Artist Rachel Sussman is obsessed with very old things that are still alive. Sussman has spent years researching the science behind each shot, tracking down researchers to find out what they know - and then figuring out exactly where she needs to head next. Many of the images are contained in her book, The Oldest Living Things in the World, in which she offers a crisp snapshot of a world that has lasted for millennia - sometimes against all of humanity’s best efforts. Here are some photographs from her book:
Mojave Yucca, California (12,000 years old)
The approximately 12,000-year-old creosote bush and Mojave yucca both have remarkable circular structures, pushing slowly outward from a central originating stem. New stems replace old ones, but they are all connected by the same clonal root structure.
Bristlecone Pine, California
Bristlecone pines are the oldest unitary organisms in the world, known to surpass 5,000 years in age.
La Llareta, Chile (2,000+ years old)
What looks like moss covering rocks is actually a very dense, flowering shrub that happens to be a relative of parsley.
Welwitschia Mirabilis, Namibia (2,000 years old)
The Welwistchia is a primitive conifer living only in parts of coastal Namibia and Angola. Despite appearances, it only has two single leaves, which it never sheds.
Antarctic Moss, Antarctica (5,500 years old)
This moss bank lives right around the corner from where the Shackleton Expedition was marooned 100 years ago. Getting there was no easy matter.
Stromatolites, Western Australia (2,000 - 3,000 years old)
Stromatolites are bound cyanobacteria; organisms that are tied to the oxygenation of the planet that began 3.5 billion years ago, setting the stage for the rest of all life on Earth.
Compiled by SG