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Paschalococos disperta (Rapa Nui Palm or Easter Island Palm), formerly Jubaea disperta, was the native cocoid palm species of Easter Islandmarker. It disappeared from the pollen record circa 1650 AD.

It is not known whether the species is distinct from Jubaea, but there is no evidence that it was Jubaea either, as the soft tissues used for identification of cocoid genera have not been preserved. All that remain are pollen from lake beds, hollow endocarps (nuts) found in a cave, and casts of root bosses. Partly to avoid giving credence to the common but speculative assumption that the palms were Jubaea chilensis and used as rollers to move the moai statues of Easter Island, John Dransfield assigned the species to a new genus.

Human overpopulation in the period 800 to 1600 AD led to extinction of the Rapa Nui Palm. Hogan believes that loss of the Rapa Nui Palm along with other biota contributed to the collapse of society on Easter Island.Dransfield suggests that the trees may have gone extinct as they were cut down for the edible palm hearts as food supplies ran out for an island overpopulated by humans. It is also likely that many palms were cut down to build canoes for fishing.

Despite the extinction of the tree, this palm appear to have been represented two hundred years later in the Rongorongo script of Easter Island, in the glyph .


Line notes

  1. John Dransfield. 2008
  2. C. Michael Hogan. 2008

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