• Lower Devonian;
  • Pragian;
  • Emsian;
  • spores;
  • early land plants;
  • Yunnan;
  • China

Abstract:  The Lower Devonian Xujiachong Formation from the vicinity of Qujing City, Yunnan, China is interpreted as a terrestrial-fluviatile-lacustrine sequence. It contains important nonmarine biotas including plants, fish and invertebrates. The plants are particularly interesting as they include many endemic taxa. Dispersed spore assemblages have been recovered from the upper part of this formation. The spores are well preserved and of moderate thermal maturity. They are systematically described and four new species erected: Aneurospora xujiachongensis sp. nov., Chelinospora ouyangii sp. nov., Camptozonotriletes? luii sp. nov. and Leiozonospora xichongensis sp. nov. One new combination is proposed: Aneurospora conica (Ouyang and Lu) comb. nov. This is a rare report of a Lower Devonian dispersed spore assemblage from the South China Plate. Indeed, few dispersed spore assemblages of this age are known outside of Euramerica and Northern Gondwana. It is suggested that the Xujiachong Formation spore assemblages can all be equated to the polygonalis-emsiensis Spore Assemblages Biozone (PE SAB) of Richardson and McGregor (1986) indicating an early (but not earliest) Pragian to ?earliest Emsian age. However, caution is urged, because biostratigraphical interpretation is difficult owing to distinct differences between dispersed spore assemblages from South China and Euramerica/Northern Gondwana. This almost certainly reflects palaeophytogeographical variation and regional endemism among early land plant floras on widely separated land masses. Palynofacies analysis supports a nonmarine origin for the deposits of the Xujiachong Formation, with the very rare marine palynomorphs that were encountered interpreted as reworked.