From animal to plant kingdom: the alleged sponge Siphonia bovista Geinitz from the Cretaceous of Saxony (Germany) in fact represents internal moulds of the cone-like plant fossil Dammarites albens Presl in Sternberg


Authors: Niebuhr B

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 94, issue 2; pages: 221 - 234; Received 11 November 2018; Accepted in revised form 6 May 2019; Online 6 June 2019

Keywords: Upper Cretaceous, Saxonian, Bohemian and Intrasudetic Cretaceous basins, brackish environment, fossil conifer, Dammarites albens,

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The smooth Siphonia bovista Gein. from the Saxonian Cretaceous Basin, introduced as a siliceous sponge by Hanns Bruno Geinitz in 1871, is interpreted as the simple internal mould of the cone-like plant fossil Dammarites albens Presl in Sternberg, 1838, representing the composite mould of the same organism, just in different preservation. Apart from the globular to egg-shaped outline, the size ratios and the same laterally flattened compaction, especially the basal area around the short stalk which is arched inwardly forms a characteristic feature of the taxon. Cone-like plant bodies and leaves of the salt-tolerant dwarf gymnosperm D. albens are always found in the lowermost marine sandstones of the Bohemian and Intrasudetic Cretaceous basins (Middle-Upper Cenomanian), overlying fluviatile to brackish strata. The same is true for “S. bovista”: all Saxonian specimens were found in the lower Upper Cenomanian Unterquader of the Oberhäslich Formation, overlying the brackish Wurmsandstein of the uppermost Niederschöna Formation. Environment, sedimentary conditions and stratigraphic position of the smooth preservation form Siphonia bovista Gein. and the cone-like plant bodies of Dammarites albens Presl in Sternberg of Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland are thus identical. The species name Siphonia bovista Geinitz, 1871 is a rejected name and, therefore, replaced by Dammarites albens Presl in Sternberg, 1838 herein. The reinterpretation of “Siphonia bovista Gein.” from Saxony provides the first proof of Dammarites albens Presl in Sternberg for Germany.