By John Vlahakis

The oldest living thing on earth is being threatened by climate change and man- made development.  Scientists recently conducted DNA sequencing on samples of giant sea grass found in the Mediterranean.  Samples were taken from 40 different underwater meadows that stretched over a 2,000-mile span from Spain to Cyprus.  The analysis, published in the journal PLos ONE, found the sea grass was between 12,000 and 200,000 years old and was most likely to be at least 100,000 years old. This is far older than the current known oldest species, a Tasmanian plant that is believed to be 43,000 years old.  The sea grass has been able to reach such old age because it can reproduce asexually and generate clones of itself. Organisms that can only reproduce sexually are inevitably lost at each generation.  The separate patches of sea grass in the Mediterranean span almost 10 miles and weigh more than 6,000 tons.  Sea grass is one of the world’s most resilient organisms, it has begun to decline due to coastal development and global warming, according to the scientists working on the DNA project from the University of Western Australia.  Professor Carlos Duarte from the University of Australia stated, “The sea grass 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.”

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Posterous
  • Mixx
  • LinkedIn
  • del.icio.us
  • Add to favorites
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Print
  • email