BY KYNA RUBIN
On a clear August day in 2002, Ma Jinshuang, a botanist, struck gold. At the bottom of a cabinet in a dark, moist, long-abandoned herbarium in Nanjing, perched unprotected on top of the conifer specimens, lay a barely intact cluster of twigs and needles. A rotting heap of nature, to most eyes.
But Ma had spent years finding the pile—the lone survivor of a lost series of specimens that, in 1940s China, led to the botanical find of a century: a living fossil we now call Metasequoia glyptostroboides, or dawn redwood.
Its discovery captivated the world, especially the American public, and made possible the myriad (more…)