Paleolake Hadar was an expansive lake in the lower Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression that existed periodically through the Late Pliocene. The sedimentary deposits from this ancient lake (Hadar Formation) have broad importance because a significant number of hominin fossils have been recovered from the formation. Samples of the Hadar Formation lacustrine sequence were collected from sediment cores extracted as part of the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP). A paleoecological study of the HSPDP Northern Awash (Hadar Formation) material has unearthed three novel species of Bacillariophyta (diatoms) from diatomites that appear periodically in the cores. The Hadar Formation assemblage represents a newly revealed excerpt from the evolutionary history of freshwater diatoms in East Africa during the Piacenᴢian age (2.59-3.60 Ma). The HSPDP Northern Awash diatom species are compared to previously reported diatoms from Pliocene outcrops, modern and fossil core material from Lake Malawi, and extant species. Here we describe two new species of Aulacoseira and one of Lindavia. Taxonomic treatment of two diatom varieties reported by previous researchers as Melosira are transferred into Aulacoseira herein.
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The authors extend gratitude to the entire HSPDP team and particularly the Northern Awash drilling and core description teams. Dr. Mark Edlund and Dr. David Jewson provided their advice throughout this investigation. We thank Sabrina Brown and Erika Smith for sample preparation and Dr. Andrew Cohen and Laserchron at the University of Arizona for procuring time on the SEM. This is publication number 7 of the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project. This research was funded by grants from the NSFC National Science Foundation (EAR1123942, BCS1241859, and EAR1338553), the International Continental Drilling Program, and the Indiana State University Center for Student Research and Creativity. We thank the US National Lacustrine Core Facility (LacCore) for sampling and core handling assistance. Thanks are also extended to the reviewers and editorial staff at Phytotaxa
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