Paleobotany and Palynology


Provide basic training with a view to characterizing the general aspects of plant evolution throughout Earth''''s history and its importance for stratigraphy and for the reconstitution and knowledge of past environments and climates.

They also include the characterization of objects of study in palynology (dinoflagellate cysts, spores, pollens) and aspects related to the applied use of these groups of fossils in chronostratigraphy and in the reconstitution of past environments and climates are developed.

Develop knowledge on Portuguese Paleobotany and Palynology, considering the most representative stratigraphic intervals;

Highlight the scientific, didactic and historical importance of fossils of plant macro-remnants and palynomorphs.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ligia Nunes de Sousa Pereira de Castro


Weekly - 3

Total - 51

Teaching language



Not available.


Davis, P. & Kendrick, P. (2004). Fossil plants (living past). The Natural History Museum, 192p.

Jansonius, J. & Mcgregor, D.C. (1996). Palynology: principles and applications. Vol. 1 - Principles. A.A.S.P. Foundation: 462p.

Meyen, S. (1987). Fundamentals of palaeobotany. Chapman & Hall, London, 432p.

Simpson, M. (2006). Plant systematics. Elsevier Academic Press, 590p.

Sousa, L.; Rivas-Carballo, M.R. & Pais, J. (1999). Dinoflagelados. Nomenclatura portuguesa. Ciências da Terra, 13: 35-57.

Taylor, T. N., Taylor, E. & Krings, M.(2009). Paleobotany. The biology and evolution of fossil plants. Second Edition. Elsevier, 1230 p.

Teixeira, C. & Pais, J. (1976). Introdução à paleobotânica. As grandes fases da evolução dos vegetais. Ed. autores, Lisboa, 210 p.

Traverse, A. (1988). Paleopalynology. Unwin Hyman, 600 p.

Teaching method

The teaching, supported in the use of multimedia projections, will include theoretical and practical classes.

In practical classes students will learn the laboratory procedure with the treatment of samples for research of dinoflagellate cysts, spores and pollens, obtaining palynological residues, preparation of thin slides and observation under an optical microscope for palynological analysis; palynofacies, identification of some forms.

Observation of collections of plant macro-remnants representing the evolution of vegetation over time.

The assessment will have a continuous component, through the completion of a written report, presented in PPT, followed by discussion.

Evaluation method

The assessment consists of 2 fundamental elements: practical periodic assessment (weekly report on the study group) and systematic final work:

• The periodic practical assessment consists of a portfolio with systematic records of one of the specimens studied in each class (at your choice), which includes systematic framing, morphological description, taphonomy, stratigraphic and geographic distributions and paleoecology. They will be quoted from 5 values of the final grade.

Presentation of a report (PPT) on 6 January. It will be quoted from 0 to 10 values (PPT) and 5 values (orality).
The final grade of the UC is obtained through the sum of the partial results of the evaluations, making rounding only in the final grade. It will be approved with a minimum classification of 9,5 values.

Subject matter


1. Introduction. General aspects of Paleobotany and Palynology. Historical aspects. Systematics, taxonomy and nomenclature. Methods and techniques of study in Paleobotany and Palynology.

2. Overview of the morphology of plants. Morphology of leaves, stems, spores and pollen. Dinoflagellates.

3. Fossilization of the plants.

4. Methods of collection, preparation and study. Construction of pollen diagrams and their interpretation. Palynofacies.

5. Overview of paleoecology. Dinoflagellates and plant fossils as environmental and climate indicators. Climatic curves.

6. Classification of palynomorphs and plants.

7. Evolution of palynomorphs and plants over time with special emphasis on Portuguese fossils. Origin of terrestrial vegetation. General aspects of the plants of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. Origin and expansion of angiosperms. The vegetation of the Cenozoic. Progressive degradation of vegetation in Europe during the Quaternary. Establishment of the Mediterranean vegetation.



Note macroremains plant collections representing the evolution of vegetation over time. Learning techniques and methods for studying palynomorphs: laboratory preparation (mechanical disaggregation of samples, elimination of the mineral fraction through chemical treatments, cleaning and concentration of palynomorphs, assembly of slides).


Programs where the course is taught: