Above: Shigeru Miki’s 1941 paper in the Japanese Journal of Botany describing and illustrating for the first time the fossil Metasequoia.
Below left: Cleared and stained modern leaves of Metasequoia.
Below right: Petrified branch of a dawn redwood from Strathcona Fiord, Elsmere Island, Nunuvut, Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
In 1941, in the midst of the Second World War, Japanese paleobotanist Shigeru Miki first coined the name Metasequoia for a common but perplexing species well-known in Northern Hemisphere fossil collections under a variety of different names, all of which were incorrect. Then in July 1943 Chan Wang, a scientist with China’s National Bureau of Forest Research at Chongqing, discovered a tree growing in the town of Moudao in central China that seemed to be brand new to science.
It wasn’t until about five years later that the Chinese botanist H. H. Hu finally recognized that Wang’s living tree was the same kind as Miki’s fossil tree.