Dawn redwoods in a lake at Zimaling Park, Zhongshan, China
© Yaorusheng/Getty Image
Giants rescued from extinction. The story of a rediscovered redwood
Like most things in nature, the trees featured on today’s homepage are worth a closer look. This species, known as the dawn redwood, was thought for hundreds of years to be extinct. Unlike other redwood trees (picture the towering evergreen giants that grow on California’s coast), this redwood is deciduous; in the fall its needles turn a brilliant orange, and then fall to the ground. Fossils of the species are common in the Northern Hemisphere, but there was no known evidence that it existed after the Miocene Epoch, which ended more than 5 million years ago. The tree was thought to have been long extinct until 1944, when a giant dawn redwood was discovered in south central China. More were found in surrounding lowlands, and today the tree is a popular ornamental in many parts of the world. The trees in our image, from Zhongshan, China, are standing in a shallow lake, which reflects the blue sky above.