By Joe Stenson
SCOTS scientists have discovered a new species of monkey puzzle tree that had been “hiding” under their noses for almost two decades. Researchers from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) have spent the past 17 years studying monkey puzzle trees on New Caledonia, an island in the South Pacific. To their amazement, the team recently realised that the trees included a previously unknown species – the first to be discovered for 47 years.
The tree – which has yet to be officially named – had been “hiding in plain sight” according to the title of the academic paper which revealed the discovery.Spotting the new monkey puzzle came just in time for the species as the area was about to be cleared for a new nickel mine. The species is around 200 million years old, dating it back to the time of the dinosaurs. Researchers simply noticed a group of trees which “looked a bit different” to others on the island.