Is Chile the home to the oldest tree in the world? This scientist thinks so Photograph:( Reuters )
Dr Jonathan Barichivich said that the results from the tests conducted suggest that the tree, a Patagonian cypress, also known as the alerce milenario, could be around 5,484 years old right now.
A conifer with a four-metre-thick trunk known as the Great-Grandfather can be the oldest tree in the world, according to scientists in Chile. Reports claim that the tree is more than 600 years older than the current record-holder. This is a startling claim made by Dr Jonathan Barichivich, a scientist at the Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory in Paris, who has been conducting tests on the tree. Barichivich said that the results from the tests conducted on it suggest that the tree, a Patagonian cypress, also known as the alerce milenario, could be around 5,484 years old right now.
The record currently belongs to 4,853-year-old bristlecone pine called Methuselah in the US.
Barichivich used to visit the tree as a child at the Alerce Costero national park and in 2020, he decided to test out a bore sample to understand the age of Great-Grandfather. Computer modelling and tests conducted by his team came up with the surprising discovery, but it has been published yet.
The country’s environment minister - Maisa Rojas – has already lauded the news about the tree as a “marvellous scientific discovery” and said that this can be a huge achievement for Chile.
The Alerce Milenario is a kind of tree indigenous to Chile and Argentina but it is very rare to find one which is over 5000 years old. However, it is important to preserve the tree in Chile as Barichivich said that the waste left by the huge number of visitors and climate change is causing harm to the tree.
(With inputs from agencies)