Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Yusheng Liu

Committee Members

Timothy D. McDowell, Michael S. Zavada


This study focuses on the morphometric and systematic studies of fossil vitaceous seeds recently recovered from the Gray Fossil Site (7-4.5 Ma, latest Miocene-earliest Pliocene) northeastern Tennessee. Morphologically, all fossil seeds correspond to the extant subgenus Vitis (genus Vitis) of the Vitaceae based on the smooth dorsal surface with a centrally positioned chalaza connected with a conspicuous chalaza-apex groove and short linear ventral infolds that are slightly diverged apically. A multivariate analysis based on 11 measured characters from 76 complete seeds identified three types of seeds, each representing a distinct morphotaxon. Based on comparison with modern and fossil vitaceous specimens, three new species were recognized: Vitis grayana sp. nov., Vitis lanatoides sp. nov., and Vitis latisulcata sp.nov. The close resemblance between the first two fossil grapes (Vitis grayana and Vitis lanatoides) with extant eastern Asian Vitis provides further evidence that the eastern Asian floristic elements existing in the southeastern North American flora continued to as late as late Neogene.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Paleobiology Commons