Gondwanan Plant Dispersal

This is pretty cool. Science Daily reports on a recent molecular dating study that looked at the evolutionary history of the plant family Proteaceae. From Science Daily:

“Our results show that ancestors of some of the modern Proteaceae must have crossed the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Thus, in Africa, for example, the spectacular genus Protea is truly Gondwanan, but 250 species from other genera that occur in the ‘fynbos’ vegetation (literally, ‘fine leaved shrubs’) of the highly diverse south-western Cape biodiversity hotspot are much younger, and have Australian relatives” says Nigel Barker of Rhodes University, South Africa.
This new finding is important, as it challenges the dogma that gondwanaland’s biota merely moved in situ with the continents as they broke up. “We have to reconsider the possibility of transoceanic dispersal, as unlikely as it sounds for these plants” says Peter Weston, a researcher at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia.

What caught my attention, however, was this:

Ornithologists will be intrigued to find that the age of the Embothriinae, a bird-pollinated group of Proteaceae in Australia, coincides with the estimated age of the Honey-eaters, Australian nectar-feeding birds.

2 Responses

  1. Reunite Gondwanaland!
    –as seen as a hand-lettered sign on a faculty office door in Yale’s Geo Dept. about 1976. I need the T-shirt.

  2. It is conjectured that monkeys developed red vision (with green-yellow and purple/blue already there) in conjunction with mangos, papayas and other large orange/reddish fruits that are up in the trees and seadified by scat.
    Even more fun, only the female New World monkeys have the red pigment. This gives them a big advantage over the males in finding said fruits.

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