First Asian Fossil Record of Platydictya (Amblystegiaceae) from the Lower Miocene and its Paleoenvironmental Significance
moss; Pingzhuang coal mine; Inner Mongolia; Platydictya; paleoenvironment
Frontiers of Earth Science
Mosses form a diverse land plant group in modern vegetation but have rarely showed up in the fossil record compared with vascular plants. Here, we report an extraordinarily-preserved early Miocene moss fossil from the lower Laoliangdi Formation in the Pingzhuang Coal Mine in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, northern China. Although lacking rhizoids and most reproductive organs, the well-preserved fossil allows us to assign it to Platydictya cf. jungermannioides (Amblystegiaceae) based upon its detailed gross and micromorphology. The diagnostic characteristics include a small-sized body with slender stems bearing spirally arranged ovate-lanceolate leaves that lack costae. Leaf margins are mostly partly entire and partly dentate, a few dentate, and rarely completely entire. It represents the first fossil record of Platydictya in Asia. The specific living microenvironment of the extant P. jungermannioides enriched our understanding of the early Miocene environment that was previously based upon vascular plant fossils and sedimentary lithofacies in the area. Our early Miocene Platydictya cf. jungermannioides fossil lived in a warm and humid lush forest with a dense understory that received adequate water supplies.