Madagascar: Land Out of Time

music
ambience: Madagascar forest

This island nation was once a haven for pirates has one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Can you guess what it is? I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“Madagascar’s the world’s fourth largest island. It’s one of the world’s poorest countries. It’s just off the coast of South Africa and is about the size of California. Most experts would refer to it as, if not the, one of the world’s top biodiversity conservation priorities.”

Luke Dollar is a Doctoral Fellow in ecology at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He tells us that eighty-five percent of the plants and animals in Madagascar are found nowhere else on Earth. So why such a unique ecosystem?

“Madagascar has been where it is for approximately a hundred fifty million years. That gives us a petri dish of what might happen through geological time, really, with a completely isolated, or almost completely isolated, ecosystem. Very few, mammalian arrivals to Madagascar have occurred. That’s why, for example, all the primates you find on Madagascar are not found anywhere else in the world. And they’re more primitive than primates on the rest of the planet. While evolution has replaced one group by another over time in the rest of the world, the primates of Madagascar, for example, have not seen a great deal of replacement over time. So you see these evolutionary tangents that make absolutely no sense whatsoever to anybody whose perspective is coming from somewhere else in the world, but for Madagascar, it’s perfectly normal. It’s been called the land out of time.”

Madagascar may be “out of time” in more ways than one. Its forests are being decimated. We’ll hear more on future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Madagascar: Land Out of Time

Madagascar is an island suspended in "geological time" - home to primitive animals and plants found nowhere else on earth.
Air Date:11/12/2002
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: Madagascar forest

This island nation was once a haven for pirates has one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Can you guess what it is? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"Madagascar's the world's fourth largest island. It's one of the world's poorest countries. It's just off the coast of South Africa and is about the size of California. Most experts would refer to it as, if not the, one of the world's top biodiversity conservation priorities."

Luke Dollar is a Doctoral Fellow in ecology at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. He tells us that eighty-five percent of the plants and animals in Madagascar are found nowhere else on Earth. So why such a unique ecosystem?

"Madagascar has been where it is for approximately a hundred fifty million years. That gives us a petri dish of what might happen through geological time, really, with a completely isolated, or almost completely isolated, ecosystem. Very few, mammalian arrivals to Madagascar have occurred. That's why, for example, all the primates you find on Madagascar are not found anywhere else in the world. And they're more primitive than primates on the rest of the planet. While evolution has replaced one group by another over time in the rest of the world, the primates of Madagascar, for example, have not seen a great deal of replacement over time. So you see these evolutionary tangents that make absolutely no sense whatsoever to anybody whose perspective is coming from somewhere else in the world, but for Madagascar, it's perfectly normal. It's been called the land out of time."

Madagascar may be "out of time" in more ways than one. Its forests are being decimated. We'll hear more on future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music