Finally, a new genus is named for Sir David Attenborough

"This new discovery underlines once again the importance of the Gabonese national parks," said Raoul Niangadouma.
By Brooks Hays  |  Feb. 4, 2015 at 5:08 PM
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LIBREVILLE, Gabon, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- It's about time. Beloved naturalist Sir David Attenborough -- whose gentle voice of delight and endless curiosity now lives in the head of nearly every nature lover -- finally has a portion of the plant kingdom all to himself.

Botanists in Gabon, the small country along the west coast of Central Africa, have discovered a rare species of flowering plant (a small tree) that belongs to the the custard apple family, Annonaceae. DNA analysis of the new species (Sirdavidia solannona) demanded a brand new genus for classification purposes -- the perfect opportunity for scientists to pay tribute to Sir David.

"Sir David Attenborough has been such a wonderful and important influence in my life and the life of so many," Dr. Thomas Couvreur, a scientist at France's Institute of Research for Development, said in press release. "I was really surprised when I realised that no one has named a genus after him before, so I found this discovery an excellent opportunity to honor him with a genus name."

Researchers from Gabon and France were only able to locate two of the newly named plants, both along a main road through Monts de Cristal National Park. Their rarity suggests the species is most likely endangered.

The flowing plant is characterized by an unusual flower structure boasting red petals set against a loose arrangement of bright yellow stamens.

"This new discovery underlines once again the importance of the Gabonese national parks for conserving the wonderful yet incompletely known biodiversity for the country and Africa," explained Gabonese researcher Raoul Niangadouma, a senior botanist at the National Herbarium in Libreville.

"The last thing on my mind when starting this expedition was to discover a new species, let alone a new genus," added Dr. Hervé Sauquet, an associate professor at the University of Paris XI. "We aimed for well-known regions in Gabon because we wanted to be sure to find the necessary flowers for our project."

The new species is detailed in the open source journal PhytoKeys.

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