PALYNOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR EPICONTINENTAL DRY SUBTROPICAL TO TEMPERATE CLIMATIC CONDITIONS DURING THE EOCENE IN THE SOUTHEAST MEDITERRANEAN
Opaque phytoclasts dominated the recorded particulate organic matter (POM) components, which contain minor amounts of degraded phytoclasts and palynomorphs. This POM association reflects (1) oxidizing depositional paleoenvironmental controls that selectively destroyed the majority of less resistant organic particles, leaving only few types of POM, and/or (2) organic-poor facies in an area characterized by patchy vegetation, similar to the present day arid/desert conditions.
Identified palynomorphs include Momipites coryloides, Triatriopollenites triangulus, Pinuspollenites, and pollen similar to those of the family Amaranthaceae. M. coryloides is derived from wind-pollinated angiosperm trees of the Engelhardia-Oromunnea-Alfaroa complex (Juglandaceae). Pinuspollenites are produced by the well-known evergreen, conifer trees of the gymnosperm family Pinaceae. In contrast, angiospermous pollen grains of T. triangulus (Myricaceae) and those of the family Amaranthaceae are usually produced by small trees, herbs, and shrubs. This pollen association represents a woodland-savanna ecosystem subject to dry subtropical-temperate climatic conditions. The prevailing low moisture habitat probably prevented the woodland from fully developing and diversifying, providing a good opportunity for the herb/shrub community to grow and spread. This scenario, combined with the oxidizing conditions, explains the absence of embryophytic spores in all the analyzed samples.