Deep within a protected primeval forest in southern Chile lies a massive tree that has existed for thousands of years.
The tree has earned the nickname the ‘Great Grandfather’ or great grandfather. Now the tree which is also known as Gran Abuelo is predicted to break the record as the oldest tree in the world.
Reporting from IFL Science, Tuesday (2/5/2023) the Great Grandfather tree is an extraordinary specimen.
It is an alerce tree, a Patagonia spruce of the Fitzroya cupressoides species native to Chile and southern Argentina.
The Great Grandfather had a trunk that was 4 meters in diameter and 28 meters tall, probably starting its life at the time when humans first discovered writing.
The world’s oldest tree is sheltered in a cool, damp ravine, which has protected it from threats such as forest fires and loggers who have exterminated many of its relatives and their ilk over the years.
Now this tree has shriveled, wrinkled and is home to moss and small trees that have started to grow in the crevices.
The Great Grandfather eventually became a very valuable tree to science because it may contain information related to climate change and how the Earth has adapted to changing conditions over the centuries.
“The Great Grandfather was a survivor, no other tree has had the chance to live so long,” said Antonio Lara, researcher at Austral University and Chile’s center for climate science and resilience.
Furthermore, the oldest tree, the Great Grandfather is over 5,000 years old, which makes it a century older than the current holder of the title, the 4,853 year old Methuselah tree, an old bristlecone pine located in California.
Discovery of the Great Grandfather tree Jonathan Barichivich, a Chilean environmental scientist working at the Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Sciences in Paris, said his grandfather found the Great Grandfather in the 1970s while working as a ranger with his wife. In 2020, Lara and Barichivich then sampled the core from the tree using a borer, a T-shaped drill that can extract a narrow piece of wood without damaging the tree and analyzed the rings. The sample apparently contained about 2,400 dense growth rings, but it was incomplete because the drill couldn’t reach the center of the tree. So Barichivich and Lara turned to statistical modeling using core samples from other alerce trees to help estimate the age of the Great Grandfather. They combined this information with other known environmental factors and variations that can affect how trees grow.
Source : Kompas