jin1,7*   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat‐sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2 School of Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    3 Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
    4 Queensland Museum, GPO Box 3300, South Brisbane, Queensland 4101, Australia
    5 School of Engineering and Technology, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland 4702, Australia
    6 School of Earth Science and Resources, Chang'an University, Xi'an 710054, China
    7 State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China

    *Author for correspondence. Cheng Quan. E‐mail: quan@chd.edu.cn; Jian‐Hua Jin. E‐mail: lssjjh@mail.sysu.edu.cn
  • Received:2020-05-28 Accepted:2020-09-06 Online:2020-09-16 Published:2022-03-01


The genus Elaeocarpus contains approximately 360 species and occurs in mesic forest communities from India, through to China, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia, and New Caledonia. Elaeocarpus fossils are best known from the Eocene to the Miocene of Australia and the late Pliocene–early Pleistocene of India, but have not been documented from East Asia before. Here we describe six new species of Elaeocarpus, E. nanningensis sp. nov. from the late Oligocene Yongning Formation of the Nanning Basin, E. presikkimensis sp. nov. from the Miocene Erzitang Formation of the Guiping Basin, E. prerugosus sp. nov., E. prelacunosus sp. nov., E. preserratus sp. nov., and E. preprunifolioides sp. nov. from the late Miocene Foluo Formation of the Nankang Basin in Guangxi, South China. This is the first reliable report for the genus occurring in East Asia, and the fossils indicate that Elaeocarpus had colonized this region by the late Oligocene and represented by a morphologically diverse group of species by the late Miocene. This sheds new insights into the timing and migration patterns of the genus in East Asia. Elaeocarpus is typically a rainforest genus occurring in mesic forests. Based on the habitat of their morphologically similar modern relatives we propose that these three sedimentary basins were warm and wet adjacent to mountainous regions with the evergreen or rain forests during the late Oligocene to Miocene.

Key words: Elaeocarpus, Miocene, mummified fossil fruit, Oligocene, South China