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Meet Adonis, Europe’s oldest living inhabitant

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Posted at 8:41 AM, Aug 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-21 08:41:54-04

Europe’s oldest living inhabitant goes by the name of Adonis, lives in the highlands of northern Greece and is over 1,075 years old.

No, the last part isn’t a typo — Adonis is a tree.

The millennium-old Bosnian pine was discovered by a group of scientists from Stockholm University, the University of Mainz and the University of Arizona, who announced their findings Friday.

It is one of more than a dozen individual trees over 1,000 years old located in a treeline forest high in the Pindos mountains near the Greek border with Albania.

The team took a core of its wood, which measured one meter in diameter, and counted the annual rings, determining it is the oldest known living tree in Europe.

It still lags a few thousand years behind the world’s oldest living tree. That distinction belongs to a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California over 5,000 years old.

But Adonis would have witnessed its fair share of history, including the Byzantine Empire at its peak as well as the subsequent rise and fall of the Ottoman empire.

The tree was 100 years old when Macbeth was crowned King of Scotland and was 750 years old when Isaac Newton formulated his laws of motion.

“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 3,000 years” said dendrochronologist Paul J. Krusic, who led the expedition.

The scientists hope to use variations in the rings to glean important historic details about climatic and environmental conditions going back hundreds of years.