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Mystery as Africa's oldest trees suddenly die


Posted on Tuesday, 12 June, 2018 | Comment icon 13 comments

Baobab trees can grow to enormous sizes. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 ACEI Cheung
Several of the trees, which date back thousands of years, have abruptly died off within the last decade.
Scientists have been struggling to determine why the baobab trees, which can grow to the width of a bus and are so old that they were alive during the time of the ancient Greeks, have now perished.

The most likely explanation is that they have fallen victim to the effects of climate change.

"We report that nine of the 13 oldest... individuals have died, or at least their oldest parts/stems have collapsed and died, over the past 12 years," the researchers wrote.

"It is definitely shocking and dramatic to experience during our lifetime the demise of so many trees with millennial ages."

"[We] suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular."

Baobab trees can live for up to 3,000 years and a single trunk can shelter up to 40 people.

With only a few of the largest and oldest baobab trees still remaining in Africa, getting to the bottom of the mystery of what is killing them will now be of the utmost importance.

Source: Phys.org | Comments (13)

Tags: Baobab, Trees

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by TripGun on 12 June, 2018, 15:53
I agree that climate change is too easy to say, more likely a poisoned food source. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Echoes on 12 June, 2018, 19:19
Probably ate at a McDonald's - that causes anything to die off. Even if it is a bloody tree. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by A rather obscure Bassoon on 13 June, 2018, 1:21
They got old and died, where's the big mystery. As quoted in the article speculation.
Comment icon #7 Posted by A rather obscure Bassoon on 13 June, 2018, 1:34
In what way? Things live and then they die, is it not the way the Universe rolls.
Comment icon #8 Posted by qxcontinuum on 13 June, 2018, 3:42
They died in the same time or historically within the same century. I also blame climate change but that being said how are the youngest doing ?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Piney on 13 June, 2018, 9:52
I watched too many trees die off do to invasive insects and diseases.  I watched whole mountains disappear and turned into ashy moonscapes Desert and prairie become stripmines. Old forest get logged out.  The loss of wilderness is depressing  for someone who lives and works in it. 
Comment icon #10 Posted by krone on 13 June, 2018, 17:18
In the past 100 years, climate change increased... pollution increased... lots of trees suddenly died... lots of bees suddenly fell out of the sky... lots of fish suddenly washed up on the shores. But sure, let's just call it a 'mystery' rather than a probable consequence of over-consumption, overpopulation and overdevelopment by humans.
Comment icon #11 Posted by krone on 13 June, 2018, 17:22
Interesting how you managed to completely avoid raising the subject of manmade pollution in this post. Can't recall any point in history when plastics, PCBs, mercury, microfiber etc. were being dumped into the air, land and water in such vast amounts. Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with all these 'mystery' die-offs?
Comment icon #12 Posted by Jon the frog on 13 June, 2018, 17:26
They probably installed some well in the area and pumped water a lot faster than the recuperation time, causing water level in the ground to drop drastically causing the tree to die. Seen that, common cause of tree dying in arid area.
Comment icon #13 Posted by AllPossible on 26 June, 2018, 17:29
Ya because carbon monoxide filled the air hundreds of years ago & Atomic weapons were going off periodically. You got to be a little off. Trees filter the air so when you say hmm who cares your forgetting about what there purposes are. They were also shelter to people. Not like the concrete structure you get to live in lol maybe your just bitter


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