After three years of planning, five expeditions and a two-week trek through dense jungle, scientists have reached the tallest tree ever found in the Amazon rainforest, a towering specimen the size of a 25-story building. The giant tree, whose top juts out high above the canopy in the Iratapuru River Nature Reserve in northern Brazil, is an angelim vermelho (Dinizia excelsa) measuring 88.5m tall and 9.9m around — the biggest ever identified in the Amazon, scientists said.
Researchers first spotted the enormous tree in satellite images in 2019 as part of a 3D mapping project. A team of academics, environmentalists and local guides mounted an expedition to try to reach it later that year.
However, after a 10-day trek through difficult terrain, exhausted, low on supplies and with a team member falling ill, they had to turn back.
Three more expeditions to the reserve’s remote Jari Valley region, which sits at the border between the states of Amapa and Para, reached several other gigantic trees.
However, the enormous angelim vermelho remained elusive until the expedition last month, when researchers traveled 250km by boat up rivers with treacherous rapids, then another 20km on foot across mountainous jungle terrain to reach it.
One person on the 19-member expedition was bitten by what the team doctor believes was a poisonous spider.
It was worth it, said forest engineer Diego Armando Silva of Amapa Federal University, who helped organize the trip.
“It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Just divine,” Silva said. “You’re in the middle of this forest where humankind has never set foot before, with absolutely exuberant nature.”
After camping under the massive tree, the group collected leaves, soil and other samples, which would be analyzed to study questions including how old the tree is — at least 400 to 600 years, Silva estimated — why the region has so many giant trees and how much carbon they store.
Around half of the weight of the region’s giant trees is carbon absorbed from the atmosphere — fundamental in helping curb climate change, Silva said.
However, despite its remoteness, the region’s giants are under threat. Angelim vermelho wood is prized by loggers, and the Iratapuru reserve is being invaded by illegal gold miners infamous for bringing ecological destruction, Jakeline Pereira from environmental group Imazon said.
“We were so thrilled to make this find,” Pereira said. “It’s super important at a time when the Amazon is facing such frightening levels of deforestation.”
The past three years has seen average annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increase by 75 percent from the previous decade.
Over a few hours under gray skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of US military power in some of the world’s most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs such as “Fozzie Bear,” “Pig Sweat” and “Bongoo” emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago. US Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is commanding the group, said the tour
RISING RISK: With no communication between nations flying jets closely over the South China Sea, one mistake by a pilot could quickly escalate a situation, an expert said The China Coast Guard (CCG) maintained near-daily patrols at key features across the disputed South China Sea last year, ramping up its presence as tensions over the waterway with Southeast Asian neighbors remain high, new tracking data shows. Patrols in the waters surrounding the Vanguard Bank off Vietnam, an area known for its oil and gas reserves and the site of repeated standoffs between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels, more than doubled to 310 days last year, the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said. The number of days Chinese ships patrolled near Second Thomas Shoal (Renai Shoal, 仁愛暗) in the Spratly Islands (Nansha
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
‘DISTURBING’: Nearly half of 16 to 21-year-olds assumed that girls either ‘expect’ or ‘enjoy’ sex which involves physical aggression, such as airway restriction One in 10 children have watched pornography by the time they are nine years old, according to “disturbing” new research by the children’s commissioner for England. The report found that one-quarter of pupils in their final year of primary school had already been exposed. It also showed much of the material being consumed by children and young people featured violence. Four out of five (79 percent) of those surveyed had seen pornography involving violence by the age of 18, while one in three young people have actively sought out depictions of sexual violence such as physical aggression, coercion and degradation. The report, by