Ancient tree in the Andes may be the oldest in the world

(ORDO NEWS) — A new study suggests that the world’s oldest tree may have been standing for centuries when the first boulders were erected at Stonehenge.

A new computer model suggests that the ancient giant, the alersa (Fitzroya cupressoides), known as “Gran Abuelo” (or “Great-grandfather” in Spanish), that towers over a gorge in the Chilean Andes, may be about 5,400 years old.

If the date can be confirmed, this Gran Abuelo would be almost 600 years older than the current official record holder for the oldest tree in the world, a pine (Pinus longaeva) in California known as “Methuselah”.

However, the exact age of Alers is still somewhat disputed, because confirming this requires analysis of the tree’s growth rings – a technique known as dendrochronology, and the gold standard for determining a tree’s age – and this data is currently incomplete.

The driller simply could not get to the center of the barrel, which is 4 meters in diameter, so some of the rings could not be counted.

Whatever its age, the tree is in danger and needs to be protected, said Jonathan Baricivic, a climate and global ecologist at the Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Sciences in Paris and the researcher who created the model. The tree is threatened by crowds of tourists eager to touch the curiosity, as well as global climate change.

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