Cambridge University conservation scientists were scanning an area of forest in Malaysia’s Maliau Basin Conservation Area in Sabah, Borneo, when they saw a huge tree sticking out of the forest. They located the tree, a yellow meranti (Shorea faguetiana), on the ground and sent Unding Jami, a local tree climbing expert, to the top with a tape measure.
Jami texted down that the height of the globally endangered tree was 89.5 metres, a new world record for a tropical tree. This beats the previous record holder, an 88.3 metre yellow meranti in nearby Tawau Hills National Park.
The University press release explains Jami didn’t get a chance to take any good images from the top. “I don’t have time to take photos using a good camera because there’s an eagle around that keeps trying to attack me and also lots of bees flying around,” he texted.
While this meranti is very impressive for a tropical tree, it doesn’t come close to the record tallest tree in the world, which is currently Hyperion, a 115.7-metre (379.7-foot) coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in California’s Redwood National Park.
“Trees in temperate regions, like the giant redwoods, can grow up to 30m taller; yet around 90m seems to be the limit in the tropics,” explains lead Cambridge researcher David Coomes in the release. “No one knows why this should be the case.”