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Boyce, C. Kevin [1], Nelsen, Matthew P. [2].

What to do with Prototaxites?

Fran Hueber was probably the greatest devotee over the last century to the enigmatic fossil Prototaxites. His interpretation of it as a fungus still stands as the most likely option, as has been supported by geochemistry and continued recovery of new fossil material. However, his work culminated at a time when our understanding of the evolutionary relationships and ages of fungal lineages was in flux and still subject to considerable future upheaval. The anatomical evidence amassed by Hueber can now be reevaluated in both a phylogenetic and temporal framework that has only reached consensus over the last decade. Specific extant lineages of basidiomycetes that served as points of comparison are useful as analogy but are now recognized to be far too young to be directly related. A convergent transition to production of a dense filamentous tissue independent of any extant fungus cannot be ruled out. In which case, there is no clear requirement that Prototaxites was in the Dikarya beyond recent suggestions based on fossil associations that it may be an ascomycete. Recurring suggestions that Prototaxites was a lichen are evaluated and likely to have been prohibited by opposing constraints on the geometry of trunk growth and on the gas exchange and light requirements of a photosynthetic symbiont.

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1 - Stanford University, Geological Sciences, 450 Jane Stanford Way, Bldg. 320, Stanford, CA, 94305, United States
2 - Field Museum of Natural History, Negaunee Integrative Research Center, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605, Chicago, IL, 60605, USA

none specified

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: PL5, Paleobotany: Honoring Fran Hueber - Session III
Location: /
Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021
Time: 3:15 PM(EDT)
Number: PL5002
Abstract ID:794
Candidate for Awards:None

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