The oldest living organism on Earth just happens to be seagrass in the Mediterranean Sea, which was recently discovered through DNA samples by an Australian scientist.
The researcher has declared the seagrass as the oldest living organism on the planet that could date as far back as 200,000 years, as the results are published in PLosOne.
Previously, it was a Tasmanian plant that was believed to be about 43,000-years-old. Now according to the analysis done on 40 patches of giant seagrass tested from Spain to Cyprus, the results show that some patches date somewhere between 12,000 and 200,000 years-old and some are believed to be at least 100,000 years-old.
According to University of Western Australia professor, Carlos Duarte, The seagrass has been able to sustain for such a long time due to the fact, that is reproduces asexually and can generate clones of itself.
“They are continually producing new branches,” Duarte said. “They spread very slowly and cover a very large area giving them more area to mine resources. They can then store nutrients within their very large branches during bad conditions for growth.”
However Duarte warns due to global warming and coastal development the patches of seagrass are being threatened.
“The seagrass in the Mediterranean is already in clear decline due to shoreline construction and declining water quality and this decline has been exacerbated by climate change. As the water warms, the organisms move slowly to higher altitudes. The Mediterranean is locked to the north by the European continent. They cannot move. The outlook is very bad,” Duarte says.