The world's oldest living tree on record is a nearly 10,000 year-old spruce that has been discovered in central Sweden, Umeaa University said on Thursday.
Researchers had discovered a spruce with genetic material dating back 9,550 years in the Fulu mountain in Dalarna, according to Leif Kullmann, a professor of Physical Geography at the university in northwestern Sweden.
That would mean it had taken root in roughly the year 7,542 BC.
"It was a big surprise because we thought until (now) that this kind of spruce grew much later in those regions," he said.
Scientists had previously believed the world's oldest trees were 4,000 to 5,000 year-old pine trees found in North America.
The new record-breaking tree was discovered in Dalarna in 2004 when Swedish researchers were carrying out a census of tree species in the region, Kullman said.
The tree's genetic material age had been calculated using carbon dating at a laboratory in Miami, Florida.
Spruces, which according to Kullmann offer rich insight into climate change, had long been regarded as relatively newcomers in the Swedish mountain region.
The discovery of the ancient tree had therefore led to "a big change in our way of thinking," he said.