Outback palms - Aboriginal myth meets DNA analysis

Sunday, 20 Mar 2016

A myth turns out to be true

The Aboriginal myth came to our attention through a 2013 translation of an 1895 text by German anthropologist and missionary Carl Strehlow (see go.nature.com/kxfyvn). He wrote of a visit to Palm Creek: “There are beautiful 40 to 50 feet high palms here surrounded by gum trees and acacias and the herbs and flowers at their base release a sharp smell. How this palm got into the interior of Australia has not been established yet by science.” Strehlow relates that, according to traditional local beliefs, “the gods from the high north brought the seeds to this place a long time ago”.