Palaeobotanical study of fossil flora elements from the middle pleistocene of the fossil site Vigla Sychainon at the Achaia District

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Καρανικόλας, Δημήτριος
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The present thesis concerns the study of plant macro-remains from sedimentary deposits of Vigla, Rio-Antirio Basin (NW Peloponnese). The purpose of this study is to describe the fossilized material and make any possible systematic affinities, regarding their classification. Due to their recent geological age, (Middle Pleistocene 170 +/- 68 ky – MIS 6d), and the tremendous presence of oak fossils at the palaeoflora, the systematic affinities, were based mostly on their comparison with their modern analogs, at the country level. Due to that, a detailed leaf morphological description of Greece’s modern oak species, using dried samples, was conducted, to make accurate comparisons and correlations. A significant number (1.320) of plant macro-remains, mainly leaves, were examined macroscopically and stereoscopically, compared, and described as to their morphology. Using the fossil record, the vegetation on the broader study area during MIS 6d was reconstructed, and the knowledge on the palaeoenvironment at that time was enriched. More specifically, plant macro-remains attributed to one of the following morphotypes were recognized: Quercus aff. robur, Quercus aff. kubinyii, Quercus aff. ithaburensis, ?Quercus aff. cerris, ?Quercus aff. infectoria, ?Quercus aff. aucheri, ?Quercus aff. frainetto, ?Quercus aff. sosnowskyi and Zelkova aff. abelicea. Moreover, the presence of Populus, Platanus, Acer, and possibly Pinaceae, was detected. The palaeoflora of Vigla comprises mostly of leaf -morphotypes, resembling modern Mediterranean taxa, and some forms persisting from older geological periods. The fossil record indicates the presence of riparian elements (Populus, Platanus), nearby a lagoonal/lake body, and the presence of an active river channel, which played a vital role in the transportation and deposition of the leaf fossils. On the adjacent slopes and hills of the studied area, a mixed mesophytic forest, consisting mostly of deciduous elements (Quercus, Zelkova), seems to have thrived. The existence of sclerophyllous elements on the drier hinterland (evergreen Quercus, Pinaceae) is possible. The palaeoflora of Vigla indicates temperate, warmer climate conditions, at NW Peloponnese, during the glacial MID 6d, when extensive glacials covered northern and central Europe.
Plant macro-remains, Middle pleistocene, MIS 6d, Peloponnese, Oaks, Palaeoenvironment