The Wonders of Nature: World's Oldest
Updated: Sep 23, 2018
Human beings are a part of nature - not apart from it. Ancient cultures often incorporated this knowledge into their culture and practices. In modern times, though, we tend to proceed as if we are not wholly reliant on clean water, clean air and the "products" of plant and animal life alike.
It's sobering to consider that, on the Cosmic Calendar, that the first multicellular life occured on 5th December, the first primitive humans do not show up until 31 Dec at 22:24 (Sagan, 1977). So, life has been developing (and largely flourishing, with some catastrophic exceptions) long before man appeared and exerted his dominance. Even more astounding, there are exceptionally long-lived individuals found today that ought to bestow a sense of wonder and humility.
The world's oldest known vertebrate is believed to be the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus). Researchers believe that an individual may be 500 years old (392 +/- 120 years) (New Scientist, 2016). This means the birth of some currently living Greenland sharks may well coincide with Copernicus' proclamation that the Sun is the centre of the solar system.
In terms of plants, the world's oldest tree is estimated to be 5,062+ years old: a Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) (Live Science, 2016). At it's origin, therefore, people were first developing written languages in modern-day Iraq, while early agricultural practices were first being implemented in Northern Africa.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, 2015.
We ignore tree colonies here, whereby a shared root system connects many trees - these may be over 80,000 years old!
Reflecting on these specimens cannot fail to put things into perspective, and reinforce our obligation to act as responsible custodians of the wonders of nature around us.
Live Science, 2016. (Goldbaum, K.) "What is the Oldest Tree in the World?" [Accessed: 08.02.18] https://www.livescience.com/29152-oldest-tree-in-world.html
New Scientist, 2016 (zoologger). "World’s oldest vertebrate is a shark that may live for 500 years" [Accessed: 08.02.18] https://www.newscientist.com/article/2100823-worlds-oldest-vertebrate-is-a-shark-that-may-live-for-500-years/
Sagan, Carl. 1977 "The Dragons of Eden". Random House: New York
Wikimedia Commons, 2015. (famartin). By Famartin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons [Accessed: 08.02.18] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2015-07-13_08_39_39_A_Great_Basin_Bristlecone_Pine_along_the_North_Loop_Trail_about_6.7_miles_west_of_the_trailhead_in_the_Mount_Charleston_Wilderness,_Nevada.jpg