Article: Taxonomic and biostratigraphical re-assessments of Subterraniphyllum Elliott (Corallinales, Rhodophyta)
A taxonomic and biostratigraphical re-assessment of Subterraniphyllum Elliott (Corallinales, Rhodophyta) is presented. Results from studies of the type collection and of newly collected material from north-eastern Italy and northern Slovenia have shown that this taxon is not a geniculate coralline red alga as originally suggested by Elliott and most subsequent authors. Vegetatively, Subterraniphyllum most closely resembles certain living members of the Corallinales; however, the phenetic and phylogenetic relationships of Subterraniphyllum to other Corallinales cannot be determined with greater certainty. The exclusion of Subterraniphyllum from any group of Corallinaceae with genicula is based on unequivocal evidence that branch formation does not involve the occurrence of genicula. Subterraniphyllum seems to be restricted to the Oligocene. Reports of occurrences in Upper Eocene and Lower Miocene sediments cannot be substantiated. Subterraniphyllum, however, cannot be considered a useful stratigraphical marker until further data on its occurrence in well-dated carbonate sequences are acquired. This study illustrates the problems associated with placing fossil coralline algal specimens into geniculate genera without the preservation of relevant morphological characters. This is especially true in the absence of the careful assessment of fossil material with respect to current taxonomic concepts of geniculate coralline genera, all of which are based on studies of living species. According to the current concepts for geniculate coralline genera, the placing of fossil specimens into geniculate genera without appropriate evidence must be avoided by grouping all potentially geniculate fragments under the informal group 'Geniculate sensu lato'. Furthermore, for all those many fossil specimens where unequivocal evidence is not present, it is possible to utilize 'form genera' based on characters that are normally preserved. This leads to creating a consistent, workable system of applying names to most fossil corallines so that they can be reliably used in relation to stratigraphical and palaeoecological studies.