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Abstract

Changes in species distributions after the last glacial maximum (c. 18 000 years bp) are beginning to be understood, but information diminishes quickly as one moves further back in time. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Magri et al. (2007) present the fascinating case of a Mediterranean tree species whose populations preserve the genetic imprints of plate tectonic events that took place between 25 million years and 15 million years ago. The study provides a unique insight into the pace of evolution of trees, which, despite interspecific gene flow, can retain a cohesive species identity over timescales long enough to allow the diversification of entire plant and animal genera.