[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 40, Issue 20

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Apr 19 18:50:44 EDT 2006

Dear Bill,

>>HH: But this tree from the Methuselah Grove is apparently not that old.
>>The figure given is five thousand years in a PBS program. However, a
>>scientist has recently discovered one older, but I don't know how much:
>>HH: Actually the age seems to be 4,798 years for the well-known one:
>We're talking about different trees. The code of the one discussed in the
>URL immediately above is given in the article as WPN-114, which is a
>Wheeler Peak number. I'm talking about CA-535 as published by Donald
>Graybill in 1980. I downloaded a copy of the data less than three weeks
>ago. It has 7,980 annual data points. Graybill doesn't get a mention in
>the article in the URL.
>The point still stands. Those who wish to understand the text to support a
>view that the earth was created around 4,000 BC and underwent a literal
>Noah's flood are stuck with the uncomfortable fact that some trees are
>then older than the earth on which they grow and survived being under
>water for perhaps half a year or so.

HH: The article in the last link above talks about two trees and so can 
be confusing. The WPN-114 was named Prometheus, which was the oldest 
tree before it was cut down. The oldest now is called Methuselah, and it 
is discussed at the start of the article. Donald Graybill is mentioned 
in connection with Prometheus, as this excerpt from Wikipedia shows:

Prometheus however, grew in an area reachable only by off-trail hiking. 
In either 1958 or 1961, a group of naturalists who admired the grove in 
which the tree grew gave names to a number of the largest or most 
distinctive trees, including Prometheus[1]. The designation of WPN-114 
was given by the original researcher, Donald R. Currey, and refers to 
the 114th tree sampled by him for his research in Nevada's White Pine 
The ring count of a section of the tree by Currey was 4844. A few years 
later, this was increased to 4862 by Donald Graybill of the University 
of Arizona's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. However, the ring counts 
were done on a trunk cross section taken about 2.5 m (8 feet) above the 
original germination point of the tree, because the innermost rings were 
missing below that point. Adding in the years required to reach this 
height, plus a correction for the estimated number of missing rings 
(which are not uncommon in trees growing at treeline), it is probable 
that the tree was at least 5000 years old when cut. This makes it the 
oldest unitary (i.e non-clonal) organism ever known, exceeding the 
Methuselah tree of the White Mountains' Schulman Grove, in California by 
about 200 years.

HH: Both the link above and the Wikipedia article indicate that 
Methusaleh is the oldest bristlecone pine now that Prometheus is dead 
and gone. So does the PBS material. I searched for such information as 
you suggest and did find this:

My friends, C. W. Ferguson, V. C. LaMarche, Jr., Donald Graybill and 
Gary Funkhouserwere the scientists that extended the records of past 
climate from both the high and low elevation bristlecone pine thousands 
of years back in time to 6700 BC.

HH: But the article did not go into more detail. Maybe Dr. Graybill had 
some theoretical conclusions. I heard about dates going way back that 
rely on dates supplied by two different trees, so maybe it was something 
like that.

HH: For a consolation prize, I found this extremely interesting article, 
though it is not related to our topic, or even Hebrew:


Harold Holmyard

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list