Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire was the greatest power of the West, the New Testament was just a manuscript being typed up in some Ye Olde Starbucks, and the Partari Baobab tree was a svelt young sapling in the South African desert. Rachel Sussman has photographed this Baobab, along with Caribbean brain coral, lichens in Greenland, and a predatory Oregon fungus, all of which are two thousand years old or more, and have been compiled into an upcoming book to be released this spring, aptly titled The Oldest Living Things In The World.
"Climate change and human encroachment have put many [of these species] in danger," Sussman says in a short documentary chronicling her work (above), which is more-or-less an unofficial book trailer for her impending release. Many of the organisms she photographs have been alive for nearly 10,000 years, and some aspen trees in Utah have lasted 80,000 years. Informing the public about the danger posed to these ancients of planet Earth may be the only way to save them.
Sussman has worked with world-class biologists over the past decade to find and document these rare, resilient life forms all over the world, and even shared her project during a 2010 TED Conference. This new video clips stands out, though, because it gives viewers a crisp visualization of what these ancient lifeforms actually look like.
The Oldest Living Things In The World will be released on April 22 (Earth Day), accompanied by essays from art world legend Hans Ulrich Obrist and science reporter Carl Zimmer. Check out a few of the beautiful images of these timeworn plants below. Sussman's photos prove that lifeforms can still be gorgeous even if beyond ancient—age ain't nothin' but a number, after all.
See more at Rachel Sussman's website.