The Oldest Living Things are Bristlecone Pine

Exploring the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest | ...

Bristlecones Pines are far smaller than the thousand-year old ancient redwoods or Sequoias, but can be far older. The really ancient ones live at high elevations, not far from the tree line, where growing conditions are harsh. The trees face high winds, severe cold and low rainfall. They are native to the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The Latin name for the bristlecone is Pinus longaeva.

When scientists began to examine the bristlecones, they were shocked at how old the trees. A number of bristlecones are more than four thousand years old. Those trees were a thousand years old when the Greeks trotted out the Trojan Horse. 

They were two thousand years old when Brutus and friends murdered Julius Caesar. They were three thousand years old when Crusaders fought Saracens for control of Palestine. They were four thousand years old when the first human walked on the moon. All in the lifetime of a single tree. 

There is some controversy over what is the oldest living thing. What muddies the water is that trees that clone themselves may live many thousands of years, but a clone is not the original organism. The oldest non-clonal living thing is the Bristlecone Pine.

The bristlecone pines have survived storms and harsh winters, rain and drought. Their most severe test may be yet to come, if predictions of global climate change are correct.

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