April 8th, 2008


oldest tree on earth

Our plant friends don't get enough love around here, I think, and considering their age, the Grove of the Ancients is owed a little respect where it's due. The Grove of the Ancients is an area that's home to a group of bristlecone pine trees, and one of their number holds the record for being the oldest living tree and the oldest living thing on Earth. In order to protect this botanical senior citizen, its actual location is carefully concealed so as to guard it against vandalism.

However, guests are welcome to walk through the grove, and in my own opinion it's a wonderful and humbling experience, to think that your lifespan is just a handful of seasons to these living things.

"Every single tree in the Ancient Forest is at least 4,000 years old, many reach 4,500 years and the oldest one – Methuselah – has a confirmed age of 4,768 years which secured its place in the Guinness Book of World Records. In order to protect Methuselah from souvenir hunters and people who would just 'love it to death,' the forest service does not disclose its location. It only hints that Methuselah is on of the trees right along the trail in the Ancient Forest. So, we took pictures of the most magnificent trees along that trail. Rest assured that each and every one of them is older than any other tree you have ever seen and that one of them is Methuselah."

"An older specimen, WPN-114 and nicknamed Prometheus, was more than 4,844 years old when cut down in 1964 (estimated germination date 2880 BC). Another tree, approximately 4,600 years old, is still living. A dendrochronology, based on these trees and other bristlecone pine samples, extends back to about 9000 BC, albeit with a single gap of about 500 years." There are a handful of these guys spread out along the trail, and everyone tends to pick their favorite as to whom they think might be the most likely candidate as the oldest living non-clonal organism on the planet Earth:

So if this tree could tell you what it's like to be that old, what would it have seen?

These trees have some serious character, even after they pass on, and are most definitely a national treasure.

Wild turkeys attack mail carriers

This story mentions some interesting things about aggressive turkey toms. For one, they like to go after mail trucks. For another, they've gotten used to being sprayed with water, so it is no longer a deterrent. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any pictures of soaking wet birds tearing after postal workers to go with this story.
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Seal on a leash

cute fuzzy baby albatross eaten alive by mice! :O

I was reading about house mice on Wikipedia and thought this piece of information was rather wtf:
Gough Island in the South Atlantic is used by 20 species of seabird for breeding, including almost all of the world's Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) and Atlantic Petrel (Pterodroma incerta). Until house mice arrived on the island in the 19th century with seamen, the birds did not have any mammalian predators. The mice have since grown unusually large and have learned to attack albatross chicks, which can be nearly one metre tall but are largely immobile, by working in groups and gnawing on them until they bleed to death. The estimated 700,000 mice on the island kill a total of over 1 million bird chicks per year.

A short video of mice gnawing on chick:

More infos:
Gangs of house mice have been caught attacking and killing seabirds 300 times their weight on an island in the South Atlantic Ocean. House mice (Mus musculus) were thought to pose little risk to island birds, until now. Video footage exposes tiny house mice as they invade the nests of young chicks and proceed to gnaw through chicks' feathers and skin before gorging on their entrails. One video showed up to 10 mice mauling an albatross chick and eating from three open wounds on its body.

Though the mice are three times larger than their European cousins, weighing as much as 1.41oz (40g), they are dwarfed by the fledgeling sea birds that have become their prey. An albatross chick weighs up to 22lb, some 250 times the weight of the rodents.
The birds, however, are virtually immobile and must be protected from attack by adults, who spend many hours away fishing for food. The mice gnaw the live chicks, their wounds become infected and they die. “It is like a tabby cat attacking a hippopotamus,” said Geoff Hilton, a senior research biologist with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).