Scientists Determine Chile’s “Great-Grandfather” Cypress Tree Is The Oldest In The World

As humans, we often think that we create long-lasting history, but we pale in comparison to trees. There are trees that have been around for hundreds of years, long before our grandparents were born, and others that had been around for millennia.

As an example, we have Methuselah, which is a California bristle cone pine that has been around for an estimated 4800 years, according to Famous Redwoods. On the island of Crete, there is an ancient olive tree that has been around for thousands of years as well, according to Open Culture.

Photo: YouTube/Al Jazeera English

According to the Economic Times, another tree that certainly has left its mark on history is known as Great Grandfather. That tree is a cypress, located in Chile and it is estimated to be 5,484 years old. That is the oldest tree living today.

If you wanted to visit Great Grandfather, you would have to go to Santiago and travel about 500 miles south, deep into the forest of Chile. The tree is sheltered in a ravine, which may have helped with its longevity.

Standing at 92 feet tall and 13 feet in diameter, there are many smaller trees that have taken root within it. It also has moss covering its surface, but it’s the years it has been around that really get our attention.

Photo: YouTube/Al Jazeera English

A representative of Chile’s Center for climate science and resilience, Antonio Lara spoke to APF about the process of sampling the inner core of the tree using a thin borer so they didn’t cause any harm.

Counting the growth rings in that section of the core, they came up with 2400. The tree was so large that they couldn’t reach the center, so a computer model helped to finalize the ring count.

After comparing the tree to others and the variables that may exist, they are 80% sure that Great Grandfather is more than 5000 years old.

Photo: YouTube/Al Jazeera English

Prior to this information, Methuselah was thought to hold the world record for the oldest tree. They can look at Great Grandfather as more than just an interesting landmark. These ancient trees also hold a lot of clues as to the planet’s climate, and how it is changed over the years.

According to AFP, a colleague of Lara’s, Jonathan Barichivich called ancient trees “nature’s best athletes.” He also said that if those ancient trees were to disappear, a key to the adaptation of life on our planet will disappear along with it.

In order to protect Great Grandfather, they built a wooden platform. Doing so keeps people from walking in the area and damaging the roots of the tree. As a result, this tree will be around to tell a story for many years to come.

Protect the Planet

Help preserve vital habitat at The Rainforest Site for free!