Is it really the oldest tree in the world? Skeptics and proponents weigh in » Explorersweb

A tree called Alerce Milenario, located in Alerce Costero National Park in Chile, may be the oldest living organism in the world. Research by Jonathan Barichivich, a Chilean environmental scientist working in Paris, estimates that the conifer is over 5,000 years old.

Barichivich drills into

Barichivich holds a master’s degree in climate change and a doctorate. in Environmental Science from the world renowned Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, UK. He is also a winner of the Make Our Planet Great Again (MOPGA) program, created by the French government to find creative solutions to climate change.

Some of the dendrochronologist’s work is available through Google Scholar.

For this particular test, it used a special drill to test the age of the Alerce Milenario. The drill removes narrow wood elements without damaging the tree.

His method showed about 2,400 growth rings. Barichivich and his team deduced that the tree had an 80% chance of being around 5,484 years old.

What type of tree is it?

Belonging to the same botanical family as giant sequoias and redwoods, Alerces Milenario is a type of conifer. That puts it in the same rough category as Methuselah, the eastern California bristlecone pine widely considered the oldest tree in the world, with 4,853 growth rings.

In 1993, Antonio Lara from the Austral University of Chile found an old strain of alerce in southern Chile with 3,622 tree rings, similar to Alerce Milenario.

Who supports Barichivich’s claim?

Several scholars are intrigued by Barichvich’s findings.

Harald Bugmann, a fellow dendrochronologist at ETH Zürich, said the method used to determine the age of the tree was “a very clever approach”.

Others are more reserved.

“The prospect is certainly exciting,” said Nathan Stephenson, scientist emeritus at the US Geological Survey. “[But] as a scientist, you want the peer-reviewed publication, with all the dirty, dirty details.

This lack of detail made others doubt it.

Are there any skeptics?

Barichivich’s informal results do not include a full count of growth rings, which some consider essential for accurately aging any tree.

Ed Cook, founding director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University, expressed his opinion forcefully.

“The ONLY way to truly determine the age of a tree is to count the rings dendrochronologically. This requires ALL rings to be present or accounted for,” he concluded.

Barichivich is not afraid of skepticism. “Alerce is the second longest living species, so you would expect to see old trees,” he said. “My method is verified by studying [the full growth rings of] other trees.

Ramzi Touchan, of the University of Arizona’s Tree Ring Research Laboratory, said making assumptions about tree rings without counting them leaves room for error. As a young tree, it may have had less competition and grown faster than later years, he argued, so inferences about a tree’s inner rings may be inaccurate.

Still, Barichivitch said, “The alert is where it should be on the exponential growth curve. It grows slower than bristlecone pine, the oldest known tree, indicating it should live longer.

Barichivitch will soon publish a full report on his findings.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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