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Extinct Tree Rediscovered After 2 Centuries in ‘Incredible’ Discovery

Extinct Tree Rediscovered After 2 Centuries: In a remarkable find, a tree previously believed to be extinct has been rediscovered in Brazil, leaving scientists and conservationists astounded.

According to reports from The Brussels Times, researchers stumbled upon the tree, which had not been sighted for nearly 200 years, in an urban area in Igarassu, northeastern Brazil.

Known as the Ilex sapiiformis or Pernambuco holly, this tree was initially documented in 1838, and until recently, there had been no confirmed sightings. However, a team of scientists, supported by the conservation group Re: wild, embarked on a six-day expedition and managed to locate the species once again.

scientists-rediscover-Extinct Tree Rediscovered After 2 Centuries
Image of a branch of a tree that was believed to be extinct
Credit: © Fred JORDAO / Wild Project/AFP

“The Pernambuco Holly is among our top 25 most sought-after lost species. It is the 9th species we have rediscovered since launching our Search for Lost Species initiative in 2017,” announced the conservation group on Instagram.

The scientists were thrilled to spot a total of four Ilex piriformis trees flourishing along the riverbanks in the area. Guided by the trail of white flowers characteristic of this particular species, they were able to make this extraordinary discovery.

“It felt as if time had stood still. Nature never fails to surprise us. Encountering a species that has remained hidden for nearly two centuries is a rare occurrence. It was an awe-inspiring moment,” remarked Juliana Alencar, a member of the project team.

The find was not only surprising due to the tree’s rarity but also because of its location within an urban environment.

Christina Biggs, Re: wild’s lost species program officer, expressed her astonishment, stating that uncovering the tree in such surroundings was truly remarkable.

Extinct Tree Rediscovered After 2 Centuries
Scientists in Brazil have just rediscovered a tree previously thought extinct.
CORRADOBARATTAPHOTOS/GETTY

Biggs further emphasized the vital role that trees, like animals, play in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. Therefore, this discovery is a significant breakthrough. “This tree serves as a compelling reminder of why we must persist in our search,” she added.

Describing the area where the tree was found, Re: wild highlighted the transformation it has undergone: “Once covered in dense Atlantic tropical forest, it has now been largely replaced by urban spaces interspersed with sugarcane plantations. By the 1980s, less than 5% of the southeastern Atlantic Forest remained intact, and what remains is highly fragmented.”

The next step for scientists is to establish a breeding program for the Pernambuco Holly, which will facilitate its propagation and expansion, as reported by The Brussels Times.

“The quest for more Pernambuco Holly trees is far from over! The team aims to collaborate with local partners to conduct further searches and locate additional individuals of this species. Our goal is to work together to safeguard the forests where the Pernambuco Holly was found and establish a captive breeding program,” stated Re: wild.

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