Oldest tree discovered

Recognize. If you’re keeping score at home it’s fossilized Wattieza tree 380 million years old, the bible 5,000 years old? I’m just saying. Okay, okay, kidding aside, this is pretty staggering. According to Discovery, the fossil in New York was discovered back in 2004 and its significance is only just being understood.

I’m guessing they had Angus McGiver’s help in this matter:

Racing against the clock ? for the quarry was about to be dug out to provide stone for road repair ? the pair used an industrial saw, a pickup truck and a manual engine hoist to extract the 440-pound specimen.

After gaining authorization to continue collecting at the site, the following year they dug out a tree trunk of the same species, extracting it fragment by fragment and reassembling it like a 26-foot-long fossilized jigsaw puzzle.

Eschewing the traditional buttoned-down prose of scientific journals, the team describe the specimens in their paper as quite simply “spectacular.”

The Wattieza hails from the Middle Devonian period, from 397 to 385 million years ago, a critical time in the evolution of early land plants.

The Middle Devonian was an incubator era, giving rise to a whole range of reproductive strategies among plants and the precursors of leaves for photosynthesis.

When these specimens of Wattieza were alive, terrestrial life in that area was limited to small arthropods, a class of life that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans.

“The trees preceded the dinosaurs by 140 million years,” one of the authors, palaeontologist Ed Landing, said. “There was nothing flying, no reptiles and no amphibians.”

Consider my mind blown. Behold the glory of the oldest living tree!

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