Paleontological Pine Puzzler

Wollamia Nobilis image credit: Fritz Geller-Grimm / Wikimedia Commons

The Wollemi pine is a mystery to paleontologists. For one thing, it was unknown until 1994 despite being discovered on 125 miles from downtown Sydney, Australia in Wollemi National Park. These secluded trees require specific growing conditions. Another baffling thing about them is that they are not in the fossil record. Pollen from their genus is in the fossil record, however, in strata allegedly 200 million years old. Then, nothing. The Wollemi pine has been called a "living fossil". Because it does not fit with the evolutionary scheme but does fit well with creationist models, it has probably been called other things that are best left unrepeated.
The foliage of the Wollemi pine is virtually identical to that of one of its supposed fossil ancestors, the late Jurassic (150 million year old) Agathis jurassica (figure 3). This obvious relationship explains the designation of the Wollemi pine as a "tree from the Dinosaur Age," a "living fossil" that has been "missing for 150 million years." To evolutionary botanists the origin of the Wollemi pine remains an evolutionary enigma. How could this tree go missing for 150 million years when its relative sits fossilized less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from the living survivors?
You can read the rest of "Wollemia nobilis: A Living Fossil and Evolutionary Enigma", in context, here.