Thismia Kobensis: Extinct Before Discovery


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 18 September 2018

ANTHROPOCENE

Extinct Before Discovery

New plant species discovered in museum is probably extinct,
Kobe University September 12, 2018.

 

Thismia Kobensis
 Kobe U.
Thismia Kobensis when it was discovered in 1992. Credit: Kobe U

MAIN POINTS

Here
"A single non-photosynthetic plant specimen preserved in a Japanese natural history museum has been identified as a new species. However, it is highly possible that this species is already extinct."

Gone
“This plant was discovered in Kobe, Japan, in 1992, and preserved with its identity unknown. No new specimens were found in follow-up surveys between 1993 and 1999, and the plant’s original habitat was destroyed by land development in 1999.”

“The specimen in this study was originally found in 1992 in the Nishi district of Kobe...”

What?
“...non-photosynthetic plants called mycoheterotrophs. These plants do not photosynthesize, instead leading a parasitic existence drawing nutrients from fungi and tree roots. Many species only appear above ground during brief fruiting and flowering periods, making them very hard to find and identify.”

Gone but Looking
“Thismia kobensis was discovered in 1992 as a single specimen, with no further samples of the same species found. In 2010 it was reported as extinct by Hyogo prefecture. “Because it has now been recognized as a new species, we are hopeful that living specimens of T. kobensis can be discovered in other places.”

Environmental Sacrifices
“Mycoheterotrophic plants are parasites - in order to survive they need a stable ecosystem with abundant resources, and they are very sensitive to environmental changes. Therefore, a large number of mycoheterotrophs are now in danger of extinction, and this study strongly suggests that some mycoheterotrophic species may be dying out before they are recognized.”

 

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