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'Methuselah Tree' estimated thousands of years old

By Catholic Online
December 27th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the White Mountains of East California, a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, dubbed the "Methuselah Tree" is estimated to be about 4,800 years old. Named for the Biblical figure that lived for 969 years, the Methuselah Tree grows in the Methuselah Grove, which is in Inyo National Forest's "Forest of Ancients," where it is surrounded by trees of a like lineage.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The exact location of the Methuselah tree is a tightly kept secret to protect it against vandalism.

Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan first sampled the famous tree in 1957, declaring it to be about 4,789 years old. It is estimated that the tree germinated in 2832 BCE, making Methuselah the oldest known living tree and non-clonal organism in the entire world.

The date of 2832 BCE makes Methuselah older even than the Egyptian Pyramids! The Prometheus tree, another bristlecone specimen estimated to be 4,844 years old was accidentally destroyed in 1964.

Robert Mohlenbrock, a professor of botany at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, declared upon visiting the tree "that any organism that lived longer than the norm had to have optimal conditions going for it ... that would mean moderate temperatures, shelter from extreme weather, and plenty of moisture and nutrients."

Not so. Methuselah lives in a very inhospitable place for a tree. There are just patches of soil at the tree's extreme elevation and fierce winds blow.

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