13 April 2008

Trees older than the earth !!!

I had assumed that no one would ever find trees older than the Bristlecone pines of California (the one dubbed "Methusaleh" is approximately 5,000 years old (the tree "Prometheus" was actually older, but it was cut down during the process of establishing its age!)

Now a group of scientists from the University of Umea in Sweden are reporting the discovery of Norway spruces in central Sweden whose roots are 8,000 years old. The rigors of a near-arctic climate result in the intermittent dying-back of the central trunk (every 600 years or so), but the roots then put forth new growth, and some individual trees have thus been present since the end of the last Ice Age!

As someone on the Reddit discussion board noted, the best name for this newly discovered tree would be Yggdrasil (the ash tree at the center of the universe in Norse cosmology).

Of course, those with a more fundamentalist approach to interpreting the world will have to puzzle over (or ignore) the fact that this tree is 2,000 years older than the earth itself.....

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