Plant-insect interactions are readily identifiable in the fossil record when insect activities cause damage to plant tissues, for example, leaf mining, piercing, galls. However, the inference of insect pollination of extinct plants usually must be based on comparative morphology of plants and insects or based on phylogenetic relationships and pollination habits of extant taxa. The presence of insect coprolites can provide additional evidence supporting the inference of plant-insect interactions based on the morphology and composition of the fossilized feces. In this article, we describe Noferinia fusicarpa gen. et sp. nov. based on fossil flowers and fruits recovered from the Buffalo Creek Member of the Galliard Formation (late Santonian, Cretaceous) of central Georgia. The morphology of the flowers - differentiated perianth, basally connate calyx and corolla, inferior ovary, and possible nectiferous pores surrounding the base of the style - is consistent with generalized insect pollination. Associated with Noferinia flowers and fruits in the same sediment samples are five morphotypes of coprolites that are similar in shape and composition to the feces produced by modern beetles that feed on pollen and flowers. On the basis of the morphological features exhibited by Noferinia and by the coprolites containing its pollen, we suggest that Noferinia fusicarpa was insect pollinated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science