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THE ENI GMA OF ANGI OS PERM ORI GI NS


Nor man F. HUGHES
Cambridge University Press, 1994, Cambridge Paleobiology Series I, ISBN 0-521-41145-9.
GEOBI OS, 28-5 - An a l y s e d' o uv r a g e
Thi s excel l ent a nd ve r y or i gi nal book r e pr e s e nt s a compl et e wor k deal i ng wi t h t he pr obl emat i c e ni gma of angi os per m ori gi ns. I t
s umma r i z e s t he r e s ul t s of fort y year s of s ys t emat i cal st udi es done by a pal eobot ani st - pal ynol ogi st , evol ut i oni st a nd geologist,
No r ma n F. Hughes. Wi t h t hi s book he closed hi s sci ent i fi c career. He passed away on Se pt e mbe r 17t h 1994 i n Cambr i dge.
I agr ee wi t h No r ma n Hughes ' opi ni on t h a t t he book ma y be consi der ed as a sequel t o hi s pr evi ous book "Paleobiology of
angi os per m ori gi ns", publ i s hed i n 1976 (C.U.P), but i t i s not i n any s ens e a second edi t i on. Dur i ng t he l a s t t we nt y year s, a l ot
s ear chi ng ha s been done and t he st i l l unsol ved pr obl em of angi osper m ori gi ns ha s pr ogr essed i n t e r ms of i nt e r e s t a nd gener al
at t ent i on, but r e ma i n s i n some r espect s as wi de open as ever. The a ut hor bel i eves t h a t t he f ai l ur e i s not due pr i ma r i l y t o l ack of
appl i cat i on on t he p a r t of a ny one of us, a nd t h a t consequent l y t he r e i s a si gni f i cant er r or of met hod conceal ed somewher e. He al so
bel i eves t h a t r el i abl e evi dence can onl y come from t he fossil record and not from neont ol ogi c pr ocedur e a n d t h a t t he compr omi se
bet ween bot h i s no l onger of va l ue her e. I t i s i n t hi s way of t hi nki ng t h a t t hi s book i s wr i t t en.
On 303 pages r i chl y i l l us t r a t e d by dr awi ngs, di agr ams a nd phot ogr aphi c document at i on, t he book i s di vi ded i nt o t hr e e pa r t s wi t h
f i f t een chapt er s , a gl ossary, r ef er ences and, an index.
Pa r t I - The s et t i ng of t he probl em i ncl udes seven gener al and met hodi cal chapt er s : 1, out l i ne hi st or y of i nvest i gat i ons ; 2,
cont r i but i ons on ori gi n ; 3, chal l enges to cust omar y procedures ; 4, wor ki ng pri nci pl es ; 5, s t r at i gr aphi c f r amewor k ; 6, gener al Mesozoic
palynologic evi dence ; 7, i nt egr at i on of Mesozoic floras and faunas.
Pa r t II - The evi dence for Cr et aceous or i gi ns i ncl udes chapt er s 8-11. I n Cha pt e r 8 - Mesozoic megaf ossi l s - t he a u t h o r cr i t i cal l y
e va l ua t e s t he r ecor d of megaf ossi l s as known t o dat e. I n t he compr ehensi ve chapt er 9 - Engl i s h Ba r r e mi a n monos ul cat e pol l en -
t he a u t h o r pr e s e nt s f r om a met hodol ogi cal poi nt of vi ew t he Lower Cr et aceous angi os per m pol l en f r om t he Ha ut e r i vi a n, Ba r r e mi a n
a nd Ap t i a n of s out he r n a nd e a s t e r n Engl and. Thi s chapt er i s i l l us t r at ed wi t h 56 s c a nni ng el ect r on mi cr ogr aphs of t he ol dest of
r ecor d angi os per m pol l en. The a ut hor descr i bes i n gr eat det ai l t he r es ear ch proj ect i ncl udi ng t he geological ci r cumst ances, met hod
of pr epar at i on, mi cr oscope exami nat i on, i nf or mat i on deal i ng wi t h r es ul t s of r es ear ch i n successi on pha s e exami nat i on, compar i son
wi t h Nor t h Amer i ca, Gondwa na as wel l as t he scope of pr e s e nt unde r s t a ndi ng of MTC ( monosul cat e, col l umel l at e- t ect at e) pollen,
a nd t he r egi onal pal ynol ogi c c ha r a c t e r s a nd bot ani cal affi ni t i es of MTC pollen. I n chapt er 10 - Fi r s t convi nci ng angi os per mous
fossi l s - t he a ut hor cr i t i cal l y eval uat es from s t r at i gr aphi cal , pal eogeogr aphi cal and pal eoenvi r onment al poi nt s of vi ew al l fossil
r ecor ds so f ar known of l eaves, pol l en and flowers. Cha pt e r 11 - Cr et aceous angi osper m consol i dat i on - deal s wi t h t he l at e
Cr et aceous pal eoenvi r onment , l at e Cr et aceous "dicotyledonous" fossils, fossil l eaves, l at e Cr et aceous pal ynomor phs , t he
Ma a s t r i c h t i a n fl oral r adi at i on, "monocot yl edonous" fossils, t he exi st i ng t heor y of ori gi n of "monocotyledons", t he suggest ed s e pa r a t e
or i gi n for pal ms, t he s t r ong r a di a t i on of f er ns i n Ea r l y Cr et aceous t i me, fossil pal ms, Pa n d a n group fossils a nd gener al comment s
on t he La t e Cr et aceous.
Pa r t I I I - Cons equences a nd concl usi ons - compr i ses four chapt er s (12-15). Chapt er 12 - Cenozoic angi os per m r a di a t i on - deal s wi t h
"pal eobot ani cal i ndi gest i on, cl i mat e pa t t e r ns a nd angi osper m r adi at i on, t he Cr et aceous / Te r t i a r y bounda r y phe nome na , Eocene
floras, t axonomy, nome nc l a t ur e a nd evol ut i on, avoi dance of t he use of Qua t e r na r y met hodol ogy a nd t he Cenozoic cont r i but i on".
Cha pt e r 13 - Res ear ch u n a t t a i n e d but possi bl e - deal s wi t h t he r es ear ch probl ems. I n chapt er 14 - Pri nci pl es, t i me a nd choice - t he
a u t h o r di scusses" fossil r ecor d pa r a mount , r el evance of Hol ocene st udi es t o t he past , pal eobot ani cal and bot ani cal baggage, t i me
a nd t he angi os per m defi ni t i on, t he pl a nt begi nni ngs of t he Mesozoic era, Tr i assi c di versi t y, t he "Mesophyt i cum", t he us e of per i od
cl assi fi cat i ons, Cr et aceous fl oral changes, Cenozoic speci at i on, expl osi on a nd maj or geologic event s. The l a s t c ha pt e r 15 - Gener al
biological concl usi ons - i s ve r y cont r ar y t o a t r adi t i on of def i ni t i on t h a t h a s per si st ed for ma n y decades wi t h l i t t l e change accor di ng
t o t he opi ni on of t he aut hor , pr e s uma bl y because i t was locked on to t he concept of a n evol ut i onar y e ve nt of pr obabl e monophyl et i c
na t ur e . He cont i nues i n a di scussi on of so cal l ed "older" char act er s a nd "newer" char act er s of t he proposed fossil angi osper ms,
proposed convent i on, Mesozoic Pol l eni f er a a nd di cot yl edonous angi osper ms, pt er i dophyt e evol ut i on, a ni ma l i nt e gr a t i on a nd
concl udes wi t h t h e r es ol ut i on : "The f ut ur e appear s t o l i e i n gr adual ma s t e r y and i nt egr at i on of t he whol e of t he avai l abl e fossil
record i ncl udi ng pal eopal ynol ogy, a nd especi al l y i n unbi as ed da t a ha ndl i ng of t he product s".
I t i s not eas y to r evi ew t hi s book, wher e ever y sent ence, wr i t t e n i n good Engl i s h st yl e, car r i es i mp o r t a n t i nf or mat i on. The wor k
abounds wi t h new a nd pr ovocat i ve t hought s i n a n effort t o f i nd an effective met hod a nd t o r esol ve t he e ni gma of angi os per m
ori gi ns.
I s us pect t h a t t hi s book of Nor ma n F. Hughes i s a he a d of i t s t i me and was wr i t t e n for t he next sci ent i fi c gener at i on, whi ch will be
l ess i mbued wi t h deep-root ed convent i onal t hi nki ng.
Anal yse Bl a n k a PACLTOVA