Lichen fields in the Namib

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Lichen fields are found in some of the most uninhabitable places on earth.

The red in the middle distance is lichen. This is in view of the ocean.

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This lot stands together against the elements.

A few bushes also manage to live here. They are closer to the ocean and the mist that spreads from there every morning. Every meter makes a difference, but even more than 100 km inland plants and animals still manage to survive on the moisture brought in like that.

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This colony of lichen lives between Swakopmund and Henties Bay, not far from Wlotzka’s Beacon.

There are hundreds of species here.

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The open crust of small stones that covers the surface of the desert here provides a habitat for the lichen, together with the morning fog and blazing sun.

Apparently some of the oldest living things on earth are lichens.

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They are a symbiosis of an alga, – that can photosynthesize to produce food, and a fungus that provides protection for the algae.

Many of them cannot survive without each other.

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The Russians took lichens into space and exposed them for long periods to the cold and the vacuum of outer space. They came back without any detectable damage. The lichens were also fine 🙂

So a mere desert is a walk in the park.

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Closer up

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Although they don’t often tell you, carbon dating is not very accurate. Within 500 years, it is in fact wildly inaccurate.

Lichen grows on plants and rocks and even within rock. It also grows at a set tempo. 0.5 to 2 or 3 mm per year, depending on the species. Slow, but set. So it can be used to accurately gauge at least it’s own age 🙂

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They are all beautiful,

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but my favourite is the ‘turkish delight’ variety.

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