Revision of the early Cretaceous flora from Hope Bay, Antarctica



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The Early Cretaceous (Berriasian) Hope Bay flora is one of the most diverse assemblages from the Mesozoic of Antarctica. Collected in 1902 by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1903 from Hope Bay at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and described in 1913 by T. G. Halle, it has served as a classic reference collection for Jurassic and Cretaceous southern hemisphere paleobotanical studies. Because the systematics of the flora were outdated by the enormous advances in our understanding of fossil plants during the last 70 years, it was in serious need of revision. This revision has reduced the number of taxa from 61 to 42 species. Newly erected species are Otozamites rowleyi, Kachchhia schopfii, Ticoa jeffersonii, and Araucaria antarctica. New combinations are Todites grahamii and Thinnfeldia salicifolia. The genera Kachchhia, Ticoa, and Weltrichia are new occurrences at Hope Bay. Represented in the flora are members of the Hepatophyta, Arthrophyta, Pteridophyta, Pteridospermophyta, Cycadophyta, Cycadeoidophyta, and Coniferophyta. Not surprisingly, when compared with other Gondwana floras, the Hope Bay flora shows the greatest similarity with other Antarctic floras. There is also a close affinity with the floras of South America and New Zealand. Taxonomic similarity between these floras is best explained by paleogeographic proximity.