What in the world killed some of Africa's oldest trees?

Africa's strangest trees are stranger than thought—and they're dying mysteriously

Nine of the 13 oldest African baobab trees, which range in age from 1,100- to 2,500 years, have suddenly died and some researchers are blaming climate change.

The Sunland Baobab, also known as the Platland tree, was the continent's biggest baobab, standing more than 60 feet high and more than 100 feet across. They can grow to be thousands of years old, and develop hollows inside so large that one massive baobab in South Africa had a bar inside it.

Speaking of the team's findings, Dr Adrian Patrut of Babeş-Bolyai University in Romania said: "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".

Southern Africa, where the researchers cataloged the trees, has already been heating up faster than the global average, and researchers with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say the region will see some of the most intense temperatures hikes and reduced rainfall on the continent.

Baobabs are "very hard to kill", according to Kruger National Park.

In the period between 2005 and 2017, the researchers found that five trees died in South Africa, four trees died in Namibia, three died in Zimbabwe and one tree each died in Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.

Known for its visually-striking shape, the baobab resembles an upside-down plant, with its branches looking like tangled roots reaching towards the sky.

Slovenia's Luka Doncic to remain in National Basketball Association draft
If the Suns do hang on to the No. 1 pick, it's expected that they'll select the seven-foot, 260-pound Ayton. If so, this is the trade package I would explore if I am the Clippers.

If climate change is truly the culprit, this is just the latest evidence of how our careless addiction to carbon is damaging the sensitive ecosystems around us in ways that could be irrevocable. Researchers said further research is necessary to support or refute that idea.

Trees usually have their age counted by tree-ring dating (dendrochronology), but Patrut says the unusual biology of baobabs prevents this. It stores huge quantities of water and grows fruit edible for both humans and animals.

Whatever the reason is, the death of these trees will have a huge impact in the southern African landscape. The baobab "is famous because it is the biggest angiosperm, and it is the most iconic tree of Africa", Patrut said. Its leaves are boiled and eaten as an accompaniment similar to spinach, or used to make traditional medicines, while the bark is pounded and woven into rope, baskets, cloth and waterproof hats.

The goal of the study was to learn how the trees get so enormous. The tree started to split in 2016 and collapsed completely the following year.

“(They do refer to other baobab mortality but dont have real data on it),” Lovejoy continued.

The iconic trees can reach almost 2,000 years of age. "There has also been a rapid increase in the apparently natural deaths of many other mature baobabs", authors say.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Id-El-Fitr: FG Declares Friday, Monday Public Holidays
Jun 13, 2018 - 22:01
The federal government has declared Friday, June 15 and Monday 18, as public holidays to mark this year's Id-el Fitr celebration. The ministry's circular means private sector workers with a Friday/Saturday weekend could potentially receive no extra days off.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top As Net Neutrality Ends, Activists Push Congress to Restore Obama-Era Rules
Jun 13, 2018 - 21:45
KFDX received statements from Congressmen Mac Thornberry and Jodey Arrington regarding net neutrality, provided below. And critics fear repealing them may see consumers charged extra for anything more than the most basic service.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top ‘There’s a special place in hell’ for Trudeau, White House adviser says
Jun 13, 2018 - 21:06
Mr Trudeau and the European Union have vowed to take retaliatory action next month over U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium. Reacting to the same, Kudlow said, "Trudeau really kind of stabbed us in the back".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Italy to Ferry Migrants It Rejected to Spain
Jun 13, 2018 - 21:02
Under global law, people rescued at sea should be brought to the nearest and safest port for assistance. The passengers had been rescued in six different operations , according to SOS Mediterranée.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Mars Opportunity rover is in danger of dying from a dust storm
Jun 13, 2018 - 20:58
NASA announced on Friday the suspension of science operations for the Opportunity rover while it waits for the storm to blow over. This led NASA to compare the situation on the red planet as similar to "an extremely smoggy day that blots out sunlight".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Newspaper: Former Panamanian president extradited home from US
Jun 13, 2018 - 20:43
They did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and their court filings were not publicly available at press time. The politician said that he is a victim of political persecution by the current President, a former political ally.

Sweet young years: toddlers are getting too much added sugars, CDC reports
Jun 13, 2018 - 20:33
However, the scientists behind the study are now planning on analyzing the products with added sugar that kids usually consume. The results revealed that 85 percent of the toddlers and infants studied were consuming added sugars in their daily diet.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Speaker John Bercow praises behaviour of a baby in the Commons
Jun 13, 2018 - 20:24
Mr Blackford was asking for the Commons to sit in private when he was called to ask a question during the weekly PMQs session. Such a complex endeavour is bound to complicate the agenda of Prime Minister Theresa May as she tries to negotiate Brexit .

Trump renews attack on OPEC ahead of group's production meeting
Jun 13, 2018 - 19:56
Since early 2017, OPEC and other oil-producing countries have agreed to reduce supply in a bid to bolster oil prices. Dutch bank ING, however, said some OPEC members would "struggle to push production back to October 2016 levels".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Disney releases teaser trailer for Tim Burton’s live-action ‘Dumbo’
Jun 13, 2018 - 19:43
Farrell, 42, plays Holt Farrier, seen above in an exclusive first look with Eva Green , who plays aerial acrobat Colette Marchant. There he meets the baby elephant Dumbo , who is mocked for his giant ears but is clearly destined for great things.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top British woman falls to her death 'taking selfie' in Portugal
Jun 13, 2018 - 19:09
The couple left Australia in January this year to go travelling and were in Portugal to attend a friend's wedding. Their bodies were found by a beach cleaner on Tuesday morning and a cell phone was found at the top of the wall.

Net neutrality rules officially repealed in US
Jun 13, 2018 - 18:41
Twenty-nine states have since introduced legislation, proposing reinstating some aspects of Net Neutrality. Barbara Underwood, New York's attorney general, noted that lawsuits opposing the repeal were still pending.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trump contradicts USA military stance on Korea war games
Jun 13, 2018 - 18:27
The DPRK holds off on any new nuclear and missile tests while the US and South Korea stop the "war games" (Trump's terminology). South Korea's Presidential Blue House said it needed "to find out the precise meaning or intentions" of Mr Trump's statement .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once
Jun 13, 2018 - 18:07
Any combination of up to three queries can be spoked to Google Home, as long as the word "and" is used between the queries. But as promised at I/O, Home can now understand the more natural "turn on the lights in the living room and the kitchen".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Photos of Prince George playing with toy gun spark heated debate
Jun 13, 2018 - 18:01
While the royal family enjoyed a relaxed afternoon, they sported more formal garb yesterday for the Trooping the Colour parade in London.