New research shows that the world's oldest tree may have been standing for hundreds of years.
A new computer model suggests that the ancient giant known as the "Gran Abuelo" may be over 5,000 years old.
The Gran Abuelo would become the oldest tree in the world if that date can be confirmed.
The gold standard for determining a tree's age is incomplete due to the fact that the alerce's exact age is not certain.
The model's underlying data has not yet been made public.
Jonathan Barichivich is a climate and global ecology scientist at the Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory in Paris and the researcher who created the model.
The tree is in poor condition due to tourism and climate change.
There is a question about the world's tallest tree.
It was thought that the Gran Abuelo was 3,500 years old. Scientists never analyzed its age in a systematic way.
The goal was to tell the story of the tree so that it could be protected.
2,465 years' worth of tree rings were captured by the nondestructive technique used by Barichivich and Antonio Lara in 2020.
Many of the alerce tree's growth rings can't be counted because the borer couldn't reach the center of the tree.
The team created a mathematical model to account for the remaining years of growth. Variations in growth rate are included in the model.
The model was used to model the tree's growth trajectory. Predicted ages for the Gran Abuelo were given by those simulations.
The tree was thought to be around 5,000 years old by the model. There was an 80 percent chance that the tree was at least 4,100 years old, and that it was the oldest tree in the world.
He said that the tree couldn't be younger than that if it was a very fast grower.
A biological law known as the growth-lifespan tradeoff is one of the factors suggesting that the tree is very old. Slow-growing species are more likely to live longer. Even though alerce trees are long-lived, they grow incredibly slowly.
Some tree-dating experts were wary of using modeling data to estimate a tree's age.
Ed Cook is a founding director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University in New York.
The future of the tree is in doubt.
The ancient tree has been encircled by a narrow platform walkway that is crushing its last living roots, and tourists that come to see it every year do further damage when they walk on it.
The alerce has been damaged by climate change and the 10-year dry spell.
To protect the Gran Abuelo from further damage, Barichivich and his colleagues have proposed placing a veil of net 10 feet high around the tree. He told Live Science that they recommend moving the walkway far away from the root system.
There are related content.
The world's largest tree is not known.
The original article was published by Live Science. The original article can be found here.