The Methuselah tree and the secrets of Earth’s oldest organisms
As old-timers go, the Methuselah tree in California’s White Mountains takes some beating. According to research released last week, this ancient bristlecone pine will be 4,851 years old this year. Not a bad performance when it comes to avoiding the Grim Reaper.
Nor is the Methuselah on its own in making recent headlines about longevity. Researchers announced last week they had found beds of kelp off Shetland, and in Irish and French Atlantic waters, that had survived for 16,000 years. A day later, an international group of scientists announced that they had revived microbes which had lain dormant in seabed mud for 100 million years.
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Words by Robin McKie