Authors: Barbara Meller, Reinhard Zetter, Andreas Hassler, Johannes M. Bouchal , Christa-Charlotte Hofmann, Friðgeir Grímsson

A new locality, at Schaßbach (Carinthia, Austria), within the Neogene Lavanttal Basin has yielded numerous well preserved early Badenian (Langhian) plant macrofossils. This paper, which is the first in a series of papers that describe the macrofossil remains from Schaßbach, provides a geological and chronostratigraphic framework of the study area and summarizes previous research on plant macrofossils from the Lavanttal Basin. Here, Cenozoic leaf fossils of Ginkgo with preserved cuticles showing epidermal features are described for the first time from Austria, and from the pre-Pliocene of the Central Paratethys region. The Ginkgo foliage remains are currently one of the oldest Cenozoic fossils representing this genus in Central Europe. The fossils are considered to reflect trees growing outside lowland wetland areas and originated from the riparian vegetation. Based on the current habitat and fossil occurrence of Cenozoic ginkgos, the early Badenian flora in the Lavanttal area likely endured a warm temperate and humid climate.

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