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How wide will the tree grow? Is the tree deciduous or evergreen? Will it lose its leaves in the winter?
Form or shape. A columnar tree will grow in less space. Round and V-Shaped species provide the most shade.
How long will it take for your tree to reach its full height? Nielsen decided to take a morphological approach to the question. He then took two possible evolutionary scenarios — one in which poriferans branched off first, and the other in which ctenophores did — and elucidated which traits the relevant groups would have gained and lost on each path.
The Right Tree in the Right Place
The two tell two very different stories. So the poriferans-first scenario involves a gradual increase in complexity, as later groups gain things like digestive and nervous systems. By contrast, comb jellies already have nervous systems, and can eat krill, amphipods and even each other.
If the ctenophores evolved first, that would mean the sponges gave those things up.
Many disagree. Joseph Ryan of the University of Florida, who thinks ctenophores came first, argued that evolutionary trees based on even the most careful morphological studies are often less rigorous and objective than ones based on genetic data, and that the scenarios that seem impossible to Dr.
Nielsen are as feasible as those presented in his study. The answer lies in changing climates and shifting continents.
The region that is now cold, dry Patagonia was then a cool, wet rainforest. This climate is similar to the present-day mountains of Borneo and New Guinea, the closest places to Laguna del Hunco where Castanopsis grows today, and which are 8, miles from site. The hope, of course, is that the story does not end with their imminent extinction.
As human activities such as deforestation continue apace, Castanopsis is now under threat, Wilf notes.
But these kinds of discoveries can raise public awareness and inspire conservation efforts, adds Wilf, who has been digging at Laguna del Hunco for 20 years and plans to keep working there. New fossils suggest the chinquapin, found today in parts of Asia, first took root in the Southern Hemisphere.