Palynological records from the Western Portuguese and Algarve basins (Portugal) provide new insights on the timing and pattern of the early diversification of angiosperms (flowering plants) and its relationship to global environmental perturbations during the late Early Cretaceous. Angiosperm pollen displays a stepwise increase in both diversity and relative abundance during the late Barremian to middle Albian interval (ca. 124–104 Ma), reflecting the incipient radiation of flowering plants in lower midlatitude floras. Our results provide new evidence for the age interpretation of the previously described angiosperm mesofossil floras and associated in situ pollen assemblages from the Western Portuguese basin, until now interpreted as Barremian or possibly Aptian in age. Biostratigraphic and sedimentologic evidence indicates a post-Aptian age for these assemblages, hence demonstrating a major radiation phase of angiosperms during the early Albian. Correlation of the angiosperm pollen record with data on global paleoenvironmental changes suggests a link between the rapid adaptive radiation of flowering plants and major climatic and oceanographic perturbations during the late Early Cretaceous.

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