The Mojave Desert’s King Clone: One of the World’s Oldest Organisms Resides Here

Unearthing Ancient Life: The 11,700-Year-Old Creosote Bush Ring ‘King Clone’ in the Mojave Desert

In the heart of the Mojave desert, there stands a creosote bush ring known as “King Clone,” believed to be one of the oldest living organisms on Earth. This clonal colony is made up of genetically identical plants that all trace back to a single ancestor, and is thought to have started growing around 11,700 years ago, approximately when human agriculture began.

To determine the age of the plant, researchers utilized two methods: measuring the rate at which the bushes grew outwards to form a ring, and radiocarbon dating to analyze the center of the ring. Both methods led to the conclusion that they were dealing with a very old bush indeed. Professor Frank Vasek, who dated the creosote ring, believed it was one of the first life forms to expand across the Mojave Desert after the last ice age.

While the original central bush has died, the surrounding bushes are direct clones of the original plant. Over time, the root system of

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