What is the oldest living thing on the planet? My first guess would have been the giant sequoia, which can grow to be several hundred feet tall and live to be several thousand years old. It turns out that the giant sequoia are relative youngsters in the grand scheme of things. Recently, a Tasmanian shrub, Lomatia tasmanica, was found to be 43,600 years old. Now a group of scientists have sequenced the DNA of posidonia oceanica, known as Neptune grass, a variety of sea grass that covers the ocean floor from Spain to Cyprus, and have found plants that apparently are 200,000 years old.
The bad news is that the research, which appears in the journal PLos ONE, cautions that rising water temperatures and coastal construction projects have slowed the seagrass’ growth and it’s dying out at a rate faster than it’s growing. The study warns that if trends continue “the outlook for this species is very bad.”