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Researchers take an overview of some of the world’s oldest and most funky trees have bad news to report: Africa’s legendary baobabs die. The statistics get the most attention out of the new study in Nature Plants is that eight of the continent’s 13 oldest baobabs have died since 2005, and five of the six largest have suffered significant collapses.
The scientists can not say with certainty what happened, but they suspect that climate change—as in, higher temperatures and drought is the biggest culprit in the deaths in the whole of Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, reports the BBC.
Baobabs grow in an unusual way, often with cavities, making it difficult to estimate exact ages, but the research team says the trees in the survey range in age from 1,000 to 2,500 years, reports NPR.
“It is very surprising to visit monumental baobabs, with an age of more than a thousand to two thousand years, which seem to be in a good state of health, and to find them after a number of years has fallen to the ground and death,” study co-author Adrian Patrut of Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, says National Geographic.
And it is no fluke, he adds. “Statistically, it is almost impossible that such a large number of large, ancient baobabs die in such a short period of time by natural causes.” The stories note baobabs’ iconic place in African history.
In South Africa, a legendary baobab more than 1000 years old, grew to 111 yards and had a hollow so large that it functions as a pub for two decades.
The tree began to split up in 2016 and collapsed completely in the following year. (The Nazi’ s attempt to cloak his ship struck Norway trees.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Scientists Make Alarming About Old Trees