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Plant Fossils From Borneo

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I've had these plant fossils in my collection for some years now but I'm new here and thought you might like to see them. They're all from Sabah in Borneo and from accumulations that have likely dropped out of the Kulapis Formation during heavy rains. This sandstone uplift dates from Eocene to Oligocene but my feeling is that these are more likely to originate from the mudstone and shale deposits which are I believe largely Eocene. But I don't know that for certain.

Firstly we have a fig which appears to have some bird predation (second pic). This pecking hole seems to have assisted in differential mineralisation of the fruit since the fossil actually rattles. I don't have the guts to saw it in half to see if the interior has preserved the seeds and other structures:




...and in this close-up of the top you can see insect predation, which I guess is probably from fig wasp larvae, which are tiny:


Next, we have what the locals call a "Snake Fruit" (Salacca species). These still grow in Malaysia and Indonesia today. The leathery skin strips off to reveal a cluster of creamy-white bulbs which have the texture of a dryish apple and a flavour reminiscent of strawberries. Some major insect predation here too:



This one I'm not terribly sure about, but I guess it's a palm fruit of some kind:


Then there is this which has such a strong resemblance to the heads of garlic in my kitchen that I'm sure it must be Allium species:



And finally this cute little pair which are the bulbs of some kind of flowering plant. Orchid possibly, given the location?


If anyone has any information to add, it would be highly appreciated. There's not too much information out there on fossils of Borneo.


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I don't know much about plant fossils, but those are certainly quite interesting and unique! I'm also curious if anyone knows more about them.

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Those are very cool Roger. Certaily the "snake fruit" is special, but that last pair, they rock.

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Terry Dactyll

Painshill... Very nice specimens and sorry i cant help with ID's but seriously, they are excellent specimens... I particularily like the fossil garlic... wow :D

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Absolutely Amazing! Thanks for posting! :D:D

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  • 1 year later...

Just information,

Borneo is the alternative name of the name of Kalimantan, an island in Indonesia.

And many more fossils in Indonesia such as the photo above.


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Those last two really do look like orchid pseudobulbs! Similar to Cymbidiums. Very very cool!!! I don't think there are too many orchid fossils out there. I used to really be into orchids; they are an amazing family of plants; the largest of the flowering plants. There are more species of orchids than of grasses.... Here's an article on Orchid evolution:

"Reassessing the temporal evolution of orchids with new fossils and a Bayesian relaxed clock, with implications for the diversification of the rare South American genus Hoffmannseggella (Orchidaceae: Epidendroideae)"


Thanks for sharing!

Edited by glacialerratic
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Thanks Hengky

These came from the Malaysian part of the island, not far from Kota Kinabalu.

And thanks for the link "glacialerratic".

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Hi Roger, Got nothing to offer, but just wanted to acknowledge how cool these are--even if I'm a year and half late in saying so! Quite the finds! Regards, Chris

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