Bristlecone pine

Doug Lucchetti shared the following anecdote in the comments following a TED talk given by Rachel Sussman:

The discovery in the 60s of the extreme age of some Bristlecones, ones that express strip growth as an adaptation to harsh cold dry conditions and grow specifically in otherwise inhospitable environments, is one of the most fascinating stories in modern field biology. The ancient tree was discovered by a geographer within the peri-glacial environment of Wheeler Peak, Nevada (now Great Basin National Park). In trying to increment-bore the tree, he got two valuable instruments stuck and had to cut it down to retrieve them. The rings could then be counted. Imagine everyone’s surprise to find out that what was the oldest living thing known at that time had been cut down by a scientist researching paleo-geography and climate change. The blunder was instrumental in preserving that area, and prompted wider studies in the new field of dendrochronology. Since then other species and examples of bristlecones have been found to be very old and older too, but the lesson itself is timeless.

Lucchetti is a sort-of cyber-raconteur, a man whose comments often bring together art, science, and environmentalism in interesting ways. He has a Facebook page with a wall visible to registered Facebook users. His profile picture is a snapshot of that somewhat disturbing Doggie Diner wiener dog.

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