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‘Oldest Living Thing On Earth’ Threatened By Climate Change

‘Oldest Living Thing On Earth’ Threatened By Climate Change

Scientists working in the Mediterranean recently discovered what is thought to be the oldest living species on Earth: a patch of giant seagrass, Posidonia oceanic, growing in underwater meadows that span more than 2,000 miles between Spain to Cyprus.

Australian scientists sequenced the DNA of samples of the giant seagrass and found that it was most likely to be around 100,000 years-old, although it could be up to 200,000 years-old. If you were able to dig up the entire meadow of seagrass, it would weigh more than 6,000 tons.

The research, recently published in PLoS One, means that this ancient seagrass trumps what was previously believed to be the world’s oldest living thing: a Tasmanian plant that is believed to be 43,000 years old.

The seagrass has the ability to generate clones of itself, and send them out as satellites. Using this method, the grass can slowly grow to cover vast areas of the ocean floor.

Researchers say that these findings call for further research on these life history traits associated with clonality, considering their possible ecological and evolutionary implications, but that may not be possible.

Unfortunately, coastal development (like offshore drilling) and climate change could spell the end of this resilient plant species.

“The seagrass in the Mediterranean is already in clear decline due to shoreline construction and declining water quality and this decline has been exacerbated by climate change,” Prof. Carlos Duarte, from the University of Western Australia, told the Telegraph. ”As the water warms, the organisms move slowly to higher altitudes. The Mediterranean is locked to the north by the European continent. They cannot move. The outlook is very bad.”

Related Reading:

World’s Rarest Coral Discovered In Pacific Ocean

Bizarre Worm-Eating Flower Discovered In Brazil

New Bird Species Discovered In Hawaii

Image Credit: Flickr – NOAA Photo Library

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109 comments

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5:44AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

Act before losing everything

1:29PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

:( why must we destroy everything?

5:32AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

WE NEED TO BEST UNDERSTAND - ALL THAT IS "ON" EARTH - IS IN FACT, ALL OF EARTH. NO ONE CAN CLAIM TO FAME, THE "OLDEST" AS IT IS ALL RELATIVE TO ONES' PERCEPTION. THAT NEEDS TO BECOME AN ACCEPTED FACT BEFORE ALL ELSE. NO ONE KNOWS (AT THIS TIME IN SPACE) WHAT END IS UP. THE ONES CONSIDERED MOST WISE OF YESTERYEAR AND TODAY DO NOT KNOW; ALL WE KNOW IS WE DO NOT KNOW.

6:52PM PST on Mar 1, 2012

I'm curious what the deniers think that causes these phenomena!

3:50AM PST on Feb 17, 2012

We should look for a new earth, or finally start respecting that we have here and now. Every living species has an infinite value of the scientific, is a source of medicines, interesting solutions and examples for human. Unfortunately, much has been destroyed and we will never know fully what nature itself offers us :(

8:37AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

DIDN'T KNOW THIS, THANKS!

5:44AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Thank your for the artical. When will the human race as a whole realize that global warmingclimate change is a major problem?

4:34AM PST on Feb 14, 2012

Is there anything that some men are not looking to destroy?

Interesting article...

10:49PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

noted.

6:33PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

not surprised, will the human race wake up in time-now THAT will surprise me :(

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