This fiery orange wildflower was thought to be extinct. After 36 years, scientists have found it again.

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In 2000, scientists working in the Andean foothills in Ecuador attempted, and failed, to locate a small bright orange wildflower found 15 years earlier. They called him G Extinct To commemorate the flower, though, they believe it became extinct after the destruction of its “cloud forest” habitat.

But 22 years later, a team of scientists rediscovered Venus. They published their findings in the journal Vito Kies Friday.

matt It gets its striking name in light of widespread deforestation in western Ecuador, said Dawson White, a postdoctoral researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum and co-lead author of the paper, in press release. “But if you claim something is gone, no one is really going out and looking for it anymore. There are still a lot of important species that still exist, even though we are generally in this era of extinction.”

Part of the team leaves the field for a day with bags full of rare plant specimens, surrounded by typical Centinelan views of tall trees and remnants scattered across pastures and farmland.

Dawson White

The press release stated that more than 97% of the forests in the western half of Ecuador have been cut down and are now farmland, and all that remains of the forests are “islands” of trees. The area is “a legendary place for tropical botanists,” said Nigel Pittman, the Field Museum’s chief conservation ecologist and co-author.

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Long believed to be extinct, Gasteranthus extinctus was found growing next to a waterfall in Bosque y Cascada Las Rocas, a private reserve in the coast of Ecuador that contains a large number of endangered plants.

Riley Fortier

The team of scientists launched their expedition to find Venus in 2021, and they began looking at satellite images of small forest pockets to determine places to visit.

“It was the first time I was planning an expedition that we weren’t sure we even got into the woods,” Pittman said. “But as soon as we got to the ground we found the remains of an intact cloud forest, and we spotted them G Extinct On the first day, during the first two hours of research. We didn’t have a picture to compare it to… but we were pretty sure we’d found it.”

Surprisingly, the team was not the first to see the flower. in 2019three users of the Ecuadorean biology website iNaturalist Ec Post pictures of G Extinct without realizing it.

Now, the team is working with Ecuadorean environmentalists to protect forests and G Extinct.

“The rediscovery of this flower shows that it’s not too late to get around even the worst biodiversity scenarios, and shows that there is value in preserving even the smallest and most degraded areas,” White said.

“We entered [the forest] “I thought it would break our hearts, and instead we ended up falling in love,” Bateman added.

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