Have you ever wanted to look into the ancient past?
Imagine walking through ancient rainforest and stepping back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
The good news is, that these forests still exist. However, they are under threat.
Many of you have probably heard of the Wollemi Pine.
One day in 1994 it was stumbled upon in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, by David Noble, a National Parks officer. It was like no other tree he had seen before and was later found to be one of the oldest and rarest trees left in existence.
Australia’s environment has often been noted as unique, due to its isolation after it broke away from the supercontinent Gondwana and Antarctica about 45 million years ago.
Can you think of any strange animals that are unique to Australia?
Maybe you thought of the platypus or the kangaroo. The platypus was thought to be a hoax when sent back to England.
The same uniqueness occurs for plants and trees, one example being the Wollemi pine.
But how do we determine how old these species are?
A recent study in tropical North-east Queensland has been used to determine the age and pureness of trees.
Pureness in this context means that the tree species has not had any outside influence from other tree species for many millions of years.
Some forests in northern Australia are not as pure and old as they have had influences from plant species in South East Asia in the past few million years.
Now earlier we mentioned strange and unique plants in Australia. One area of study was the Daintree Rainforest, which is thought to be at least 135 million years old.
This rainforest is home to many old and rare plants and trees.
One such plant, the Idiot Fruit, was thought to be extinct until it was found in 1971.
The Idiot Fruit has primitive flowers and seeds, showing its ancient heritage. These seeds can have 2 to 6 leaves when they sprout, whereas seeds today have only 2.
It has been found to be around 120 million years old, meaning that it was also alive when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
12 out of the 19 primitive flower species in the world are found in the Daintree.
Why we should care?
The Daintree Rainforest has ancient plants and trees dating back millions of years. It is home to many rare and endangered plant and animal species, found nowhere else in the world.
Although it is a World Heritage site, many of these species could be under threat due to the rising temperature from climate change.
Pollinating plant species could be wiped out and these old plant species will have no way to reproduce.
If this is allowed to happen and climate change continues, our grandchildren will never be able to see these ancient rainforests and their unique and exquisite plants.
Visit the Daintree Rainforest today to travel back in time.