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Oldest Living Tree


Yeah, this isn't quite about dinosaurs, but it blew my mind over
breakfast this morning, hope it does likewise!

Marion Anderson
Earth Sci, Monash Uni, Melbourne Australia.


Huon Pine Spans Human History
by James Woodford, Sydney
"The Age", Melbourne, Sat 28th Jan 1995

Buried under shags of moss, high on a wild Tasmanian mountain,
is the world's oldest living organism: a sprawling huon pine
that is more than 10,500 years old.
The tree, on top of 1157-metre Mount Read in the state's
north-west, was found by a Forestry Tasmania special timbers
forester, Mr Michael Peterson.
Scientists describe it as a museum of the world's climate, and one
of the first secrets it has revealed is evidence of an unprecedented
temperature rise since the 1960s.
Mount Read is inside a mineral lease owned by Pasminco mining
company and is home to a range of vegitation.
Spread over more than a hectare, it has thousands of roots and 
branches that through the millenia have slowly crept down the
boggy mountain.
When Mr Peterson first saw the tangled mass of almost impenetrable
vegetation in 1985 he thought it was a small forest.
It is possible, said Mr Peterson, that the tree is thousands
of years older than the present estimate. "We could be looking
at something that is 30,000 or 40,000 years old," he said.
The biggest threat to the tree is fire: a fire in 1961 destroyed
one quarter of the stand.
Proposals to mine the area are also being considered and the tree's
only formal protection is its status as a "recommended area for
Dr Ed Cook, a specialist in the dating of trees from Columbia
University in the US, has been working on Mount Read for several
"These trees have indicated that the last 30 years have been quite
unusual in that they have been the warmest in 30,000 years.
"It represents the entire recorded history of humanity. The rise
of cities and agriculture. It spans all of human history."

(Retyped without permission of the author or the newspaper concerned..)