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Tsyorina'wll - flour seed plant
|Behind the scenes|
The cycads (Na'vi name: tsyorina'wll meaning "flour seed plant") on Pandora bears an uncanny resemblance to cycads that occur throughout the Earth's tropics. Cycads are ancient seed plants that are found in Earth's fossil record as far back as 208 and possibly even 325 million years ago. They were common during the age of the dinosaurs.
Although it is possible that identical life-forms could have evolved on two separate planets, geological and atmospheric differences between Earth and Pandora have led some to speculate that cycads were transported to Pandora from Earth, possibly on a meteor chipped off from Earth during the Yucatan asteroid strike. Given the remarkable chain of events that would need to have occurred to make this possible, however, most xenobotanists and astronomers dispute this theory.
Cycads on Pandora live in close association with nitrogen-fixing organisms resembling anemonoid that grow on their trunks. They do not accumulate toxins in their tissues the way Earth cycads do, and their seeds can be used as food by the Na'vi and ground up to make flour.
Since cycads have become rare on Earth, botanists are studying the possibility of exporting specimens from Pandora. Though the nitrogen-fixing role would be accomplished by a blue-green algae in the roots similar to Earth cycads, it is believed that the symbiotic anemonoid would not grow in Earth's atmosphere. These algae produce a neurotoxin that can create symptoms similar to Lou Gehrig's disease. Yet the beauty and rarity of the plant may still make it an attractive item in the horticulture trade.