The window to a lost world

The Marquesas Islands: a window into a lost world

Indigenous / endemic insect subfossils 1. A. Adamanthea (Staphylinidae) cattle head; B. Cossonine ‘B’ head weevil, male and female; C. Paederine staphylinid beetle poo; D. Mumfordia (Latridiidae) northern elytron cattle; E. Ampagia (Curcuclionidae) weevil hind femur; F. Platyscapa (Agaonidae) fig wasp head; G. Proterhinus (Belidae) or weevil; H. Cryptotermes dolei (Kalotermitidae) mandible termites; I. Chelisoches morio (Chelisochidae) earwig forcep. Scale dimensions: AH, 0.25 mm. I, 2 mm. Found: Nick Porch

Polynesian tourists have discovered a wealth of different plants and animals when they arrive in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, according to new research.

In an independent transdisciplinary study of the past Marquesan, Professor Melinda Allen, a geologist at the University of Auckland, paleoentomologist Dr. Nick Porch and paleobotanist Tara Lewis of Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences studied plants and arthropods (insects, spiders, mites), with evidence of early Polynesian activity, on Hoʻoumi Beach on Nuku Hiva Island.

The group hopes to build a picture of the indigenous Polynesians, who arrived in the 12th century AD from the islands to the west.

In a reservoir on the east coast of the island, Dr. Porch has over 100 different taxes (living species) with nine large groups and more than 39 families.

Professor Allen said that radiocarbon dating of coconut and pandanus fruit fragments was formed around the middle of the 12th century AD.

“It’s a good variety, with species of bees, with stairs, bees, squirrels, species of mites, bees figs, and so on,” he said.

The group’s report shows that many of the species were extinct among the species, as well as the fragile indigenous species that quickly disappeared in the East Polynesian islands soon after the arrival of the tsunami. Canada.

The Marquesas Islands: a window into a lost world

Plant macrofossils of extinction or extinction. Product: A. Trema cf. orientalis; B. cf. Claoxylon (ventral view; lateral view); C. Acalypha; D. Mussaenda; E. Macaranga (see page; background). Lau Moss: F. Fissidens cf. raiatensis; G. Calymperes cf. moorei; H. Calymperes cf. ʻĀhitensis. Scale plates: B, E, 2 mm; A, H, 1 mm; C, G, 0.5 mm; D, F, 0.25 mm. Found: Nick Porch

The group also found anthropophilic or “people -loving” insects attached to the rootstock of taro, sweet potatoes and other plants brought to the islands by the colonists. Polynesia.

Their visit was another sign for the people of the island and they began to be aware of the many valleys of Nuku Hiva, said Professor Allen.

“An independent hawk, two or three species of ant, and a species of earwig can be clearly identified as ‘Polynesian associates.’ Two of these, the short flat pole and the earwig, were known to Māori, as they had been seen in the early gardens of Ahuahu (Great Mercury Island) by my friends. do archaeological. “

The remnants of previously unknown plants on the island are another testament to its amazing biodiversity over the centuries, he said.

“Fruits from a native palm, Pritchardia, show a unique Nuku Hiva species. Marquesan Pritchardia was known to early European visitors, but today everything is lost in the forest. .. ulana ana. “

He said the basement (under the forest) was rich in small plants and flowering plants, and about four new species, but this independent forest had disappeared from the lowlands of the Marquesan. .

Drawing on these stories, a native forest began to grow, dominated by pandanus, palm trees, tree ferns, and some native hardy trees such as Pterophylla, a relative of the maple. New Zealand.

ʻO nā mokupuni ʻo Marquesas: Window i kahi honua nalowale

A. Hypoponera cf. head punctatissima ant (Formicidae); B. Nylanderia sp. head ant (Formicidae); C. Tetramorium bicarinatum ant (Formicidae) female pronotum ant; D. ʻOpoea-type spider (Oonopidae) carapace spider; E, F. Cryptamorpha desjardinsii (Silvanidae) (eye- and metaventrites (E) and prothorax (F). All specimens 0.25 mm. Translation: Allen et al. (Nick Porch), 2022, PLOS SOMEONECC-BY 4.0

Due to dense and uninhabited forests, many valleys of the Marquesas are undiscovered but since the beginning of the 19th century, goats, cattle, rats and cats have been introduced. to native plants and animals, says Professor Allen.

“However, recent studies show that more than 53% of Marquesan arthropods and 48% of plants are not found anywhere else in the world (endmics), and some of the fish on different beaches are of the Marquesas. “

He said these islands have developed high levels of endemism in many communities, including the Galapagos Islands.

“These effects, with their ecological diversity, have evolved from a common ancestor over millennia.”

While they don’t have the full history, the group believes they have a much deeper perspective of plants and animals than the west of the island, and have created a basis for new healing efforts.

“The weaving of these various lines of evidence cleaned up the timing of the arrival of the indigenous Polynesians in Nuku Hiva. We were also given a detailed account of the unique communities they saw in this remote island, ”said Professor Allen.

The article “Lost bioscapes: Floristic and arthropod diversity with 12th century Polynesian settlement, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands” was published by Melinda S. Allen, Tara Lewis and Nick Porch. PLOS SOMEONE.


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More information:
Melinda S. Allen et al, Lost species: Floristic and arthropod diversity as a 12th century Polynesian settlement, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, PLOS SOMEONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0265224

Presented by the University of America

Directions: The Marquesas Islands: Window into a lost world (2022, March 31) Retrieved 31 March 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-marquesas-islands-window-lost-world .html

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