Patagonian Plant Fossils

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Patagonian plant fossils reveal ancient biodiversity, as reported in Science, vol. 300, p122, 4 April, 2003. The rich biodiversity of tropical South American rainforests is believed to be a recent occurrence in evolutionary terms. A team of scientists led by Peter Wilf, Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, has unearthed evidence of "extraordinary plant diversity" in rocks from Laguna del Hunco in Northwestern Chubut Province, Patagonia, Argentina. At 47 degrees South, it is a long way from the tropics. The fossils are believed to be 52 million years old. Having found 102 leaf species including dicots, monocots, ginkophytes, cycads and ferns, the team concluded "warm, equitable climates reached middle latitudes of both hemispheres. Adjusted for sample size, the observed richness exceeds that of any other Eocene leaf flora, supporting an ancient history of plant diversity in warm areas of South America."

Editorial Comment: These fossils fit the Biblical history of the world very well. In the beginning there was a world-wide mild climate and the earth was watered by a mist. This is an ideal environment for lush plant growth. Following Noah's flood, the climate became much harsher with extremes of seasons at higher latitudes, resulting in less abundant plant growth. As for biodiversity, it has been decreasing all this time, i.e. many plants have become extinct, but no new ones have been observed to appear. (Ref. biodiversity, fossil, botany)

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