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The Oldest Living Things In The World

These Are The Oldest Living Things On Earth
Harrison Jacobs
Apr. 22, 2014, 11:28 AM

There are living things on the Earth, both plants and animals, that have survived tens of thousands of years of slow and often violent change in the world. Yet, despite their seeming permanence and immortality, these ancient living things could soon disappear, if humans don't intervene to protect them. That is the contention of Brooklyn photographer and conceptual artist Rachel Sussman, who has spent a decade finding and documenting the oldest living things in the world.

Beginning with "Year Zero" or the beginning of the current era/AD, Sussman looked backward to find continuously living plants and organisms that are older than 2000 years old. In the process, she has worked with more than 30 scientists to identify a master list of living things that need to be documented before they disappear. The project has seen her travel from the far reaches of Antarctica for a barely documented species of moss to Siberia to document a half-million year-old colony of bacteria — Actinobacteria — that live in the permafrost.

When asked how many of the plants and organisms she documented were in danger, Sussman didn't hesitate.

"All of them," she told Business Insider. "We're past the 11th hour."
In just the last five years, two of the 30 subjects that Sussman documented with her photographs have disappeared, both because of direct human interference. The first was a 13,000-year-old underground baobab forest in Pretoria, South Africa that was bulldozed to make way for a road. A 3,500 year-old Cypress tree in Orlando, Florida nicknamed "The Senator" was burned down by a woman smoking meth in the hollow of the tree.

Most of the plants are difficult to find. Many are located in harsh environments that are difficult to travel to, while the locations of others are kept secret to protect them from an onslaught of tourists who might not respect the fragility of the aging plants.

Sussman shared some photos from the project with us here, but you can check out the rest in her new book, The Oldest Living Things In The World.

Read more with amazing pictures: http://www.businessinsider.com/rachel-sussmans-photos-of-the...



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Forgot to stick this in here the other day

Skeleton Found By Cave Divers Estimated To Be One Of The Oldest In North America

A cave-diving team found the remains of the sixth oldest skeleton found in the Americas, which links her ancestry with the earliest Americans to today's modern Native American, unraveling another clue to our human history. The story and details on the discovery of the well-preserved teenage skeleton, who they've named "Naia," will be published May 16, in the journals of Science.

Her remains were found in an underwater Yucatan Peninsula bell-shaped cave structure in a large pit named Hoyo Negro in Mexico. The center was littered with large boulders stacked on top of each other, and there the skeletal remains sat seemingly waiting to be discovered. Her pelvic bone was shattered and the break was dated back to the time of her death, which has led scientists to believe she plummeted to the bottom of the cave where she remained trapped for thousands of years.

*I also forgot skeletons aren't living

Very interesting post, jrd.

Thanks. :)

(I was relieved to see the domain was the world and not jamb cession.)

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

Canine transmissible venereal tumour

This is an 11,000 year old living thing.



Poachers also threaten the oldest living things it the world!


Mother nature will not tolerate this!

The Federal Reserve Act: Act To provide for the establishment of Federal reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States

Michael Nystrom's picture

That was very awesome


He's the man.

Cool video.

And an interesting post.

Anyone else here wonder why things used to be so much bigger and now they use exactly the same biological system and are much smaller. (Abstract) (One of the first fossils darwin ever found was of an enomous armadillo - but still an armadillo)

Ever wondered what the first cell had to eat without a system in place for their to be food ? Especially when you consider that each system has only so much energy and means to get it. Biologically I have always been amazed at DNA and it's ability to "mutate" perfectly to systems it's around. It's like building a computer with no software except execution cut/copy/paste and mildly sensory abilities and dropping it on earth and seeing what shape it takes. As far as I know there is not one documented fossil of a transitional species and this has always sent my mind for a tizzy. (It almost seems like we're here to convert energy)

Secondly ever wondered how Adam and evolutionary eve met ? Ex. Mutation happens in one offspring and not in the others consecutively(where did the mutated mate come from? What are the odds of the same mutation and then subsequent abilities to mate without malfunction) like a mule breeding what could the mutated offspring breed with ?

Case in point migratory birds even just a .00000000001 DNA variance like in the rest of the animals and they cannot domestically breed and require intervention.

If have read up to this point. Where the F did all that energy come from.

You don't understand

You don't understand evolution. Things don't mutate in order to adapt to their environment. They mutate at random. Some mutations are beneficial, and some aren't. The beneficial mutations help and the non-beneficial ones hinder. Beneficial mutations give an advantage and those organisms fair better and multiply. It's all blind and random.

"In reality, the Constitution itself is incapable of achieving what we would like in limiting government power, no matter how well written."

~ Ron Paul, End the Fed

how did a single cell

how did a single cell bacteria (earliest life) eventually turn into a blue whale (largest animal on earth)?

Complete Hogwash

No one understands evolution because it doesn't exist, it is story telling. For one thing give me one example of any organism gaining information through mutation. Name one beneficial mutation which gained information every freakin mutation loses information, this does not make a creature evolve.

A horse is always a horse and so on, never ever has there been a new species created. The biggest lie ever told is Darwinian Evolution

Species were larger in ancient eras

..because of a larger concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere.


the sun

and other chemical reactions that occur on earth.

-Matthew Good

The sun?

That explains where carbon comes from. The first life wasn't plants. It was bacteria, and the sun kills bacteria. So does oxygen.

I was thinking hydrocarbons. Ethane/methane. It's literally the only thing that would provide oxygen/carbon/hydrogen in a one stop shop. But protein/cholesterol would be required first.

There is bacteria that supposedly lives in oil too. It's the first thing to come to mind because we have found it on other planets and it's extremely dense for energy.

where do you think oil comes from?

It comes from once living organisms. Cyanobacteria used photosynthesis, so plain sunlight doesn't necessarily kill bacteria. Neither does oxygen. Some bacteria need oxygen to survive. They are called obligate aerobes. Read a microbiology book from the 21st century. It is fascinating.

-Matthew Good

Wow, you deserve a gold star for that.

Tell me do wake up everyday with a hearty cup of your own farts to get you going ? What exotic legume do you digest the night before - I have to know.


NASA seems to think otherwise, and considering their pictures + the expertise -- I imagine your argument looking like one of those polar bears in the global warming videos. And then I remember they acutally can swim. Maybe next time.

I'm a biology student. Not a moron.

Since your so inclined to include the technical knowledge why don't you explain the genesis of photosynthesis without DNA. (seeing as how that was part of my initial poorly written thought) Perhaps you can pepper me with your fantastic insights and win a nobel prize to boot.

You don't have in any part of the world that I have EVER heard of bacteria that eats UV rays. Plants - yes. Unless I'm presuming what you have said to be false.

Why thank you. I like gold stars.

To answer your question.. I only allow the most exotic and juicy of farts to start my day. Eating ranch style creates an art that has exclusive rights to my nostrils.

If you are wondering about the "eating"(a relative term, not a technical one) of UV rays, it is all about transferring light energy into chemical energy. http://www.whatarebacteria.com/photosynthetic-bacteria/

-Matthew Good

So are you saying those are the first biology

Those didn't arrive until almost 100 mya after. Nice try though.

They do "eat" sunlight - or as close as one could get. Without a ton of other precursors. And it still doesn't answer the original question/s.

When you say biology student,

When you say biology student, you mean high school biology? As I pointed out above, you don't even have a basic concept of how the mechanism of evolution actually works. Don't try and pretend to be something you aren't because you'll always get called-out eventually as you are right here.

"In reality, the Constitution itself is incapable of achieving what we would like in limiting government power, no matter how well written."

~ Ron Paul, End the Fed

And just to make sure you won't

Post anything that is worse than what you previously have. Did you know that legions of people out there believe the same thing as you ?

Tell me: Who and what does scarcity help - the people or the government and corportations. How many times in this life have these people said this same shit over and OVER AND OVER.


Yet, we have MOONS COVERED IN HYDROCARBONS. Where's the life smart ass. Inside the planet. Are you going to give me stories of underground water caverns and hidden mines with life.

Here's yet another article

(This one does presume life to be there. We can always mimic the conditions here, since tholin isn't found here on earth. We have both the biology and the technological know-how. I would think any enviorment like that will not have any life at all, and it's a multitude of times in distance further form the habitable zone as Mars. Just something to consider. )

(actual picture)

Why don't you post a link.

There isn't a single biologist in this world that will put his reputation on that. (unless of course he works for the oil companies) In which case they will deny it too the bank.

I have to ask -- how did you ignore the oceans of hydrocarbons on titan ? How can you do that ? There is not just pictures but them explaining exactly what it is.

I get it -- when it didn't confirm your beliefs you go back to the insults.

I guess when you look at it that way, which one of us is in high school?

Joη's picture

pando tree(s)!

one of the oldest, and biggest!



Maybe it's in the photographer's book.

"You underestimate the character of man." | "So be off now, and set about it." | Up for a game?

jrd3820's picture

You always have fun science videos to add

The Pando trees are mentioned in one of the few articles I read about this. But, I didn't realize it was all one network of root systems. As far as a single standing tree, I have heard before I read about this about the hyperion tree, but she also mentions another one in Sweden that she claims is one of the oldest single standing trees.

I hope Chris doesn't see all the panda references in that video, it will give him a heart attack.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

Joη's picture

wait, pando trees are referenced!

just not by name, written:

Also, there is a theoretically immortal species of jellyfish:

"You underestimate the character of man." | "So be off now, and set about it." | Up for a game?

jrd3820's picture

A Shape shifting jellyfish?

That is pretty cool. I thought the video mentioned the pando trees, but when you said it didn’t I thought maybe you were talking about a different type of tree or something and I make it a point not to argue scieney type things because I am usually wrong, same with math. You know what wasn’t on the list? The Oryx (ummm….I was spelling that wrong last night in our emails and you didn’t say anything and that is kind of embarrassing, and I have what I have dubbed screen dyslexia) which according to a very quick google and glance at the first link that popped up only have a life span of about 20 years. They obviously didn’t stand a chance to make the list, but I was determined to get it in somewhere.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

No mention of the Smudge Pot?

Seriously, though, great find. I am fascinated with these old organisms. To think that some of these trees were already old when Jesus walked the earth is mind blowing.

You post the coolest things. You are inspiring me to branch out into more non-political posts.

EDIT: Here is the book. I am thinking about buying it.


“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

jrd3820's picture

Thank You Ed

No, no mention of Smudge Pot, he must have heard her coming with her camera and shape-shifted to blend into his surroundings so as to not be caught.

Yes, I grew up in a very political setting where discussions with my father were primarily politically based, and after 2008-2012 also, I just eventually became bored with all of it, so I like to wander outside that arena when possible.

Oh, I forgot to tell you yesterday. You asked why no one ever downvotes me? It does happen sometimes. Once because I said that that Michael Nystrom guy is cointelpro.... I got some downvotes on that one. Some people just don't want the truth I guess. The truth is hard to hear. I love him anyways. He's a great guy.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

I received this book in the mail today :)

I even forgot that I ordered it. It's a beautiful book. I am now going to read it instead of the constitution.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus