Abstract

A new centric diatom genus is described from laminated freshwater sediments of Middle Eocene age near Horsefly, British Columbia, Canada. This diatom, Eoseira wilsonii gen. et sp. nov., grew in filaments that constitute dense monospecific sub-horizons within the white couplets that represent summer deposition in the varved sequence. Although Eoseira clearly belongs within the Family Aulacoseiraceae, several features distinguish its valve structure from Aulacoseira. Gigantism of spines and the lack of geometric relationships between spine position and mantle areolae are the most conspicuous features of the genus. Eoseira is among the oldest freshwater diatoms known and one of relatively few extinct freshwater genera. In addition to serving as a potential biostratigraphic marker, Eoseira is a cornerstone to undertanding the evolutionary trajectory of the Aulacoseiraceae, likely the oldest family of freshwater diatoms. As such, it refines our understanding of early radiations from the marine realm in western North America. Furthermore, paleoecological inferences based on Eoseira life strategy pertain directly to limnological conditions during early Cenozoic hot-house conditions.

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