Dr. Donald R. Currey

Professor, University of Utah Department of Geography

Director, University of Utah Limneotectonics Laboratory

While he was a graduate student in 1964, at the edge of Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park in Nevada; he was researching the age of some of bristlecone pines by counting their tree rings. He found a particularly old specimen. Normal tree dating technology (dendrochronology) involves taking a core drill of the tree, and counting the growth rings. However the normal approach to coring the tree wasn't working because the largest available increment bores were too small. Anxious to determine the true age of the tree, he proceeded to cut it down.

As it turned out, he cut down what turned out to be the oldest known surviving organism on the planet earth. Over 4900 years old. He said it was the first tree he stumbled upon, after only 5 minutes of looking.

If you don't believe this story, I don't blame you. I didn't believe it either. But it is a true story. I seen it on the PBS show Nova.

Related:

Methuselah Even trees die The oldest and largest living thing Regret is an inevitable consequence of life
  • geologic time

    Sources: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2817methuselah.html http://www.anthro.utah.edu/fieldschool/currey.html Last updated 08.29.04

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