Living Fossils - Metasequoia
Metasequoia, or, more commonly, the dawn red wood, and more specifically M. glyptostroboides is one of three species of that we call redwoods, the other two being Sequoia sempervirens (Coast Redwood) and Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Sequoia). They are all members of Sequoioideae, which is a subfamily within Cupressacae, which are, more or less, the Cyprus family. Metasequoia are deciduous trees, but are still, coniferous. There is one extant species of Metasequioa, and three recognized fossil species, all found in the northern hemisphere, and the living species being native to China. The fossils in question are all found around the 80N latitude line, which would have been tropical or sub-tropical at the time (Paleocene and Eocene), and it is thought that it was already deciduous at this time, and therefore that being deciduous developed not because of seasonal variance in temperature, but instead because of light variance. It was thought to be extinct, before the discovery of an extant specimen in a shrine in China. It has recently become a popular ornamental plant.
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