The Oldest Living Things in the World

la llareta #0308-23b26 (up to 3,000 years old, atacama desert, chile)

The Oldest Living Things in the World is a fascinating ongoing project by photographer Rachel Sussman to document the world’s “continuously living organisms 2000 years old and older”. Her online gallery of images is filled with amazing things such as the 80,000 year old clonal colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah.

Sussman did a TED talk in 2010 where she discussed her interest in the world’s oldest living things.

The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of our past, a call to action in the present and a barometer of our future. They’ve survived for millennia in desert, in the permafrost, at the tops of mountains and at the bottom of the ocean. They’ve withstood untold natural perils and human encroachments, but now some of them are in jeopardy, and they can’t just get up and get out of the way. It’s my hope that, by going to find these organisms, that I can help draw attention to their remarkable resilience and help play a part in insuring their continued longevity into the foreseeable future.

welwitschia mirabilis #0707-22411 (2,000 years old; namib naukluft desert, namibia)

clonal quaking aspens #0906-4711 (80,000 years old, fish lake, UT)

underground forest #0707-10333 (up to 13,000 years old; pretoria, south africa)