Fossil Kajanthus lusitanicus gen. et sp. nov. from Portugal: floral evidence for Early Cretaceous Lardizabalaceae (Ranunculales, basal eudicot)

A new fossil flower, Kajanthus lusitanicus gen. et sp. nov, is described from the Early Cretaceous (late Aptian–early Albian) Chicalhão site near the village of Juncal, western Portugal, based on a single coalified specimen. The flower is small, actinomorphic, trimerous and bisexual, slightly compressed and with floral organs tightly adhering. The perianth is organised in more than two whorls. The inner two whorls consist of six bulky, apparently fleshy parts. The outer perianth whorls consist of narrow parts. There are six stamens, arranged in two whorls. The filaments are thick and anthers tetrasporangiate. The pollen sacs are protruding with extrorse dehiscence. Pollen observed in situ is tricolpate, tectate, finely punctate-perforate, compressed and more or less spherical in polar view with a diameter of about 15 µm. The gynoecium is superior and composed of three free carpels. Non-destructive virtual sectioning of the single flower using synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy revealed the presence of several curved ovules in each carpel, arranged in two longitudinal rows on marginal placentae. The character suite of the Kajanthus flower is only found in extant Lardizabalaceae (Ranunculales), where it is particularly close to Sinofranchetia, a monotypic genus that is now endemic to China.