BrainStuff Classics: What Is The Oldest Living Thing?



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Lauren bulk ObamaCare with a classic episode from the vault our earth while host Christian Sager is exploring a tangling question. What is earth's oldest living thing? Neighboring stuff Krishan Sager here. So as far as aging goes humans have it pretty good. I mean, we're no giant tortoises, but we're generally capable of living for decades some of us for more than a century here at brand stuff. It got us thinking, what is the world's oldest living thing. Well, that's a tricky question. And the answer depends on how we define living and thing, I let's tackle what we mean. By thing. If we say a thing could also be a clone will colony than the competition heats up quickly. There are numerous plant and fungal. Clone. Colonies that have been around for tens of thousands of years, and they're still barreling along. There's king clone the creosote Bush in the Mojave almost twelve thousand years old, and we can't forget pando the gigantic male quaking Aspen, colonial colony in Utah. He is about eighty thousand years old. Incidentally, he's also the heaviest living thing weighing in around six million kilograms. But what if we stick to sing? Single organisms if so then the tiny end lifts are strong contenders. These extrema file Methuselah like to kick back and take it easy for millions of years. They've lived a mile and a half below the ocean floor with metabolism slower than molasses only reproducing once every few centuries or millennia. I mean that makes pandas look like rabbits, there's a big let's call it loophole in the definition of living dormancy what if something was frozen in time trapped in stasis and then revived like captain America the alien in the thing in two thousand and eleven professor Brian Schubert published a paper on just that he discovered bacteria in what he called a kind of hibernation state inside tiny bubbles of thirty four thousand year old salt crystals. Other scientists have claimed to find older organisms such as the two hundred fifty million-year-old bacteria in southeast New Mexico. But Schubert's work was. Independently reproduced. So if we allow an organism to take a time out and spent thousands of years in stasis there are loads of competitors for the title of oldest living thing, many of which may still lurk undiscovered in the isolated hinterlands of earth. You know, deep oceans remote mountains, endless Arctic wastes. Now, I'm thinking of HP lovecraft well moving on. There's one other important thing. Some organisms might be immortal. Now, don't get jealous. We're not talking about some super sexy vampire type immortality. No. We're talking about jellyfish specifically hydra and the turritopsis Dory. The turritopsis is only four point five millimeters large, but capable of something that may be unique in the animal world after reaching sexual maturity, it can revert to its polyp stage, it can reverse and reset its aging cycle rendering it biologically, immortal, and the hydra doesn't seem to age at all. That means that potentially the oldest living organism could one day be a jellyfish. But for now, even counting states of dormancy, the oldest living continually active things on earth appear to be the extreme file organisms collectively called Endo Litz. But of course, there may be something older varied in time. Dormant waiting for intrepid humans to wake it from its deathly slump. Today's episode was written by Joan McCormick and produced by Tyler playing to hear more from Joe check out his weird science podcast stuff to blow your mind wherever you tuned podcasts. This vary up perhaps. And of course, for lots more on this and other well preserved topics. Visit our home planet. How stuff works dot com. I'm Katie golden. I studied psychology and biology at Harvard, and I pretend to be a bird on Twitter and my new podcast creature feature. We've you nature in man from a new perspective each episode asking a comedian to get inside the minds of animals, so we can explore the startling connections to human psychology, you'll find blood bands and treachery that make game of thrones seemed like a dumb show for babies. Join us every Wednesday and subscribe on apple podcasts for on the iheartradio app or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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