Researchers Discover the Tallest Known Tree in the Amazon
by Jill Langlois Smithsonin.com
Sheer curiosity led Eric Bastos Gorgens and his team to the tallest tree in the Amazon. At 88.5 meters, or over 290 feet, the tree species Dinizia excelsa, or angelim vermelho in Portuguese, beat out the previous record holders by almost 30 meters.
The forest engineering professor and researcher at Brazil’s Federal University of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys (UFVJM), along with several other researchers from Brazil and the United Kingdom, was examining data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) when he noticed something out of the ordinary.
At first it was just a set of numbers on a screen that let the researchers know giants were growing in the Parú State Forest conservation area in the state of Pará. It took time and dedication to figure what the height measurements represented.
“It could have been a bird flying by, a tower, a sensor error,” says Gorgens, the lead author of a recent study about the trees published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. “So we started to look into what could have given us these numbers that were so far from standard. And as we started looking at the data more carefully, we realized they weren’t errors. They were, in fact, giant trees.”