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Old world tree has roots in new.

Researchers recently confirmed that members of the tree family Dipterocarpaceae, common in Africa and Asia, grow in South America as well--a finding they liken to discovering, say, kangaroos in South America.

Scientists found the tree in southern Colombia in 1988 but identified it only this summer, says Enrique Forero of the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in New York City. It is a new genus and species, Pseudomonotes tropenbosii, and it grows abundantly in a small, isolated area of the Amazon River rain forest. Forero and his colleagues identified the tree primarily by the five unusually long, winglike sepals surrounding the fruit.

The discovery suggests that dipterocarps have existed for much longer than previously thought--even before the split of ancient landmasses over 80 million years ago, when South America and Africa began to drift apart, the group asserts.

In 1977, other researchers found a dipterocarp, which they named Pakaraimaea dipterocarpacea, in Guyana. But until the Colombian finding, some scientists had doubted whether the tree really ranked as a dipterocarp, says Forero.
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Title Annotation:trees belonging to the dipterocarpaceae family were found in South America; they are commonly found in Africa and Asia
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 26, 1995
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