The Flowering of Gondwana
The 400 Million Year Story of Australia's Plants
AUTHOR: White, Mary E.
PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press
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Illustrated with nearly four hundred magnificent photographs of fossils and living plants, this book tells the story of Australia's remarkable floral heritage, from its genesis through to its last stages of evolution, while also providing a general introduction to major patterns in the history of plant life. Over 50 million years ago when Australia broke away from the great supercontinent known as Gondwana, which comprised all the major southern landmasses, a modern aspect flora was already established and rainforests covered most of the land. The remnant rainforests of Australia are ancestors of a unique flora that evolved in isolation as the continent moved slowly northward to the position it occupies today. Here Mary White traces the evolution of plants from the earliest times when all life was confined to the water and the land was barren, and describes the emergence of the first land plants about 400 million years ago. Her portrayal of Australia's flora includes the changes that have since come with the arrival of settlers and their crops of exotic plants.
The fossil record studied in this book is a tantalizing key to visualizing the world as it once was. The plants tell us of past climates, conjure up a picture of ancient landscapes, and explain configurations of land and sea on the ever-changing surface of the earth. A single source of information on fossil floras and environments of past ages, The Flowering of Gondwana enables scientists and general readers to follow Australia's plant ancestry and to appreciate the individuality that has evolved from an inheritance in common with plants from other southern lands.
PUBLICATION DATE: 6/5/1990