Scientists Rediscover Wildflower Assumed to be Extinct For 40 years

A South American wildflower that was assumed to be extinct for nearly 40 years was rediscovered in Western Ecuador by biologists.

A group of biologists rediscovered Gasteranthus extinctus which was first seen in 1985 on the slopes of the Andes mountains and in residual pockets of woodland in Ecuador’s Centinela region.

During the late twentieth century, extensive deforestation in western Ecuador resulted in the assumed extinction of a number of plant species which included the Gasteranthus extinctus.

Despite previous reports that more than 97% of Ecuadorian forests have been burned or turned into farmland, the researchers began their hunt last summer and sought through satellite pictures for intact primary rainforests.

The biologists recognized the plant within the first few hours of searching through photos of dried herbarium specimens, line drawings, and a written description for reference.

The team of biologists chose to collaborate with Ecuadorian conservationists to save some of the surviving Centinelan flower remnants.

Dawson White, a postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago said in a published paper, “Rediscovering this flower shows that it’s not too late to turn around even the worst-case biodiversity scenarios, and it shows that there’s value in conserving even the smallest, most degraded areas.”

Gasteranthus extinctus will preserve its name.


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