‘Dino tree’ project ends

After all the hoopla, the Wollemi project winds up with a whimper


Published: 2 July 2009(GMT+10)
Akerbeltz, wikimedia commons WollemiaPineCones

Wollemia nobilis. Click for larger view.

The 1994 discovery of the Wollemi pine growing in a remote gorge in New South Wales, Australia, caused a sensation, because it had previously only been known from fossils said to be millions of years old (as we have previously reported—see, e.g., Sensational Australian tree … like “finding a live dinosaur”).

While keeping the exact location a secret, the authorities offered up a single licence to propagate the ‘living fossil’ tree, which was won in 1998 by a government department of the neighbouring state of Queensland.

Expecting that people worldwide would jump at the chance to purchase their own ‘dinosaur tree’ growing in their back yard, the Queensland Government predicted it would reap sales of up to $21 million annually.

Indeed, they would have been justified in thinking that, given the hype from various quarters around the world. When internationally-renowned wildlife expert Sir David Attenborough planted the tree at Kew Gardens, London, his evolutionary ‘spin’ on the event was prominently reported:

“How marvellous and exciting that we should have discovered this rare survivor from such an ancient past,” Sir David said. “It is romantic, I think, that something has survived 200 million years unchanged.”

And it wasn’t just Sir David waxing lyrical about the ‘dino tree’. As the head of the arboretum at Kew, Tony Kirkham, said:

“In botanic terms, it is like a zoologist going out and finding a live dinosaur somewhere, a Tyrannosaurus rex.”

However, three years after the first trees went on sale, the Queensland Government has wound up the Wollemi project, as poor sales forced the cancellation of the world exclusive contract nine years early. “I could see we were making big losses and I got us out of it,” said a government minister.1

The government had spent $16 million on the project to date, with sales revenue only about $4 million—a loss of $12 million.

While we at CMI don’t want to engage in schadenfreude2 at the demise of what in some respects might have been considered a worthy project—propagation of a rare plant species—its failure to capture the anticipated degree of public interest is noteworthy. Perhaps there is a greater proportion of people in the community sceptical of evolutionary claims than evolutionists might want to acknowledge?

Of course, evolutionists’ romanticising of the Wollemi pine is understandable, given that their interpretation of the fossil record puts it as extinct for millions of years—which it obviously isn’t. Note, too, that the Wollemi pine is essentially unchanged, i.e. no evolution has taken place.

As we regularly point out, the ‘millions of years’ and ‘age of dinosaurs’ are a furphy (that’s Aussie for a false report). And as we’ve explained in our previous articles about the Wollemi pine, from a biblical standpoint, the Wollemi and other ‘living fossils’ most likely date from the Flood, around 4,500 years ago. When viewing the evidence of the world around us from that perspective, things make a whole lot more sense. (See, e.g. Seeing the pattern.)

Hence when ‘extinct’ fossil species from the so-called ‘dinosaur age’ are found to be living today—including even a dinosaur if ever discovered alive in some remote area of the world—it’s no surprise to creationists. See, e.g., Correcting the headline: ‘coelacanth’, yes; ‘ancient’, no.

Published: 2 July 2009

References and notes

  1. Lion, P., and Morley, P., Barking Mad: The trees that ate your tax dollars, The Courier Mail (Aust), pp. 1–2, 25 February 2009. Return to text.
  2. An English word that has been adopted from the German, meaning taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others. Return to text.