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43,000 year old Tasmanian plant King Lomita has just been usurped from its stature as the world's oldest living organism, by a bunch of nondescript looking seagrass that scientists believe have been around for at least 100,000 years, if not more.
The radical revelation was made by group of Australian and European scientists who took DNA samples of a giant seagrass called P. Oceanica from 40 underwater beds across a span of 3,500km - All the the way from Spain to the island of Cyprus. The test revealed plants that ranged from 12,000 years old to 100,000 years old. One particular batch, a 15-km long meadow found off the coast of Spain's Formentera Island, tested even further out - 200,000 years old or all the way back to the late Pleistocene era.
The team of scientists led by Professor Carlos from the University of Western Australia believes that the seagrass has been able to survive for what is an eternity, because they can reproduce clones of themselves, leading to hundred of acres of genetically identical plants.
While the plants spread really slowly, covering just 80 km in 600 years, they are extremely resilient and seem to have the ability to adapt to environmental changes - A secret scientists are hoping to unlock, by performing further in-depth analysis.
Also helpful in keeping them alive for so many years, is the lack of native competitors and major predators in the Mediterranean seabed where they thrive.
Sadly though, while the plant has survived all kinds of natural upheavals, it is no match against human activity. Over the last century, about 10% of the seagrass has been destroyed thanks to trawlers, coastal development and global warming. Hopefully, the new findings will result in more protection for this ancient segrass.
The other top contenders for the world's oldest organisms can all be found in North America and include a shrub called Box Huckleberry (13,000 years), desert plant Creosote Bush (11,000 years -see pic) and California's Quaking Aspen tree (10,000 years),
Resources: Telegraph.co.uk, guardian.co.uk, sciencedaily.com