Fossil pollen and spores are a vital source of information on the geological history of tropical vegetation including reconstructions of vegetation diversity and composition. However, such work relies on a sound taxonomic framework, and this is challenging to achieve because of the large number of pollen and spore morphotypes that are encountered in palynological preparations from tropical sediments. In tropical West Africa, for example, extensive taxonomic work on Cretaceous–Paleogene pollen and spores was undertaken in the later part of the twentieth century, but more recent palynological work has focused on stratigraphy and basin evolution, and there is a need for additional taxonomic work on the pollen and spores of this region. We have undertaken a descriptive systematic study of pollen and spores (sporomorphs) from 15 sediment samples spanning the Upper Palaeocene–Lower Eocene of south-eastern Nigeria. A palynoflora consisting of 29 spores, two gymnosperm pollen grains, and 138 angiosperm pollen grains is described. Two new spore species are proposed, and one new genus and 18 new species of angiosperm pollen are proposed. The general vegetation type represented by the palynoflora consists of palm-dominated swamps, perhaps with mangroves. The richness of each sample ranges from 29 to 76 sporomorph taxa, and rarefaction analysis suggests an increase in diversity from the Palaeocene to the Eocene in this region. Samples from the Palaeocene Upper Nsukka Formation are dominated by pollen with botanical affinities to the Arecaceae (palms) and Araceae (arums), and this assemblage is very similar to the Palaeocene in the Neotropics.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Publication Status

Open Access

Keywords and Phrases

palaeoecology; Paleogene; taxonomy; tropical rainforests; vegetation evolution; West Africa

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2023 Taylor and Francis Group; Taylor and Francis, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2023