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Similarities and Differences in Dicotyledonous Woods of the Cretaceous and Paleocene. San Juan Basin, New Mexico, Usa

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Fossil wood is common in the Late Cretaceous and Early Paleocene of the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Six types of dicotyledonous wood are recognized: Paraphyllanthoxylon arizonense Bailey, Paraphyllanthoxylon anasazi sp. nov., Plataninium piercei sp. nov., Metcalfeoxylon kirtlandense gen. et sp. nov., Chalkoxylon cretaceum gen. et sp. nov., Carlquistoxylon nacimientense gen. et sp. nov. Woods with the characteristics of Paraphyllanthoxylon arizonense Bailey are the most common and occur in the Cretaceous Kirtland Shale and the Paleocene Ojo Alamo Sandstone and Nacimiento Formation. This wood type's characteristics are stable from the Cretaceous to the Paleocene. There were no significant differences in the vessel diameters, vessel densities, ray sizes, or estimated specific gravities of the P. arizonense woods from the Late Cretaceous (Kirtland Shale) and Early Paleocene (Nacimiento Formation and Ojo Alamo Sandstone). Based on the samples examined for this study, dicotyledonous woods were more diverse in the Cretaceous (five types) than in the Paleocene (two types) of the San Juan Basin. Diameters of the Cretaceous woods examined ranged from 14-40cm indicating they were trees rather than shrubs; diameters of the Paleocene woods examined ranged from 10-80cm. All the woods have generalized structure with combinations of features seen in more than one extant family, order, or subclass. Information from databases for fossil and extant woods indicates that some combinations of features (e. g., solitary narrow vessels, low vessel density and scalariform perforation plates, as seen in Metcalfeoxylon kirtlandense and Chalkoxylon cretaceum), while relatively common in the Cretaceous, represent strategies of the hydraulic system that are extremely rare in the Tertiary and at present. None of the dicotyledonous woods have distinct growth rings, although some samples of Paraphyllanthoxylon arizonense from the Paleocene show variations in vessel density and vessel diameter that may correspond to seasonal variations in water availability.


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