Molecular data on relationships within angiosperms confirm the view that their increasing morphological diversity through the Cretaceous reflected their evolutionary radiation. Despite the early appearance of aquatics and groups with simple flowers, the record is consistent with inferences from molecular trees that the first angiosperms were woody plants with pinnately veined leaves, multiparted flowers, uniovulate ascidiate carpels, and columellar monosulcate pollen. Molecular data appear to refute the hypothesis based on morphology that angiosperms and Gnetales are closest living relatives. Morphological analyses of living and fossil seed plants that assume molecular relationships identify glossopterids, Bennettitales, and as angiosperm relatives; these results are consistent with proposed homologies between the cupule of glossopterids and and the angiosperm bitegmic ovule. Jurassic molecular dates for the angiosperms may be reconciled with the fossil record if the first angiosperms were restricted to wet forest understory habitats and did not radiate until the Cretaceous.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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