Scientists have just discovered the oldest living thing in Europe

Scientists have just discovered the oldest living thing in Europe

A tree discovered in Greece dates back to the Byzantine Empire, and it's helping scientists learn a lot about the climate.

Researchers have stumbled upon something extraordinary in a barren part of northern Greece: a scraggly tree that has seen many human empires come and go. It has been dated to an astonishing 1,075 years old, making it the oldest living thing ever discovered in Europe.

It’s a Bosnian pine, and scientists used a process called dendrochronology to measure its age. The scientists took a core of the tree without damaging it, and then were able to estimate its age based on the number of rings it has, according to a Stockholm University statement.

Swedish dendrochronologist Paul J. Krusic led the project. He once read a thesis about a forest in Greece that might hold a tree such an age, and decided to look for himself. He took a team and searched, and found this tree. And it’s not just for curiosity’s sake: it could help scientists understand climate histories better, as such old trees provide a rare glimpse into the distant past.

The researches named the tree Adonis, after the Greek god of youthful beauty, as a joke. The tree is so old that it was born in the midst of the Byzantine Empire, and it has seen many empires come and go in Europe. The scientists were surprised it could live in such an inhospitable area for so long.

“It is quite remarkable that this large, complex and impressive organism has survived so long in such an inhospitable environment, in a land that has been civilized for over 3000 years,” Krusic said in the statement. “Many years ago I read a thesis about this very interesting forest in Greece. In our research, we try to build long chronologies to construct climate histories, so finding living trees of old age is one of our motivations. To age the tree, we needed to take a core of wood, from the outside to the center. The core is one meter and has 1075 annual rings.”

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