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Methuselah’s environment lacks nutrients, water, and oxygen. In other words, it’s the perfect place to grow very very old.
To learn more about this topic, start your googling with these keywords:
– Great basin bristlecone pine tree: a species of pine tree that includes many of the longest-lived individual trees on Earth.
– Bark beetles: the common name for a subfamily of beetles that has destroyed millions of acres of forest across the Western United States.
– Terpenes: waxy chemicals that increase wood density in certain pine trees.
– Bark morphology: a trait of certain bristlecones in which strips of exposed wood extend up and down the tree, allowing them to pass nutrients even when other parts of the trunk have died.
– Dolomite: a type of rock high in magnesium and calcium that turns into extremely alkaline soils.
– Extremophile: an organism that is tolerant to environmental extremes.
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Bentz, Barbara (2022). Personal Communication. Research entomologist, US Forest Service. https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/about/people/bbentz
Millar, Connie (2022). Personal Communication. Scientist emirata, US Forest Service. https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/about/people/cmillar
Ababneh, L. (2006). Analysis of radial growth patterns of strip-bark and whole-bark bristlecone pine trees in the White Mountains of California: Implications in paleoclimatology and archaeology of the Great Basin. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Analysis-of-radial-growth-patterns-of-strip-bark-in-Ababneh/6adfc3cc538f9988a10a96434c337c9c721434c0
Ross, A. (2020). The Past and Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/20/the-past-and-the-future-of-the-earths-oldest-trees
Karlamangla, S. (2022). In California, Where Trees are King, One Hardy Pine has Survived for 4800 years. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/08/us/pine-trees-bishop-california.html
Bentz, B.J., Hood, S.M., Hansen, E.M., Vandygriff, J.C. and Mock, K.E. (2017), Defense traits in the long-lived Great Basin bristlecone pine and resistance to the native herbivore mountain pine beetle. New Phytol, 213: 611-624. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.14191
Waldo S. Glock (1970). Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California: Growth and Ring-Width Characteristics, Arctic and Alpine Research,2:3, 227-229. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00040851.1970.12003577
Pennisi, E. (2016). Greenland Shark may live 400 years, smashing Longevity Record. Science. https://www.science.org/content/article/greenland-shark-may-live-400-years-smashing-longevity-record