Cycad species of today ‘are not living fossils’

2011-10-21 07:28

Sydney – In a garden centre near you are palm-like plants called cycads that we have been told were around when dinosaurs roamed the earth 200 million years ago.

It turns out they were not, botanist Nathalie Nagalingum has said. “Every cycad species is under 10 million years old – and some are considerably younger,” she said of research published yesterday in Science magazine.

The discovery will require the revision of textbooks that refer to cycads as living fossils, and the removal of signage in botanical gardens that trumpet them as dinosaur fodder.

Nagalingum, a researcher at Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens, studied the characteristics of different cycads from around the world at a molecular level, and assessed how much they varied.

From the breadth of the diversity, the team calculated that the cycads around today all stem from a diversification that started only 10 million years ago, 55 million years after the last dinosaur died.

“There were cycads in dinosaur times, but they were all made extinct and what we have today is a whole new suite of cycad species.”

“It does mean we have to change a lot of things,” she said. – Sapa-dpa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.