Fossil tree hollows from a late Permian forest of the Matinde Formation (Tete, Mozambique)

Araújo, Ricardo
Nhamutole, Nelson
Macungo, Zanildo
Milisse, Dino
Bamford, Marion
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Evolutionary Studies Institute
Fossil tree hollows are seldom described in the literature and can often be elusive to the field paleobotanist. However, these structures may provide unique paleoecological, environmental and tree life history information that are essential for a more complete understanding of ancient forests. A stump from the ‘late Permian’ (Wuchiapingian–Changhsingian) of the Mágoè Fossil Forest in Mozambique (Tete Province) provides a rare example of fossilized tree hollows. These hollows were found near the base of the tree and are subcircular in shape, ranging between ~1.3 and 3.5 cm in diameter. Although thirty-one trees were densely sampled (i.e. no fossil trees were excluded from a given area, in our case ~2650m2) and inspected at the Mágoè Fossil Forest, only one (PPM2017-31) exhibited tree hollows, highlighting the scarcity of these structures in this fossil forest. In modern forests tree hollows are more likely to be found in old trees, likewise PPM2017-31 was among the largest trees found in the sample, suggesting this was an old tree. The subcircular morphology of the tree hollows indicates they resulted from fungal/bacterial activity rather than from a fire.
Mágoè Fossil Forest, Lopingian, Cahora Bassa, paleobotany, tree stumps, Gondwana