Scientists have identified a new species from an ancient cave in northern Australia, and say it is one of the first examples of a plant growing on a desert island.
The new species, the first plant of its kind found in a modern environment, was discovered in a cave in the Kimberley Desert, researchers said in a study published in the journal PLoS ONE.
It’s a new way to study plants, said University of Tasmania ecologist Dr. Steve Foulkes, a co-author of the study.
The cave is called The Bowery Cave and is part of a massive limestone cave system dating back nearly 500,000 years.
Foulkes said the plant is named Lillium, after a fictional character in a popular book by the same name.
“Lillium has the distinctive ‘bowery’ shape, with rounded corners, and a long stem with rounded edges,” Foulke told NBC News.
A typical Lillia bush (Lillinia californica) plant, a member of the genus Lillinia, grows in the desert of northern Australia.
Its growth was once so successful that it created the perfect habitat for a plant that thrived on desert plants.
Lillia is native to Australia and is considered to be the most ancient plant on Earth.
Unlike the most common plant species, which are native to the tropical or subtropical regions, Lillias range from temperate forests in Australia to desert areas in South America.
They’re considered to have an extreme drought tolerance that can last decades, but that has also made them resistant to disease and pests, according to the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service.
Scientists are trying to figure out how Lilliades were able to survive in this harsh climate.
We were looking for a place to find an organism that’s adapted to a very dry climate, Foulis said.
But Lillies are so long-lived that they’re one of just a few plant species to live for hundreds or even thousands of years, Fotos said.
Lillis were discovered by scientists in 2009 in a nearby cave.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University at Adelaide in South Australia found the plant in 2009, after it was buried underground.
For more than 40 years, researchers have been searching for fossils of this ancient plant in the area.
Dr. Bruce Macdonald, a research ecologist with the Australian Museum, said he’s not surprised the plant has survived the harsh conditions.
There are a number of animals in Australia that are found in caves, and Lilliiae are certainly one of those species, Macdonald said.
“They’re a very good arthropod that can withstand a lot of different environmental conditions,” he said.
“They’ve adapted very well to these conditions, and are a good model organism for studying climate change.”
The plant was initially thought to be extinct, but it was found by a scientist in 2010 and is now on display at the Australian National University.
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