The World's Tallest Tropical Tree Has Been Discovered In Borneo

The world's tallest tree is a redwood in Northern California called Hyperion, but the world's largest tropical tree goes to a tree found in the state of Sabah in Borneo. The record-breaking tree stands 94 meters tall, almost 310 feet.

The previous tallest tropical tree was found in 2016 in Malaysia. That tree was 89.5 meters tall. But that record didn't last very long. Since its discovery, about 49 trees have been discovered that were taller.

In November of 2016, Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institute for Science at Stanford University announced the discovery of the 94.1 meter tall tropical tree. The incredible part? This tree is actually not identified. So on top of being the tallest tropical tree, it's also likely a new species.

The tree belongs to the Shorea genus, but that's about all scientists can say for sure. Scientists have been mapping the Sabah forests with lidar technology aboard planes and helicopters. This is how the world's tallest tropical tree was discovered.

From a helicopter, they were able to calculate the height of the tree, as well as the tree's enormous canopy.

"This technique relies on the 500,000 laser shots per second that we fire out of the bottom of the plane as we fly, which provides a very detailed 3D view of the forest canopy down to the ground level," said Asner, speaking to Mongabay.  The same data are what we use to calculate how much carbon is stored throughout tropical forests."

Asner still acknowledges that, despite the incredible height of these tropical trees, they are still smaller than Hyperion, which stands a whopping 115 meters tall.

Image credit: Robin Martin, Carnegie Institution for Science

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