Monday, April 21, 2008
Oldest Tree Discovered
Recently, a seemingly puny looking spruce tree was discovered in the Dalama province of Sweden that has been carbon-14 dated at around 9,550 years of age. In total, there are about 20 trees in this upper mountainous region of Sweden, all of which are approximately over 8,000 years old.
The oldest known trees prior to this discovery were bristle cone pines in North American estimated to be 4500 years old. Although still at about two thousand years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza, they are only half as old as their Swedish counterparts.
4500 year old Bristlecone Pine of North America.
9,550 and Still Going
So how is it possible for a tree to continue to live after 9,550 years?
According to ScienceDaily, "these trees have survived harsh weather conditions [as well as any human interference they may have encountered in the remote mountains of Sweden] due to their ability to push out another trunk as the other one died."
In other words, when these spruce trees are decaying and dying they employ their remaining energy to grow another trunk as an alternate for when the main one is fully dead, and it is with this other trunk the tree remains. Continually repeating this process has allowed these extraordinarily resilient trees to survive over nine and a half millennia.
The Tree of Man?
To give you some context here, the last Ice Age ended around 10,000 years ago, and, sometime around then human beings invented crop cultivation and the domestication of animals.
Noting this period, formally called the Neolithic Revolution, is consistently regarded as the seed of human civilization - it appears the oldest known tree on the planet has subsisted to see the germination of non-nomadic human society and witness the Digital Age which persists today.
Ergo, couldn't we, fairly, dub this tree: the Tree of Man, or perhaps: the Tree of Civilized Man?
"This 9,550 year old spruce has been discovered in Dalarna, Sweden. A favourable climate has produced an upright trunk since the beginning of the 1940s."