Older Than Religion

Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Quick Note | 5 comments

The Bristlecone Pine is a species of pine found in the USA that lives just below the treeline in the mountains of south-western USA. It survives in some of the harshest conditions encountered by any plant species; shallow soil, whipping winds, low rainfall, low temperatures. Despite this, the Bristlecone Pine is known to have the single oldest individual, non-clonal organisms in the world. There are specimens of Brisltecone pines that are nearly 5,0o0 years old, with may reaching in excess of 3,000 years.

If a tree were aware of the world on a large scale, imagine what this tree has seen. These individual trees are older than most religion which is practiced today, older than most philosophy we know of, older than Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed. These trees were saplings when the great pyramid at Cheops was constructed, when the first Trojan civilisation was formed, when Stonehenge was being constructed, and when papyrus was first being used as a medium to write on. These trees even pre-date the common use of bronze as a metal for weaponry. And yet for all they’ve seen, they sit stoically in their mountain home, never judging, and never telling.

These are mere babies when compared to the colonies of Quaking Aspen that inhabit much of the northern parts of North America, which has root systems that have lived continuously as a single entity or colony for up to 80,000 years. That is, the individual trees die off, but the roots send up new trees to replace them. These trees are actually nearly 10 times older than many Creationist accounts of the entire universe!

Compare this to the animal kingdom, where the oldest living creature is a mere 175 years old, a Galapagos Tortoise named Harriet, or the oldest living human, Jeanne Calment, who lived to see her 122nd birthday, and we really start to see how short lived we really are. Those lives are hardly a blip on the radar of the lives of these magnificent trees.

Plants are the true living fossils on this planet. Remember the Bristlecone Pine next time you think of where humans fit into our world.

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