×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Australian Scientists Discover 'Oldest Living Thing On Earth'

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the sorry-dad's-television dept.

Australia 172

New submitter offsafely writes "Scientists in Australia have discovered the oldest living life-form to date: a small patch of Ancient Seagrass, dated through DNA sequencing at 200,000 years old." Says the linked article: "This is far older than the current known oldest species, a Tasmanian plant that is believed to be 43,000 years old." What I want to know is, How does it taste?

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

172 comments

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955475)

They found subby's mom?

wow (5, Funny)

irussel (78667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955483)

And here i was thinking they were talking about Joan Rivers...

You're saying Joan Rivers is still alive? (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955931)

Dude. Can we talk?

Re:You're saying Joan Rivers is still alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956123)

Hottest 78 year old you're ever likely to meet.

Re:You're saying Joan Rivers is still alive? (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956451)

I watched the Superbowl halftime show. I've SEEN the oldest living thing on earth, and it was DANCING.

Re:You're saying Joan Rivers is still alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956657)

I watched the Superbowl halftime show. I've SEEN the oldest living thing on earth, and it was DANCING.

You've seen the oldest thing on Earth which is still hot. There's a difference.

BS Summary and Article title (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955507)

the seagrass has been able to reach such old age because it can reproduce asexually and generate clones of itself. Organisms that can only reproduce sexually are inevitably lost at each generation, he added.

So actual news story is that Australian scientists have decided that a clone of an organism is the same organism, although they are not the same organism.

On a less snarky note, the article says it's the oldest living species. Which is a completely different story.

Re:BS Summary and Article title (1, Funny)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955617)

TY, you beat me to it.

It's almost like saying I'm 80,000 years old because I inherited a gene from a Neanderthal.

Re:BS Summary and Article title (4, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955769)

I'm sure you wife will think that explains it all.

Re:BS Summary and Article title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956081)

well, that's why journalist/reporter also means news-maker.

Re:BS Summary and Article title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956765)

You're not the time, Kenf! You're not the time!

Re:BS Summary and Article title (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955861)

No, it's like saying you're 80,000 years old because a Neanderthal with the amazing ability to grow back both halves when cut up like a sea star/starfish has left you behind.

But don't take the Telegraph article too seriously: they couldn't even get the species name correct. (There's an 'a' on the end that's missing.) Here's the journal article in PLoS ONE [plosone.org] .

Re:BS Summary and Article title (5, Informative)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957317)

There's pretty much no way these colonies can be 200,000 years old. During the last ice age, 15,000 years ago, the sea level was about 400 feet lower. That means that during the Ice Age, these seagrass meadows would have been on dry land, and you'd have regular old grass, not seagrass. There were literally Neanderthals and wooly rhinoceros walking around on this terrain. I was curious how the authors could possibly have missed this; it turns out they didn't; the Australian news article just does a bad job of summarizing the research.

From the PLOS article:

The scenario of a km-range spread achieved exclusively through clonal growth requires that the clones reach a minimum age of about 12,500 years. Applying the same estimates to the genets shared between the two pairs of meadows, located 7 km apart between Formentera and Ibiza and 15 km apart around a cape in Formentera (Fig. 3), yields a minimum age estimate between 80,000 and 200,000 years, projecting the origin of the clones well into the late Pleistocene. Although there is no biologically compelling reason to exclude this possibility, we consider it to be an unlikely scenario because local sea level changes during the last ice age (from 80,000 to 10,000 years) would place these sampling locations on land (the sea was 100 metres below its present level).

Anyway, it just drives home the point- if you really want to understand the issue, go back to the source material, not the media summary that was done on a tight deadline. It raises a question though- if seagrass really grows that slowly, how do you get these vast colonies? One possibility is storms. Since seagrasses are in nearshore environments, that means that storms can tear them up; currents can then pick up and move the plants, perhaps for miles. Every once in a while, some of those uprooted plants might luckily get transplanted into a hospitable habitat down current, and you can get a single colony rapidly spreading out over a huge area. Effectively, the plant could seed itself without actually using seeds.

Re:BS Summary and Article title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955881)

Right, I think they are trying to knock the Pando off the top of the clonal plant colonies list

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_long-living_organisms#Clonal_plant_colonies

Re:BS Summary and Article title (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955947)

This argument holds no water. Your cells replace almost completely every few years, does that make you a different organism than before?

Already slashdotted, it seems (1)

mpbrede (820514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955509)

Can't reach the site. Boohoo.

Re:Already slashdotted, it seems (2)

AC-x (735297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955671)

Works fine here, must just be your connection. I don't think Slashdot traffic will be taking The Telegraph's website down any time soon :)

Telegraph? Oh, wrong wires. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956601)

I don't think Slashdot traffic will be taking The Telegraph's website down any time soon

Oh, so that's the problem. We got rid of our telegraph connection when we got the telephone box on the wall with the crank to ring Tessie to connect us to another phone box.

Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (4, Informative)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955511)

Just to be clear, the actual plant isn't nearly that old. The original plant that started the cloning process was 200,000 years old.

Re:Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955573)

So are they the same plant or not? If a clone has a mutation or a transcription error is it really the same plant? Or did they have no transcription errors?

Re:Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955963)

Transcription errors are inevitable in small quantities, but in general plant clones are considered one organism. Since we humans don't (except in severe obesity) generally grow by spreading around, it's hard for us to understand sometimes exactly what's going on here, but what happened is that the plant just kept putting down more roots and foliage, gradually covering a large area of the ocean floor. Then, chunks died off. It's not like it's some kind of sporing or budding process; except due to accident, the parts of a huge plant like this are always connected. Wikipedia's being unresponsive right now, but the largest trees and fungi in the world work the same way—and since their roots are buried way down underneath so much soil, we're not sure if they're still connected or not.

Re:Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956571)

Hmmm all true, i can't disagree.... I think in terms of organism though, I would call them a separate organism if the connection is servered. Otherwise, its all just one plant. A single fungus can kill both parts if its connected, a single bacteria. The parts can share nutes or signaling hormones...one plant.

Once its severed, and each part lives or dies of its own accord. then.... separate organisms.

So... all the Navel orange trees, despite being clones, are their own organism. However, a forest of bamboo....all a single plant.

Re:Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956661)

This colony is believed to have clonal members hundreds of kilometres across. Makes it difficult to figure out exactly how divided up they are... and also makes you wonder if we should even bother drawing the distinction.

Re:Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956809)

I guess I haven't been paying attention. The last I knew there was a 20,000 year old fungus in the Upper Peninsual of Michigan that was supposed to be the oldest single organism. Didn't realize that they were now counting plant clones as being the same as the original plant.

Re:Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957045)

Okay I can see that if they grow by runners. I was thinking they produced seeds asexually too make "clones". If somehow the roots or runners where cut then do they become two individuals? If so then does that mean that for some plants the distinction is just mechanical in nature and not genetic? I would also assume that they would tend to evolve more slowly than other organisms since their only mechanisms for change are transcription errors in the cloning process.
Sorry if my questions seem a bit dim. Out of all the sciences I took biology was my least favorite.

Re:Clone Wars (or Sensationalist Headline) (1)

jeffeb3 (1036434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956929)

I think most cells in the body are replaced on a regular basis. So are how old are you? By your standard, you are only a couple months old. Bodies are constantly copying cells, and if we could survive like the brooms in fantasia after being chopped into little bits, then I would say that's pretty close to asexual reproduction.

200,000 Years Old? (5, Funny)

omganton (2554342) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955529)

This "scientific discovery" directly conflicts with my belief that the entire universe is only 6000 years old.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (3, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955737)

The only reasonable conclusion is that scientists are heretics and must all be killed.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955817)

Time has been speeding up since 6000 years ago. The earth used to go around the sun once every million years.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955855)

Came here to see immature jab at conventional christian belief. Leaving satisfied.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956613)

Strange how an immature jab is indistinguishable from an earnest profession. It's almost as if the beliefs themselves are patently immature.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

Serif (87265) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955955)

This "scientific discovery" directly conflicts with my belief that the entire universe is only 6000 years old.

It's 6016 years [wikipedia.org] (give or take a year), and I agree this so called "scientific discovery" offends religious beliefs and so all articles about it on the interwebs should be removed immediately!

I'd write more about it, except I've got to get back to drawing my cartoons of Muhammad and writing rude limericks about the Thai royal family.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956019)

Mother nature called. She said that was very quaint and reminded humanity as a civilization that it would not be getting any dinner for the next five hundred years unless it smartened up, bathed, and cleaned its room, and stopped making excuses about imaginary friends that live in the sky.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956461)

Mother nature called. She said that was very quaint and reminded humanity as a civilization that it would not be getting any dinner for the next five hundred years unless it smartened up, bathed, and cleaned its room, and stopped making excuses about imaginary friends that live in the sky.

--
I am a biologist. Ask me questions in my journal. I'll give car/computer analogies if possible!

That didn't sound like a car analogy to me...

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956599)

Borrow the car?! Borrow the car?! How about cleaning your room, young man? You can't receive guests, much less alien civilizations, in a mess like this!

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957293)

Mother nature called. . . , and stopped making excuses about imaginary friends that live in the sky.

As opposed to imaginary friends that run nature (and complain about certain margarine brands, as I recall)?

This is Ford complaining about the propriety of GM producing Corvettes that can reach double the maximum speed limit, and announcing that they will be reintroducing the Shelby GT, in the same announcement (to give the required car analogy).

Re:200,000 Years Old? (2)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956069)

If someone says something is >6,000 years old, you should take that to mean, "God gave it an apparent age of X-6000 years at creation".

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956685)

Don't worry. They didn't say it was 200,000 years old. They said according to their measurements it appeared to be 200,000 years old. Once they get past a certain date, they don't have any documentation of how old something is and they are simply relying on one set of measurements to confirm another set of measurements.

I'm sure they did their best and were very very careful, but in the end the measurements are still based on assumptions that have no empirical proof. I'm not saying they are wrong, I'm just saying that their information is resting on a theoretical foundation that you have to just accept in order to proceed.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956943)

That theoretical foundation that you have to just accept seems to be fairly solid, in that it's the very same theoretical foundation that they build integrated circuits, nuclear bombs and particle accellerators on. Religion on the other hand is resting on fact-free foundation of faith which is frequently in direct contradiction with actual scientificly established fact. Whoops, I'm late for church, better go so that I don't get sent to hell.

Re:200,000 Years Old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38957009)

I expected this obvious post here, but not so soon, and not modded so high. I'm surprised four people found it funny.

I bet it tastes like... like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955535)

mmmmmmmmmmurder. ;P

How do you define age though? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955587)

It might be the same genetic organism as from 200,000 years ago but is any part of that single organism alive today actually that old? Or are we just talking 200K years since its DNA was last involved in sexual reproduction?

Re:How do you define age though? (5, Funny)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955795)

Or are we just talking 200K years since its DNA was last involved in sexual reproduction?

Oh, that reminds me! My wedding anniversary is coming up soon...

Re:How do you define age though? (2)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955841)

That's a good point, but you know, if some human's body managed to survive 200,000 years by regenerating all of its cells in a configuration that allow it to remain almost unchanged in appearance and function over that time period, you might well consider that human to be 200,000 years old, even though not one atom of the human is the same as that of their body when they were in their first century of life.

If we define an individual as a process instead of as a static object, you can come up with different results for what you consider to be an individual. After all, even if not every part of us is recycled constantly, I'd say that most humans are not the same components that they were at any time in the past. Even the cells that don't go through normal cell division and death are probably made up of entirely different molecules and atoms than they had when you were born.

Endangered? (5, Interesting)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955595)

FTA:

But Prof Duarte said that while the seagrass is one of the world's most resilient organisms, it has begun to decline due to coastal development and global warming. "If climate change continues, the outlook for this species is very bad," he said.

But if it's 200k years old, hasn't it already survived some serious climate change?

Ssshh , don't mention that! (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955685)

Much as I tend to agree with the global warming consensus , that particular type of sentence does unfortunately have a habit of appearing in a lot of enviromental/biological pieces these days. It seems to be almost a standard issue cut and paste warning that [insert species here] will be affected by climate change unless we DoSomethingNow(tm). And in so doing devalues any serious debate.

Re:Ssshh , don't mention that! (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956075)

It's actually addressed meaningfully in the journal article [plosone.org] . I won't quote the section at you since that would be spam, I've already done it, and I'm just compulsively replying to people because people being wrong on the Internet is clearly the noblest cause ever, but there you go: it is, in fact, the rate of change in environmental conditions, not merely that it's occurring.

Re:Ssshh , don't mention that! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956379)

A guy is driving down the highway at 100 MPH. He's told that a sudden stop at this speed will kill him. "Nonsense," he says. "My speed has been 0 MPH before, and I didn't die then."

Re:Ssshh , don't mention that! (3, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957107)

it is, in fact, the rate of change in environmental conditions, not merely that it's occurring.

Which would be weird, given the rate of current change is rather modest compared to the Dansgaard–Oeschger events and other natural climate fluxuations over the past 200K years, particularly in the Mediterranean basin.

Don't get me wrong: I'm (mildly) skeptical about AGW (I'm a computational physicist and a great deal of climate modelling is done by climatologists who are decidedly not computational physicists) but this running about in panic in response to the issue du jour is just sad. Not everything is caused by or related to the global climate change, and it really does cheapen the debate and coarsen the public's response to events when Every Single Thing is immediately related to (and blamed on) climate change.

I'd think it far more likely that any trouble this species is in is due to the profound ecological changes in the Mediterranean in the past century due to pollution and over-harvesting of fish and whatnot, but where's the sexy big-issue "society is to blame" in that?

Re:Endangered? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955721)

It's not the temperature, it's the rate.

Re:Endangered? (2)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955943)

There has been at least one, and possibly a few supervolcanic eruptions in 200,000 years. The sharp climate change rate due to those would have made current global warming trends look like statistical noise in comparison.

That's not to say that humans can't affect species in specific ways all their own, but that requires the "standard climate disaster" warning to be modified to make that clear or some skeptics will start to have a point about the lack of rigor in statements coming from some scientists.

Re:Endangered? (3, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955765)

But if it's 200k years old, hasn't it already survived some serious climate change?

That was different. We're talking about man made climate change, which is obviously much worse and must be stopped.

Re:Endangered? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955847)

In a sense, correct. Human-induced climate change threatens to happen far faster than natural climate change, over a period of decades or centuries rather than tens of millenia. That type of sudden shift doesn't occur naturally short of a globally significent event like a supervolcano eruption.

Re:Endangered? (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956575)

In a sense, correct. Human-induced climate change threatens to happen far faster than natural climate change, over a period of decades or centuries rather than tens of millenia. That type of sudden shift doesn't occur naturally short of a globally significent event like a supervolcano eruption.

So have there been any supervolcano [wikipedia.org] eruptions in the past 200,000 years that should have killed this plant off?

I'm not trying to debate the merits of global warming here. I'm just agreeing with the ancestors of this post who say that trying to pull the global warming debate into every single things is BS.

Re:Endangered? (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956039)

It says the following in the journal article [plosone.org] :

Nevertheless, even though such phenotypic plasticity possibly evolved across millennia, it may well be challenged by the unprecedented rate of environmental change imposed by current global climate change [55], including temperature increase and ocean acidification, and recent anthropogenic pressure on coastal areas resulting in changes in water quality, eutrophication, and nutrient load, particularly in seagrass meadows [56].

Please spend the rest of the day in silent introspection.

Re:Endangered? (2)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955877)

Yes, but previous changes took centuries and millenia, not decades. Species, even asexual ones like this, can adapt to slow change fairly well. Rapid change is generally catastrophic.

Re:Endangered? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956631)

There's been plenty of dramatic short term changes too, like the Little Ice Age. Climate change, over the history of the Earth, happens at all manner of timescales - it's not the smooth(ish) sinusoidal wave many mistakenly view it as. Study this graph [wikipedia.org] , which shows just the last two millenia for multiple examples.

Re:Endangered? (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957071)

Look at the post just above mine. The temperature is NOT the only thing that's changing. This thing is getting hit with a dozen major changes to its lifestyle simultaneously, and all of them are proceeding at a pace far above the normal rate of change. These changes are also long-duration ones, not short-term crisies that can be waited out like a volcano eruption or El Nino.

Re:Endangered? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957197)

Yes, but previous changes took centuries and millenia, not decades

Really?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dansgaard%E2%80%93Oeschger_event [wikipedia.org]

"In the Northern Hemisphere, they take the form of rapid warming episodes, typically in a matter of decades, each followed by gradual cooling over a longer period. For example, about 11,500 years ago, averaged annual temperatures on the Greenland icepack warmed by around 8 C over 40 years, in three steps of five years (see,[2] Stewart, chapter 13), where a 5 C change over 30-40 years is more common."

Please stop spreading nonsense. There are plenty of legitimate concerns regarding human impacts on the environment (and AGW is amongst them, although much over-rated in my view.) But false and hysterical claims do no one any favours. What humans are doing to the current environment doesn't have to be the Worst Thing Ever to be really quite bad enough to do something about it by changing your own lifestyle to be more sustainable.

Re:Endangered? (1)

munch117 (214551) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956097)

But if it's 200k years old, hasn't it already survived some serious climate change?

Sure it has. And every time it's been like playing russian roulette with 5 live rounds, and most of its peers have been wiped out. And now there's only this little patch left, and we're putting 5 rounds in the chamber once again. It may be particularly resilient, but it may as well just have been lucky.

Re:Endangered? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956249)

FTA:

But Prof Duarte said that while the seagrass is one of the world's most resilient organisms, it has begun to decline due to coastal development and global warming.

"If climate change continues, the outlook for this species is very bad," he said.

But if it's 200k years old, hasn't it already survived some serious climate change?

Nope, sorry. Humans have only been causing climate change for about 100 years or so now.

Re:Endangered? (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957359)

My thoughts exactly. But it's very proper and liberal to bring up climate change every time we talk about nature. (sigh)

Wrong (2)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955629)

First lets get this out of the way "Obligatory Dick Clark comment"

These plants haven't been cloning perfectly for 200,000 years, there is drift and errors in cloning too.

Re:Wrong (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955679)

First lets get this out of the way "Obligatory Dick Clark comment"

These plants haven't been cloning perfectly for 200,000 years, there is drift and errors in cloning too.

So is that why a billion year old amoeba supposedly doesn't count?

Re:Wrong (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956197)

Newsflash: clones are never perfect anyway. The thing is, they've been physically attached this entire time. A plant 'clonally reproducing' is nothing more than one organism putting up a bunch of completely redundant backups. It may or may not partially die off due to an accident, but the thing is that it's a single network that's been fragmented by the passage of time, not an organism deliberately reproducing. Since the distinction where one organism ends and the next begins is a made up human one, you probably shouldn't waste your time trying to figure it all out. You should know, however, that biologists consider this to be or have been one organism.

Re:Wrong (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957349)

Since the distinction where one organism ends and the next begins is a made up human one, you probably shouldn't waste your time trying to figure it all out.

So exactly the same as every other distinction, then?

All edges are imposed on the world by human attention, and nothing else. Consider the distinction between "land" and "water". In some contexts we simply treat the edge between them as ideal. In other contexts we introduce other concepts: beach, littoral, intertidal zone, and so on. But when you get close to it you notice that the edge is both constantly fluctuating and "soft": the "land" is always a bit wet. Where land ends and water begins is a made up human distinction. This is generally true, with the exception of quantum phenomena where there are genuinely forbidden "gaps" between states (which is one of the things that makes quantum phenomena weird: we are not free to make up distinctions in a way that is most useful to us in a given context.)

species != organism (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955631)

Saying "older than the oldest known species" is silly, since we can be pretty sure from both fossil and genomic evidence that modern humans have been around for about 200k years, and we're a pretty young species. "The current known oldest organism" would have been better.

OTOH ... think about this for a moment. This plant came into existence around the time the first true humans were born. For all of human history, both the few thousand years of which we have records and the much longer span of which we don't, it's just been sitting there under the sea in its little patch of ocean, doing its thing. That's pretty damn cool.

200k Years Old? (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955647)

According to TFA, the researchers "found the seagrass was between 12,000 and 200,000 years old and was most likely to be at least 100,000 years old." That's a rather large range of uncertainty to be definitely saying that the species/organism is 200,000 years old as the summary does. Very likely still much older than the runner-up (at 43,000 years old), but let's not jump to assumptions.

New submitter offsafely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955667)

>What I want to know is, How does it taste?
New submitter offsafely is Naked Snake, and I claim my five pounds.

Great, it's been found... (1)

cmdr_klarg (629569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955691)

Now get the hell off of it's lawn!

Re:Great, it's been found... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955801)

It is it's own lawn.

Re:Great, it's been found... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955915)

That's how it got to live so long.

Looks like a disk, a black flap, and a scorpion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955693)

n/t

In related news (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955709)

The Australian government found a terrorist threat in an ancient patch of seagrass. In a statement to the media the Secretary of Defense stated: "We do not know where this seagrass comes from, it has no official documentation. It is not a recodnised form of sentient life so we eradicated it." The seagrass was promptly dispatched by pouring 30,000 barrels of crude oil over it supplied by Haliburton.

Has a flavor (5, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955729)

How does it taste?

Well, if nothing's eaten it in 200ky, then it must taste pretty crappy.

Re:Has a flavor (4, Informative)

F34nor (321515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956157)

http://ctext.org/zhuangzi/tree-on-the-mountain [ctext.org]

Zhuangzi was walking on a mountain, when he saw a great tree with huge branches and luxuriant foliage. A wood-cutter was resting by its side, but he would not touch it, and, when asked the reason, said, that it was of no use for anything, Zhuangzi then said to his disciples, 'This tree, because its wood is good for nothing, will succeed in living out its natural term of years.' Having left the mountain, the Master lodged in the house of an old friend, who was glad to see him, and ordered his waiting-lad to kill a goose and boil it. The lad said, 'One of our geese can cackle, and the other cannot - which of them shall I kill?' The host said, 'Kill the one that cannot cackle.'

Next day, his disciples asked Zhuangzi, saying, 'Yesterday the tree on the mountain (you said) would live out its years because of the uselessness of its wood, and now our host's goose has died because of its want of power (to cackle) - which of these conditions, Master, would you prefer to be in?' Zhuangzi laughed and said, '(If I said that) I would prefer to be in a position between being fit to be useful and wanting that fitness, that would seem to be the right position, but it would not be so, for it would not put me beyond being involved in trouble; whereas one who takes his seat on the Dao and its Attributes, and there finds his ease and enjoyment, is not exposed to such a contingency. He is above the reach both of praise and of detraction; now he (mounts aloft) like a dragon, now he (keeps beneath) like a snake; he is transformed with the (changing) character of the time, and is not willing to addict himself to any one thing; now in a high position and now in a low, he is in harmony with all his surroundings; he enjoys himself at ease with the Author of all things; he treats things as things, and is not a thing to them: where is his liability to be involved in trouble? This was the method of Shen Nong and Huang-Di. As to those who occupy themselves with the qualities of things, and with the teaching and practice of the human relations, it is not so with them. Union brings on separation; success, overthrow; sharp corners, the use of the file; honour, critical remarks; active exertion, failure; wisdom, scheming; inferiority, being despised: where is the possibility of unchangeableness in any of these conditions? Remember this, my disciples. Let your abode be here - in the Dao and its Attributes.'

My translation?

"If you want to live to be 200,000 years old, don't be anyone's bitch."

"12,000 [to] 200,000 years old" (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38955739)

That's some pretty big error bars you're rocking there.

Just the same stunt as carbon daters have been pulling for years: keep sending in samples until the lab either gives get a range that agrees with the thesis you've already written or book that you're trying to sell, or you run out of funding.

Re:"12,000 [to] 200,000 years old" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38955917)

As a historologist, I can say with absolute certainty that the parent post is somewhere between 10 minutes and 15 googleplex years old.

Re:"12,000 [to] 200,000 years old" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38956045)

Do you have a single fact to back that up?

Re:"12,000 [to] 200,000 years old" (1)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956605)

You mean:

...found the seagrass was between 12,000 and 200,000 years old and was most likely to be at least 100,000 years old. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

The original article has wording that's more precise (http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0030454):

...The scenario of a km-range spread achieved exclusively through clonal growth requires that the clones reach a minimum age of about 12,500 years. Applying the same estimates to the genets shared between the two pairs of meadows, located 7 km apart between Formentera and Ibiza and 15 km apart around a cape in Formentera (Fig. 3), yields a minimum age estimate between 80,000 and 200,000 years, projecting the origin of the clones well into the late Pleistocene.

No Doctor Who references??? (1)

DBCubix (1027232) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956371)

This is Slashdot, come on it is obvious Dr. Who was found down under wrestling a disembodied Dalek crocodile or Rupert Murdoch as one of the Cybermen.

Old Clam (1)

Barney_Stinson (2569291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956441)

I read about a clam that was found off the coast of Iceland that was ~412 years old and I thought that was crazy. That was an eye blink compared to this.

You do realize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38957095)

The word thing and living are mutually exclusive. The word thing should only be used to describe objects that are "not living"

Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38957175)

The world was only made 6000 years ago, how the hell can something be 100,000 years old? I call bullshit.

Global warming? (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38957343)

"As the water warms, the organisms move slowly to higher altitudes. The Mediterranean is locked to the north by the European continent. " How many times has the climate changed in the last 200,000 years? Blaming threats to the grass on civilization, sure, but it seems to be able to cope with ice ages and warming spells just fine. (sigh)
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...