From the fossil record, we know that pines were the first trees on Earth and that they’re much older than deciduous trees that drop their leaves every year. The Wollemi pine has been on Earth for so long?around 250 million years?that it has been called the “pinosaur.” Like many old species, it lives in Australia, where the location of the current stand of Wollemis is kept secret. There are fewer than 100 left?how can we make sure they don’t become extinct?

Valerie Jamieson writes in the Oct. 22-28 print edition of New Scientist that one of the secrets of the pinosaur is that it grows VERY slowly. The scrubby specimens that are alive today are thought to be a thousand years old and they’re still young, according to Wollemi standards. Wollemis have long been known from fossil records, but the fact that these fossils are still alive was only discovered about 10 years ago. There are around 100 of them living in the wild.

California also has a pinosaur called the Bristlecone pine. The location of the oldestBristlecone is also kept secret. The US plans to clone its Bristlecones, instead of Australia’s simpler solution of encouraging home gardeners to plant cuttings from them in their yards.

One obstacle to this is that the trees aren’t very attractive, so gardeners have to be convinced to plant them with the idea of saving an ancient plant that would otherwise go extinct.

Crop circles are something else that has been around for many years?but they’re still ignored by most of the US media. But whatever they are, or whoever makes them, those of us who love these magical designs look forward to the new crop circle calendar every year. And while supplies last (which won’t be long), you get a free 2005 calendar with every 2006 crop circle calendar you order. Get crop circle postcards too?they’re a great way to send notes to friends.

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