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History! YUCK! After hours of memorizing facts (in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue), you are faced with a test that includes dates in column A and world events in column B, and if you want to pass you match them up...

But wait! History books only tell you who won the battle or who got elected or who made something happen that changed the course of the world. History books rarely include floods or drought or fire or other things that change the way a day or a year went.

To find out about that, you need trees—and you need people who can read the stories that trees can tell. Those people are called dendrochronologists.

Dendrochronologists at the University of Arizona have been talking to the oldest tree in Europe. Its name is Adonis and it is a pine tree. Adonis lives in the highlands of Greece and is about 1,075 years old. This means Adonis was a baby (seedling) in the year 941. The research- ers know Adonis' age by counting the rings in its trunk. They anticipate learning from Adonis more about the climate in Greece and the Balkans and gaining new insights into Europe's environmental history. It is amazing to find a tree that old in a part of the world that has been populated for more than 3,000 years.

Most trees in Europe have been cut down to build houses and ships and other things humans make out of wood. We have bristlecone pines in North America that are 3,000 to 5,000 years old because we have not been heavily populated nearly as long. Worldwide, only 10 percent of old-growth forests are still standing. It is important for us to conserve these remaining trees as they carry secrets about the history of our planet.

October 2016