How did the Wollemi Pine survive 200 million years of change?
All the species from two hundred million years ago no longer exist today. They have either:
- Evolved: over time, changing environments prompted adaptations in a plant or animal that allowed them to survive. These changes would slowly add up, and new species would form to survive new environments.
- Gone extinct: animals or plants that did not develop positive adaptations to the changing world would not survive through time.
How the Wollemi survived!
Less than 100 Wollemi Pine trees were secluded deep inside their secret sandstone canyon, in a ferny warm temperate rainforest environment. This special place provided all the right conditions for the trees to survive for millenia. Since the first discovery, two more small groves have been discovered nearby. Wollemi Pines were once widespread across Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent that existed before Australia broke off from Antarctica and began its movement north. Australia’s climate changed, slowly becoming warmer and drier, eventually reducing their habitat down to just one canyon in the Wollemi wilderness.
Wollemi Pines have an amazing survival adaptation that allows them to sprout multiple trunks from one large root system, called coppicing. At the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, scientists are studying this ancient plant to ensure its survival. Soon after discovery, a plan was made to increase the number of trees of this rare species by propagating many plants so that people could buy them from the nursery and have their very own Dinosaur Tree growing in their backyard!