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Meet Europe's Oldest Living Inhabitant

Aug 20, 2016 01:38 AM EDT

Swedish dendrochronologist Paul J. Krusic led an international team of scientists on an expedition that discovered the oldest living inhabitant of Europe - a Bosnian pine that is more than 1,075 years old. The tree is joined by a dozen others that have also hit the millennium milestone.

"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 a news release.

This grouping of ancient trees are part of a forest high in the Pindos mountains. Krusic learned about the "interesting" forest a long time ago and was able to use that knowledge in his quest to find ancient living trees.

The age of the tree was determined using a common method to analyze tree rings called dendrochronology. 1,075 annual rings were counted in a core of wood taken from the tree.

Current methods allow a complete core to be taken without compromising the tree's health. A complete core consists of a section of the tree from the outside all the way to the center.

"I am impressed, in the context of western civilization, all the human history that has surrounded this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region. So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years" Krusic added.

The oldest living organism in Europe now has a name to befit its age. Scientists named the pine Adonis, after the god of beauty and desire in Greek mythology.

Researchers involved in the discovery are working on the construction of climate histories parsed from variations in the annual rings. The Navarino Environmental Observatory (NEO) conducted the expedition as part of their larger work studying climate change.

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