Special Report

Photos of the World’s Oldest Living Things

Among the organisms documented by photographer Rachel Sussman are 80,000-year-old aspen trees and 600,000-year-old bacteria

Welwitschia mirablis (Rachel Sussman)


(Rachel Sussman)
The llareta (also known as a yareta) a small flowering plant native to South America, grows just half an inch annually—but can live for up to 3,000 years. Sussman photographed this one in the Atacama Desert of Chile.

“Some of them have obvious physical grandeur,” she says of her ancient organisms, “whereas others are so diminutive that it’s only by taking into consideration their place in an extended timescale that their profundity starts to take hold.”

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