One scientist made a shocking declaration: a tree he’s studying may be a whopping 5,484 years old.
In the rain forest of the Alerce Costero National Park in southern Chile, one huge tree nicknamed the “Great Grandfather” shames the rest. And now, it may be crowned the title of world’s oldest tree.
Dr. Jonathan Barichivich, a Chilean scientist at the Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory in Paris, carried out a study on the tree.
The ancient cypress could be older than the 4,853-year-old “Methuselah.”
“Methuselah” is a bristlecone pine in California and current the record holder. It holds the record by more than half a millennium. But the trunk, which owns a diameter of 4.37 yards (4 meters), poses a challenge for the Chilean scientists. It’s hard for them to determine the exact age of the tree.
The tool used for counting tree rings simply isn’t long enough to determine the age of the tree. Unfortunately, at the moment, they can only calculate the minimum age of the tree.
“We could count all the rings, but we know it’s not the tree’s age. It’s an estimation of what we call a minimum age,” Barichivich told Reuters. “So, for this kind of tree, the scientific challenge is to estimate with science that part that we do not see and that is missing, and this is what we did with the millennial alerce.”
Dr. Barichivich Talks About the ‘Great Grandfather’ Tree
Barichivich explained that the study used a combination of computer models and traditional methods for calculating tree age. They determined the approximate age of the tree to be 5,484 years old. This would make it 631 years older than Methuselah.
“This method tells us that 80% of all possible growth trajectories give us an age of this living tree greater than 5,000 years,” Barichivich told Reuters. “There is only a 20% chance that the tree is younger.”
“Great Grandfather” could become not only the oldest tree in the world. Remarkably, it could also mark the oldest living thing on Earth.
“My hope is that viewers can think for a fraction of a second about what it means to live 5,000 years and see life in perspective, and that would make people understand the challenges nowadays is the ecologic and climate crisis that we’re facing,” said Barichivich.
According to The Guardian, “Great Grandfather” grows in a cool but humid habitat. However, the effects of climate change are causing the conditions surrounding the forest to become drier, which is one of the many threats it faces.
Here’s some perspective on how old “Great Grandfather” is: If Barichivich and his team are right, it predates all known forms of human written communication.
According to the Getty Center, a cultural institution based in Los Angeles, the earliest known human writing was dated to around 3,400 B.C. This is roughly 78 years after”Great Grandfather” started growing.