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Temporal range: Givetian
Runcaria megasporangium and cupule drawing.jpg
Runcaria appears to be a transitional fossil precursor of seed plants
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Tracheophytes
Class: Progymnospermopsida
Genus: Runcaria
Species: R. heinzelinii
Binomial name
Runcaria heinzelinii

Runcaria heinzelinii is an extinct species of plant from the Middle Devonian of Belgium. It is the only species classified under the genus Runcaria.[1] It was a precursor to seed plants, predating the earliest of the latter by about 20 million years. The fossil pieces of Runcaria heinzelinii that have been found are short branched stems that at their tips have a radially symmetrical megasporangium surrounded by a cupule.[1] The megasporangium has a multilobed integument, and there is an extension on the megasporangium that suggests an adaptation to wind pollination. Thus, this fossil plant has all of the qualities of seed plants except for a solid seed coat and a system to guide the pollen to the ovulum.[2] It sheds new light on how the seed may have evolved.


  1. ^ a b Philippe Gerrienne; Brigitte Meyer-Berthaud; Muriel Fairon-Demartet (2005). P. Steemans; E. Javaux, eds. The significance of Runcaria (Middle Devonian, Belgium) in the evolution of seed plants. Pre-Cambrian to Palaeozoic Palaeopalynology and Palaeobotany. Carnets de Géologie. pp. 15–19. 
  2. ^ P. Gerrienne, B. Meyer-Berthaud, M. Fairon-Demaret, M. Streel and P. Steemans (2004). "Runcaria, a Middle Devonian Seed Plant Precursor". Science Magazine. 306: 856–858. Retrieved March 22, 2011.