What is the oldest living organism?

Rachel Sussman shows photographs of the world’s oldest continuously living organisms — from 2,000-year-old brain coral off Tobago’s coast to an “underground forest” in South Africa that has lived since before the dawn of agriculture.

Comments

  1. #1 Colin
    September 9, 2010

    Being pedantic: isn’t everything alive the oldest living organism? Life comes from life and, as far as I know, no new life has been created in quite some time. I think you have to get into the concept and definition of “individual” to define what I think they’re trying to entitle.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    September 9, 2010

    When an organism goes through phases of different ploidy there is a clean break, with a new individual emerging. Of course, that makes every sperm, egg, and pollen grain an individual, but that is a minor technical detail.

  3. #3 Virgil Samms
    September 9, 2010

    There’s something about the way you embed videos that my browser doesn’t like. The video doesn’t show, I see only a blank white space. Sometimes a few page refreshes brings it up, sometimes even that doesnt’ work. I see the same thing on some other scienceblogs.com sites as well. Firefox 3.6.7 on Fedora Linux.

  4. #4 Timothy Appnel
    September 9, 2010

    @Virgil Samms: I looked at the markup Greg used to embed this video from the TED conference site. He used the markup the content provides. I ddi some checking and there have been similar issues reported for your browser/OS combination with Flash content. Does this sound familiar?

    http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=246741

    If you need to follow up on this issue you can reach us through the webmaster address for this domain and we’ll look in to it further.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    September 9, 2010

    Virgil, thanks, I’ve handed the info over to the proper authorities.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    September 9, 2010

    Wow, that was fast. Looks like it may not be a Sb specific issue.

  7. #7 SimonG
    September 9, 2010

    I’ve had a similar sort of glitch, I think, with Ubuntu 10.04 & Firefox 3.6.8. Seems rather hit or miss. I’ll have to check if the number of tabs makes a difference. But it’s not an Sb problem, nor a specifically Fedora problem. It’d be interesting to know if users of Firefox under Windows have a similar problem.

  8. #8 Phil
    September 9, 2010

    They are still waiting for their computer to boot.

  9. #9 DuWayne
    September 9, 2010

    @7 –

    Never had a problem with windows, nor with Ubuntu.

    @8 –

    Not to be too much the asshole, but windows 7 actually boots quite a bit faster than Ubuntu on my laptop. If it makes it any better for you, my XP desktop boots Ubuntu a little faster. And Ubuntu is much easier to deal with than windows. The only reason I have kept 7 on my laptop is that Ubuntu doesn’t recognize my laptop speakers (it does recognize the speaker jack).

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    September 9, 2010

    Not to be too much the asshole, but windows 7 actually boots quite a bit faster than Ubuntu on my laptop.

    My wife has a laptop rated much faster than mine, with a fresh installation of Windows 7 on it. Typically, she turns hers on and i turn min on (Ubuntu). Mine boots up, she uses mine to check her email, does a couple of chores around the house, comes back and hers is just getting going. So, I guess it varies.

    Ubuntu doesn’t recognize your speaker jack? When was the last time you checked? That’s not likely to be an actual problem, just a perceived problem. What king of laptop?

  11. #11 casey rentz
    September 9, 2010

    So, what about something like a biofilm….would this count as a single living organism?

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    September 9, 2010

    Not in my opinion. A biofilm is a matrix of extracellular polymeric substance containing a herd of microbes, often of multiple species. So, a biofilm is analogous to a grazed grassland and the herd that grazed it. The antelopes are organisms, not the herd. The biofilm is not an organism.

  13. #13 DuWayne
    September 9, 2010

    Greg –

    I was just listening to my first mp3s for Russian this afternoon. They didn’t come through the speakers when I accidentally pulled my headphones out of the jack. When I first noticed the problem, I tried several different players and nothing made sound.

    I have a HP G62, with the AMD processor and 4gb of memory. The onboard speakers are Altec Lansing.

    I have desktop Ubuntu with several educational apps added on, including all of the Edubuntu packs (I want to run Edubuntu on the netbook for the boys, when I can figure out the bios and get it to boot). I haven’t gotten rid of anything that came with Ubuntu yet, though I intend to rid myself of some of the social networking crap.

    For the record, Win7 boots in under minute – completely ready to go. Ubuntu takes a bit more than a minute. But I also bought my laptop new in July.