In the peat bogs of New Zealand for more than 50,000 years, there have been gigantic trees, the so-called New Zealand kauri, or southern Agathis. Because of their size, people jokingly call them “trees growing deep into the earth.” Also, kauri trees are considered not only the largest, but also the oldest plants that have survived to this day, because they existed during the Jurassic period.
Southern agathis is a coniferous plant with a deciduous crown. On average, these giants reach a height of more than 130 feet and a girth of more than 30 feet. The record holder was a tree with a height of more than 160 feet and a trunk diameter of almost 45 feet. It was nicknamed Tane Mahuta, and radiocarbon dating showed it to be about 2000 years old. However, in comparison with others, it is still very young.
They began to be discovered relatively recently and immediately became a precious find. In fact, southern Agathis is still an existing species, which, according to various estimates, is about 150 million years old, and the northern part of New Zealand is considered their homeland. The size of modern kauries is impressive in itself, but some specimens found underground are even larger.
The oldest New Zealand kauri extracted from the bowels of the earth grew 30,000 and even 50,000 years ago. But how did all these giants get underground and be so well preserved after so much time?
The main hypothesis answering these questions is the theory of a powerful flood. About 50 thousand years ago, a natural disaster occurred – a strong hurricane or a very powerful earthquake that knocked down trees. Finding themselves under a layer of dirt in an oxygen-free environment, the trees retained their original appearance. Thousands of years later, this place became a peat bog.
This environment is very favorable especially for organic matter, something like natural conservation. Archaeologists often find ancient artifacts in pristine condition in swamps and all because of the small amount of oxygen, without which the process of oxidation and destruction is impossible.
Thanks to such conditions, despite its age, the wood has not lost its properties. The New Zealand authorities undoubtedly understand this as well as its cost. They did not rot or petrify, therefore, ancient kauries are now actively exported to the best furniture factories in Italy, where the most fashionable designers make furniture of incredible beauty that can safely be called works of art.
For example, one of the most expensive products made from kauri wood is a table, the cost of which is 1,890,000 euros or more than 2.074.000 dollars.
But this price is not justified by the age of the wood alone. The fact is that kauries grows very slowly – in 40 years they will barely be higher than the average human height. To grow to the size of those giants that emerge from the swamp, kauries grew for more than two thousand years.
In addition, during the colonization of New Zealand by England, these behemoths were actively cut down, which is why at some point there were very few of them left and now they are are under state protection. But even this may not save the species from extinction in the future, because sudden climate change on the planet has a very acute effect on their growth.
Extracting ancient trees from the depths of the earth is not only very profitable, but also difficult as you have to use heavy equipment and hire a lot of people. Not to mention the fact that the matter can be very dangerous, because one slump can weigh up to 150 tons.
In addition, before you start mining, you will have to go through bureaucratic hell and pay a large sum to obtain a license from the country’s authorities. And not everyone is given them, because each tree is considered unique and is a national treasure, because in fact, New Zealand kauries are also a natural resource.
These thousand-year-old giants are a real gift for humanity. A similar phenomenon does not occur anywhere else on the planet, which makes them even more unique and incredible. And although today you can still find living kauries of the same size, the fact that they are more than 50,000 thousand years old is simply amazing, because they look as if they were cut down quite recently.
Such “trees growing deep into the earth” are just another proof of how interesting and full of mysteries our planet is.