At 13,000 years, tree is world's oldest organism

The Jurupa Oak tree first sprouted into life when much of the world was still covered in glaciers. It has stood on its windswept hillside in southern California for at least 13,000 years, making it the oldest known living organism, according to a study published today. —Independent

Reading this story reminded me of a story of a different tree. I heard it from the mother of two sisters I knew in high school… they were a State Department family and had spent 10 years living in various parts of Africa.  In the Tenere Desert, there was once a solitary tree, whose roots went down for hundreds of feet. It was the only landmark for miles around, and it was marked on maps that were otherwise almost completely blank. One day a truck driver hit the tree and knocked it down. The locals carried it away and propoped it up in a museum, and in its place put up a metal pole as a monument.

Something about this story really struck me when I heard it as a teenager. (See Arbre du Ténéré.)