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Abstract

Two outstanding Permian petrified forests, those of Chemnitz, in Germany, and northern Tocantins, in Brazil, contribute to the understanding of the composition, peculiarities and dynamics of Early Permian wetland ecosystems. These assemblages represent seasonally influenced, essentially contemporaneous but quite comparable, tree-ferndominated plant communities in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The Chemnitz fossils are embedded in coarse-grained pyroclastics of the Zeisigwald Tuff Horizon (Leukersdorf Formation, Erzgebirge Basin), whereas those of Tocantins occur in different lithofacies of a cyclic alluvial succession (Pedra de Fogo/Motuca formations, Parnaíba Basin). The outstanding three-dimensional preservation of particularly large fossil remains, made possible by siliceous permineralization, provides the opportunity to study the gross morphology, anatomy and internal organization of plant tissues, as well as taphonomical and ecological aspects of late Palaeozoic plants in a way not allowed by other preservational states. Recent studies of newly collected material permit a re-evaluation of the popular reconstructions of Early Permian floras. Various plant-plant and plant-animal interactions add to our understanding of two diverse lowland ecosystems that, irrespective of their different palaeogeographic position and taphonomic modes, show striking similarities.

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