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Aussies Find ‘Living fossil’ Trees

December 15, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Botanists have found a stand of ``living fossil″ trees from a species dating back to prehistoric times in the dense rainforests north of Sydney, authorities said Friday.

About 20 mature trees found in the Nightcap Range about 400 miles north of Sydney bear nuts similar in structure to those discovered in fossilized form in 1875 by botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller.

``It gives us another small paragraph or a page of the insight into the evolution of flowering plants and the incredible changes that have occurred on this continent through enormous periods of time,″ said botanist Peter Kooyman, who discovered the trees in August.

The exact location is being kept secret to protect the trees, state environment minister Bob Debus said.

Kooyman sent details of his find to Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, which identified the trees as belonging to the Eidothea genus.

``Eidothea were living fossils of the rainforests which once covered the ancient super-continent of Gondwanaland _ now Australia, Africa, South America and New Zealand,″ Debus said.

The biggest of the newly discovered trees is at least 120 feet tall and has ``beautiful, primitive and messy″ flowers with a scent similar to aniseed, Kooyman said.

A similar discovery was made in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in 1994, when botanists discovered a stand of living fossil trees known as the Wollemi Pines.

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