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Distinguished Author

Bocage-JV-Barbosa-du-1823-1.jpg

José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage
  (1823–1907).

A Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was the curator of Zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Lisbon. His work at the Museum consisted in acquiring, describing and coordinating collections, many of which arrived from the Portuguese colonies in Africa, such as Angola, Mozambique, etc. He published more than 200 taxonomic papers on mammals, birds, and fishes. In the 1880s he became the Minister of the Navy and later the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Portugal. The zoology collection at the Lisbon Museum is called the Bocage Museum in his honor. He was responsible for identifying many new species, which he named according to the naturalist who found them.

Species of the month

Walking Palm

Socratea exorrhiza

Socratea exorrhiza

Some facts on this palm:

Height: Up to 25 meters.

Stem diameter: Up to 16 cm.

Leaves: Greenish blue up to 1 meter long.

Fruit: Yellow, round to oval in shape; about 3 cm. in diameter.

Habitat: Rain forests in tropical Central and South America. Requires warm, sheltered climates that are very humid as well as moist soils.

Range: Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua and Hawaii.

First described: By the German botanist and explorer Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, who originally named it Iriartea exorrhiza.


A walking tree? I agree: it isn't a common sight, yet Socratea exorrhiza can walk. Well, sort of. This tree's roots grow from the base of the trunk high above ground, making it appear as though it is standing on stilts. New roots constantly emerge from a higher point than older ones below. Over time the tree levitates itself off the ground, while the lower, older roots rot and fall away. The new roots grow towards better light and consequently the tree's position changes horizontally as well. The process is very slow and the palm does not seem to visibly walk, but over a period of a year, it can actually move up to 1 meter from its original position. The genus Socratea contains five species of walking palms found in tropical America. It belongs to the Arecaceae or "palm trees" family which has around 2600 species.

See also: Species of previous months

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