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Describing new fossil taxa is an important focus of work in the lab. We use morphology and anatomy to better understand the evolutionary history and phylogenetic relationships of plants, particularly groups that are extinct and thus only known from fossils. Most work to date has focused on Mesozoic plants, but also includes a range of time periods from the Devonian to the Miocene. 


Previous and ongoing projects include the description of exceptionally preserved non-flowering seed plants from Early Cretaceous lignites of Mongolia, new Cheirolepidiaceae conifers from the Jurassic of Patagonia, and enigmatic plants from the Early Devonian of New Brunswick that shed light on early steps in the evolution of heterospory, a key trait underlying advanced land plant reproductive strategies. 

Relevant publications


Bonacorsi, N.K., Gensel, P. G., Hueber, F. M., Wellman, C. H., Leslie, A.B. 2020. A novel reproductive strategy in an Early Devonian plant. Current Biology 30: R388-389.


Escapa, I. and Leslie, A.B. 2017. A new Cheirolepidaceae (Coniferales) from the Early Jurassic of Patagonia (Argentina): reconciling the records of impression and permineralized fossils. American Journal of Botany 104: 322-334.


Shi, G., Leslie, A.B., Herendeen, P.S., Herrera, F., Ichinnorov, N., Takahashi, M., Knopf, P. and Crane, P.R., 2016. Early Cretaceous Umkomasia from Mongolia: implications for homology of corystosperm cupules. New Phytologist 210: 1418-1429.

Shi, G., Leslie, A.B., Herendeen, P.S., Ichinnorov, N., Takahashi, M., Knopf, P., Crane, P.R. 2014. Whole-plant reconstruction and phylogenetic relationships of Elatides zhoui sp. nov. (Cupressaceae) from the Early Cretaceous of Mongolia. International Journal of Plant Sciences 175: 911-930.


Leslie, A.B., Glasspool, I., Herendeen, P.S., Ichinnorov, N., Knopf, P., Takahashi, M., Crane, P.R. 2013. Pinaceae-like reproductive morphology in Schizolepidopsis canicularis, sp. nov. from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian-Albian) of Mongolia. American Journal of Botany 100: 2426-2436.

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