In a world where we often think we know all there is to know, it’s nice to be surprised from time to time with a nudge from the past. Such a piece of living history was uncovered a few years ago in an Australian rainforest, where a hiking botanist found an unusual looking tree. The sample he collected was later identified as belonging to a plant previously thought to have been extinct for two million years, the Wollemi Pine.
The Wollemi Pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants and fewer than 100 adult trees are known to exist in the wild.
The oldest known Wollemi Pine fossil dates back 90 million years and it is believed that the Pines may have existed since the Jurassic period 200 million years ago. Following its rediscovery the Pine has become part of a conservation effort to save the species and re-establish it throughout the country, with people able to purchase potted pines and grow them in their own homes.
Stories like this serve as a reminder that humans are but a tiny dot on the whole timescale of global evolution. In a world that grows increasingly cynical and bitter by the day, it is important to reflect on these little events and never forget the world can be an amazing and inspiring place. Imagine what else is out there just waiting to be discovered.