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characteristic blocky/bulliform?

Dear all

I have been finding this same phytolith morphotype, whose shape is consistent and characteristic.

At first I thought it was a blocky or bulliform cell, but the constant and repetitive appearance of the same shape made me think that it could actually be something else, and belong to a specific plant species / family.

I wonder if anyone in the community has come across the same morphotype and knows its plant origin.

The phytoliths come from 70,000-year-old archaeological deposits in South Africa.

Looking forward to your input and ideas

All the best


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Hi Irene,

I agree that it is not a bulliform and appears to have a distinctive morphology. I would look a seeds from members of the Commelinaceae. Check out Fig 3f from Eichhorn et al 2010: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.10.004. It's not a match with Murdannia simplex but it has some affinity. If your unknown is from the Commelinaceae, I think a key feature is going to be the concave top, whereas most of the seed phytoliths from Eichhorn et al have convex tops or domes with a concavity, except for Murdannia. The Eichhorn et al study was a great start, but there are a lot more taxa within the Commelinaceae that need to be looked at for distinctive and diagnostic phytoliths.  Good luck! ~Chad

Irene Esteban has reacted to this post.
Irene Esteban

Hi Chad

Thank you so much for your response and ideas, which are very helpful, as always!

All the best