Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Jurassic Garden

We've known the thylacine to be extinct since the thirties, yet it might still be around. We thought the ivory-billed woodpecker was extinct for the bulk of the twentieth century, but now we know it's been hiding out in Arkansas. But that's nothing compared to life that's been extinct since the Mesozoic. Still, the Wollemi pine, thought to have died out 200 million years ago, has recently been discovered in Australia.

Planting the rare tree Sir David [Attenborough, wildlife expert,] said: "How marvellous and exciting that we should have discovered this rare survivor from such an ancient past.

"It is romantic, I think, that something has survived 200 million years unchanged.

"There are other plants that come from that period; but to suddenly find not just a new species but a new genus, too, is really quite exciting."

On the same day Actor Kenneth Branagh was to plant a Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) at Wakehurst Place, Kew's country garden in Sussex, where seeds are already preserved in the Millennium Seed Bank.

A tall conifer, it is closely related to the monkey puzzle tree, and has an unusual pattern of branching, with the mature foliage having two ranks of leaves along the branches.

Link. This sort of reminds me of going to Yosemite and seeing those tree cross sections with the really old historic events marked in the rings. Only, you know, way older.

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