Abstract

Abundant and well-preserved material of the ligulate lycopsid genus Leclercqia is reported from a new Middle Devonian locality in northeastern Queensland (Australia). The plants occur in a chert horizon in the Storm Hill Sandstone of the Dosey-Craigie Platform. Lithological data and conodont analyses combined with information from in situ spores provide an age for the plant levels ranging from Eifelian, possibly Middle Eifelian, to Early Givetian. Plant taxonomic identification is based on vegetative and fertile stems that display both external morphology and anatomy. This material represents the best documented occurrence of Leclercqia outside Laurussia and possibly the earliest in Gondwana; it provides evidence that colonization of Gondwana by the species L. complexa was contemporaneous to that of Siberia and Kazakhstan. Analysis of the distribution patterns of L. complexa suggests that it was adapted to a wide range of environments, but within certain limits which we hypothesize to be those of a climatic belt. Such considerations support previous studies using other biological data, such as faunas and palynomorphs, for reconstructing Devonian palaeogeography. They favour a close proximity of Laurussia and Gondwana rather than the occurrence of a wide ocean separating the two palaeocontinents in Middle Devonian times.

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