New Caledonia - part of the submerged seventh continent
New Caledonia broke away from the ancient supercontinent - Gondwana. Its geography is no less unique than its nature.
The fact is that New Caledonia is the northern part of the Zeeland continent. This continent is now 93% flooded with water. Zeeland was once part of Antarctica, but split off more than 85 million years ago.
The main mainland islands of flooded Zealand are New Caledonia in the north and New Zealand in the center. New Zealand, in fact, is the mountainous promontory of this continent.
Whether Zeeland can ever surface again depends on the climate. In the near future, definitely not, because due to the rise in temperature on Earth, the water is only getting more. Perhaps in the future, when the warming changes to a cold snap (and these climatic periods regularly change in the history of the planet) Zeeland will again become land-based.
The unique nature of the lost world
No one has touched nature here since the time of the dinosaurs, so we can look at the flora as it was tens of millions of years ago in almost its original form. On the continents, the flora of that period died out, giving way to more efficient and aggressive plant species. And here it is perfectly preserved.
70% of the plants are unique to New Caledonia and are not found anywhere else.
New Caledonia is slightly larger in area than the Kaliningrad region. And half the size of the Moscow region. Moreover, the island is home to four and a half thousand plant species.
The main asset of the local flora is araucaria. These are conifers that grow up to 90 meters in height. Their characteristic feature is flat needles. These are pines.
Araucaria are an ancient family of conifers dating back to the origins of the Jurassic period.
In the days of the dinosaurs, the araucaria dominated the flora. These were the first trees in the history of the planet to climb the 60-meter high-rise.
It is the araucaria that is the reason why Brachiosaurus was such a giant. To reach the nutritious needles!
In the future, araucaria yielded in competition to more advanced tree species.
They are found in Australia and Chile, but in New Caledonia their concentration is high and the island is characterized by several unique species. Of these, 19 species remain in the world, 18 of which grow in New Caledonia.
Conifers easily inhabit even the most difficult landscapes here. Such places are popular with tourists, when overgrown lonely stones and peaks stick out in the middle of the ocean.
Another unique plant that grows in New Caledonia is Parasitaxus ustus. It is the only coniferous parasite in the world.
It is a small - up to 25 cm high - highly branching coniferous plant. It parasitizes local coniferous bushes. Quite a beautiful plant with a bright color of the stem and leaves.
It has no roots and does not photosynthesize (hence its "alien" purple-black coloration).
The world's oldest flowers
Amborella is a unique flower. It gives scientists an insight into the world's first flowers.
The first ancestor of flowers appeared in the early Jurassic period - 174 million years ago. Amborella appeared soon (by the standards of evolution) after that - 130 million years ago.
The most gigantic fern in the world
As you probably remember from the school course in biology, in the days of dinosaurs, ferns were very common in addition to conifers. In our forests, they now occupy a modest niche.
Sphaeropteris intermedia is the largest fern in the world. It has a tree trunk that grows up to 30 meters. Outwardly, it can be mistaken for a palm tree.
The fauna of New Caledonia is also unique and ancient. But, alas, the giant dinosaurs did not live to see us. Too small area for large fauna.
However, there are interesting characters here as well. For example, the New Caledonian crow is one of the smartest birds in the world.
Local ravens make rather sophisticated tools from ferns, feathers, grass and twigs. They use these tools to get insects hidden in the bark of trees. The ravens trim the implements neatly to the correct size.
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