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Tree for Thought

Researchers at the University of Madeira (UMa), have discovered through the study of fossils that an extinct species of the tea family (Theaceae) grew in Madeira 1.3 million years ago.  However, the tree Eurya stigmosa would have been on the decline, along with several other species that now make up the Laurissilva Forest.

Although the reason for the tree’s demise is unknown, some believe that climatic change brought about its extinction while others think that the tree existed on the island, if somewhat tenuously, until the islands were discovered in 1419.  The reason for this would have been that the islands isolated, and fragile ecosystem would have been spared considerable herbivore damage and destructive human activity until then.

The university’s findings have been published in the scientific journal ‘Quaternary Science Review.’


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