Baobabs, the iconic bottle trees of Africa and Madagascar, have a single relative, the boab, living in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia. No one knows when and how the boab came across from Africa to Australia, or why its natural range is limited to this region.
In a study published recently in PLOS ONE, we solve one part of this mystery by showing that ancient Aboriginal peoples were responsible for spreading the boab in the Kimberley.
The boab mystery
An early hypothesis was that baobabs existed in parts of the supercontinent of Gondwana, which split up and became Africa, Madagascar and Australia more than 50 million years ago. This was not very convincing because, for one thing, peninsular India was part of that massive continental break-up, but does not have any of its own baobab species.… Read the rest