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Re: Wollemi, Attenborough, and Branagh
On 5/11/05, Renato Santos <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I find it particularly funny that the botanists compare the find of Wollemia
> nobilis to paleontologists finding a small dinosaur in the wild :-D Guess
> what? They were right under our noses the whole time ;-)
> Now a question comes into my mind. Is this much ado about nothing? I see the
> fossil record for these creatures (yes, the pines) being touted as either
> ending 2 Ma ago or 90 Ma (I guess this last one must be a misprint). Is
> there in fact a fossil record for Wollemia nobilis or are we talking of
> Araucariaceae in general? I agree it's a wonderfull find, a living one at
> that, but I'd like to have a bit of perspective thrown in to this "frenzy"
> (if asking for that isn't too off topic).
>From what I can glean, the *first* fossil record of the _Wollemia
nobilis_ stem-lineage is dated at 90Ma, and the split from other
extant _Araucariaceae_ would have been about 200Ma.
One interesting thing about them is that there has not been any
genetic variation detected between specimens. It seems that each one
is a virtual clone of each other one, despite the fact that they
reproduce sexually. This lack of genetic diversity might indicate that
it is a true "living fossil", with modern representatives being
virtual clones of more ancient representatives (how ancient, I don't
That's what I got from reading half a dozen websites today, anyway.
Corrections are welcome.