Masoala madagascariensis / Roscheria melanochaetes / Oncosperma horridum // These three palms from opposite sides of the Indian Ocean may appear quite different, but their relationship to each other weaves a fascinating tale of geologic and genetic history. It all began dozens of millions of years ago... The Indian Ocean looked a little different back then, mainly the fact that India was still smack dab next to Africa in a region known as the Mascarene Plateau. The plot thickens as India dramatically broke away, splitting the ancestral members of the subtribe Oncospermatinae. The Oncosperma section (fig. 3) that drifted away with India spread through Southeast Asia and became an extremely fierce and thorny genus of palms with durable stems. The ones left behind like Roscheria (Fig. 2) on the scattered islands went crazy in their morphology, creating seven separate genera across the region due to their isolation. However the story does not end there, as recent studies by Carl Lewis have pinned Masoala (Fig. 1), a mysterious genus from Eastern Madagascar that seems to come out of nowhere, as a sister subtribe to the Oncospermatinae. This hints that the ancestors were much more widespread across the area at one point, since one species of Masoala is quite far south. This daydreaming is intensified when i think of all the islands that were lost when the lower half of the plateau sunk into the ocean... how many palm genera and missing links could have disappeared within the region? #floribundapalms .