Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Palaeocene 66.4-55.8 Ma

At this time Australia had started to separate from Antarctica, but the eastern and western margins were the only parts that were free. The climate was warm and wet, and most of the continent was covered by rainforest. Based on pollen analysis it appears the rainforests of central Australia were dominated by the family Proteaceae, with more than 20 different types of pollen, most of these early forms would eventually be replaced by more modern genera. Among the Proteaceae pollen that of Banksia-type has been identified. Southern beech (Agathis), among the earliest of the Angiosperms in the Pollen Record during the Cretaceous, was present but not common in the Palaeocene. Fern spores were common, but the pollen of Podocarp Conifers, Celery-top and Araucarian types shows they were declining. The Angiosperms dominated the forests, many families being recognised among the pollen of the Palaeocene - Winteraceae, Euphorbiaceae, Casurinaceae, Myrtaceae, Santalaceae, Sapindaceae, and Restionaceae. One of the earliest families, Lauraceae, has pollen that doesn't often survive fossilisation. This demonstrates why pollen analysis alone is insufficient to determine that floral composition of a pollen sample, common plants may appear to be absent because their pollen doesn't fossilise well.

See Australian Plant Communities - Palaeocene



Sources & Further reading

  1. Mary E. White, The Nature of Hidden Worlds, Reed, 1993


Last Updated 13/08/2009



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