Paschalococos

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Paschalococos disperta
Conservation status

Extinct  (c. 1650) (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Arecoideae
Tribe: Cocoeae
Genus: Paschalococos
Dransfield
Species: P. disperta
Binomial name
Paschalococos disperta

Paschalococos disperta (Rapa Nui palm or Easter Island palm), formerly Jubaea disperta, was the native cocoid palm species of Easter Island. It disappeared from the pollen record circa AD 1650.

It is not known whether the species is distinct from Jubaea, but there is no evidence that it was Jubaea either, as the soft tissues used for identification of cocoid genera have not been preserved. All that remain are pollen from lake beds, hollow endocarps (nuts) found in a cave, and casts of root bosses. Partly to avoid giving credence to the common but speculative assumption that the palms were Jubaea chilensis and used as rollers to move the moai statues of Easter Island, John Dransfield assigned the species to a new genus.[1]

Human overpopulation in the period AD 800 to 1600 led to extinction of the Rapa Nui Palm. Hogan believes that loss of the Rapa Nui Palm along with other biota contributed to the collapse of society on Easter Island.[2] Dransfield suggests that the trees may have gone extinct as they were cut down for the edible palm hearts as food supplies ran out for an island overpopulated by humans. It is also likely that many palms were cut down to build canoes for fishing. Another possibility is the Polynesian rat, brought in by settlers arriving between AD 800 and 1000, consumed the nuts of the palm, leaving insufficient numbers to reseed the island.[3]

Despite the extinction of the tree, this palm appear to have been represented two hundred years later in the Rongorongo script of Easter Island, in the glyph rongorongo glyph 67.

References[edit]

Line notes[edit]

  1. ^ John Dransfield. 2008
  2. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008
  3. ^ [1] LA Times, Easter Island has stone heads, but little else. What happened?, 20 June 2012.