Ginkgo biloba                                                                                      Fossile viventes

Ginkgo isn’t an old species, it’s an ancient species of tree. The origin of this broad-leafed pine relative dates back to 270 mya. It is no surprise us then that all members of this family were assumed extinct by early scientist. There was no paleontological evidence of any other species surviving the K-T extinction event (65.5 mya), so any fossils from before that period were assumed to be another addition to the history book. It wasn’t until around 1700 that western scientists discovered existing species in China. One to be exact: Ginkgo biloba. It was discovered on a Buddhist monastery where the monks cultivated it and preserved it on their sacred grounds. This cultivation in combination with ginkgo’s high adaptability and resistance to disease are the main explanations for this genus’ longevity. It has survived a massive extinction event and several ice ages. There is even a Ginkgo tree which survived the Hiroshima bombing only a half mile from the blast site (pictured above). The lesson given to us by this ancient species is, of course, adaptability.

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