Abstract

Two informal sporomorph assemblage zones can be distinguished in the dinosaur-bearing Tendaguru Beds of southeast Tanzanian. The first zone, the ClassopollisAraucariacitesShanbeipollenites Assemblage Zone, ranges from the Lower to the Upper Saurian Bed, and a mid-Oxfordian to Tithonian age is suggested based on the presence of Shanbeipollenites quadratus. The second zone, the ClassopollisCicatricosisporitesRuffordiaspora Assemblage Zone, is restricted in the Trigonia schwarzi Bed, which overlies the Upper Saurian Bed. The combined ranges of Cicatricosisporites hughesii, Ruffordiaspora australiensis and Trilobosporites obsitus would be consistent with a late Berriasian to Hauterivian age of this zone. This is refined further to late Valanginian to Hauterivian on the basis of already existing evidence from fauna and dinoflagellate cysts. From a phytogeographic point of view the Tendaguru locality belongs to the southern Gondwana Trisaccates Province because of the presence of trisaccate podocarpaceous pollen. The quantitative composition of the palynofloras is characterized by the dominance or abundance of pollen produced by the two conifer families Cheirolepidiaceae (Classopollis) and Araucariaceae (mainly Araucariacites). Pollen of Cheirolepidiaceae, typically xerophytic, drought-resistant, thermophilic plants, is dominant throughout the Tendaguru Beds except in parts of the Middle Saurian Bed where pollen of Araucariaceae, a presumably mesic group, becomes most abundant. Classopollis attains the highest degree of dominance in the shallow marine deposits associated with the saurian beds. This may be related to paleoecological and taphonomic factors, namely abundance of Classopollis-producing plants in low-lying coastal environments close to the lagoon-like depositional sites and transportational sorting of sporomorphs leading to a relative enrichment of small and/or anemophilous pollen. The abundance of Araucariacites in the Middle Saurian Bed suggests that araucarians existed in coastal plain environments that were stable enough to allow the growth of large trees. This open araucarian forest, which may have been a source of food for high-browsing dinosaurs, was situated landward of the cheirolepidiacean belt not far from the depositional sites. Pteridophytes and bryophytes were concentrated at moist places and around water bodies. Podocarpaceous conifers producing bisaccate and trisaccate pollen grew in local uplands, while gnetaleans related to Ephedra and Welwitschia may have been present in dry places. The palynological evidence is consistent with a seasonally dry, tropical to sub-tropical paleoclimate. Three new combinations, Equisetosporites certus (Bolkhovitina), Jugella caichigüensis (Volkheimer and Quattrocchio) and Trichotomosulcites microsaccatus (Couper), are proposed, and Jugella semistriata is described as a new species.

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