Great Grandfather – 5,484-Year-Old Patagonian Cypress Could Be World’s Oldest Tree

Scientists in Chile believe that an ancient Patagonian cypress known as ‘Gran Abuelo’ (Great Grandfather) could be over 5,000 years old, which would make it the world’s oldest living tree.

The Patagonian cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides), known in South America as ‘alerce’, is a conifer native to Chile and Argentina. They belong to the same family as giant sequoias and redwoods, and can reach heights of up to 45 meters (150ft). They grow at a very slow rate and are known to live for hundreds, even thousands of years, but one particular specimen may be the oldest tree ever discovered. If the findings of a Chilean team of researchers are to be believed, Great Grandfather, an ancient Patagonian cypress in the Alerce Costero national park, is 5,484-years-old, a whopping 600 years older than Methuselah, the current world’s oldest tree.

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Cuban Painted Snails – Probably the World’s Most Beautiful Gastropods

Out of the roughly 1,400 species of land snails that call Cuba home, the six species of the genus Polymita, fondly known as painted snails, are without a doubt the most eye-catching.

When it comes to snail per se, there’s probably no beating the spectacular red-and-black contrast of the Malaysian fire snail, but as far as shells go, Cuba’s painted snails are in a class of their own. Just a look at the stunning swirling colors on their shells, and it’s easy to understand why they are considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful snails. However, this flattering title comes with a downside. Because their dazzling shells are so sought after by collectors, all six species of the genus Polymita are now critically endangered.

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This Weird Parasite Is The Only Known Animal That Can Survive Without Oxygen

Henneguya salminicola, a tadpole-like parasite that infects salmon, has a rather unique superpower Рit can survive without oxygen.

When examining Henneguya salminicola, researchers noticed something really strange: the microscopic parasite appeared to have no mitochondrial genome. The mitochondria, commonly known as “the powerhouses of the cell”, are organelles that rely on oxygen in order to produce energy. At first, scientists at Tel Aviv University thought it was a mistake, so they ran the analysis again, and confirmed that the parasite had no mitochondrial genome at all, meaning it did not generate energy the way all other known animals do. Although other single-cell organisms, like amoebas and fungi, have also developed the ability to survive in anaerobic environments, no animals – Henneguya salminicola¬†qualifies as one despite having less than 10 cells – had been known to do that until now.

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