A study has found that the world’s oldest tree might be located in a green forest in southern Chile and could be more than 5,000 years old.

Since the tree has a massive trunk, the scientists have been unable to determine the tree’s exact age. To determine a tree’s age, scientists usually extract about a metre cylinder of wood to count its rings, however, the trunk of the particular tree is over 4 metres in diameter.

Leader of the study, Jonathan Barichivich, said the extracted sample suggests that the tree is up to 5,484 years old.

He said:

“This method tells us that 80% of all possible growth trajectories give us an age of this living tree greater than 5,000 years. There is only a 20% chance that the tree is younger.”

If the estimated age is accurate, the tree would beat the 4,853-year-old record holder, a pine tree located in California.

Barichivich said:

“If one compares it with the trees already dated where we count all the rings, it would make it one of the oldest living trees on the planet.”

Barichivich said he is concerned about the tree’s perseverance in the Alerce Costero National Park due to visitors often leaving the observation platform and stepping on the tree’s roots, while some of them even take pieces of its bark.

To prevent damage, he says that trees of a similar importance in the US have their location unreveiled.

Barichivich encourages people to “think for a fraction of a second about what it means to live 5,000 years”.

[Based on reporting by: Reuters]

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