Pacific Science Center

Bringing science to life.

PacSci-Doku: “Really Old”

By Dennis Schatz – Senior Advisor

Do you Sudoku? It’s one of the hottest number games around! Well, here’s a twist we think you’ll love. We call it PacSci-Doku. Can you guess why? Here’s how it works. Instead of filling in the blanks with numbers, we use letters. Hidden in one of the columns or rows is the answer to a science question. You’ll find information about the answer on the answer tab below.

The question in this edition is:

What is one of the oldest organisms in the United States?

To find the answer, complete this PacSci-Doku using the following nine letters:

U  u  A  a  O  J  K  P  R

PacSci-Doku: Really Old

Puzzle Difficulty: Medium

The Answer

PacSci-Doku: Really Old

The question in this edition is:

What is one of the oldest organisms in the United States?

The answer: Jurupa Oak

The 75-foot-wide Palmer’s oak, known as the Jurupa Oak because it exists in the Jurupa Hills of Southern California, is thought to be 13,000 years old. This is 10,000 years older than the California redwoods and 8,000 years older than the California bristlecone pines. While this is likely the oldest plant in California, is it still a youngster compared to the quaking aspens in Utah at 80,000 years old, and the holly of Tasmania at 43,000 years old?

How is it possible for these to exist for so long? The secret is they make clones of themselves. The original plant spreads by sending out new shoots genetically identical to the original plant. So even if the original portion of the plant dies, it continues to exist. This is why the Jurupa Oak can be 75 feet across and 13,000 years. Read more about the Jurupa Oak.

Rachel Sussman, a photographer and artist spent many years taking photos of the oldest organisms on the Earth. You can read more about her quest in Nautilus, a publication of sciences, culture and philosophy.