This week, hundreds of thousands of people shared a story from fake news site World News Daily
claiming that loggers had accidentally cut down the world's oldest tree in the Amazon forest. The tree was said to have been a giant Samauma tree over 5,800 years old and 40 meters tall (130 ft). As with everything published by World News Daily
, the story was not true. Nevertheless, it certainly sounded plausible to a lot of people who expressed their outrage on social media.
World News Daily
Samauma trees (Ceiba pentandra
) do grow very large, reaching heights of 200 feet, and they are found in South America, but they're not known to live longer than 200 years.
Trees that actually will reach ages of 5000 years and above
are the Great Basin bristlecone pines of California and Nevada.
The image that accompanied the World News Daily
article, and which definitely aided its plausibility, was taken by Brazilian photographer Ricardo Funari
in 2011 as part of a series on Amazon deforestation.