Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Norwegian Wood For The Ages: 'Mummified' Pine Trees Found

Date:
October 18, 2009
Source:
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Summary:
Norwegian scientists have found "mummified" pine trees, dead for nearly 500 years yet without decomposition.

This three grew from 1334-1513.
Credit: Terje Thun, NTNU

Norwegian scientists have found “mummified” pine trees, dead for nearly 500 years yet without decomposition.

Norway’s wet climate seems perfect for encouraging organic matter to rot – particularly in Sogndal, located on Norway’s southwestern coastline, in one of the most humid, mild areas of the country. In fact, with an average of 1541 millimetres of rain yearly and relatively mild winters, Sogndal should be an environment where decomposition happens fast. Not so.

“We were gathering samples of dead trees to reconstruct summer temperatures in western Norway, when our dendrochronological dating showed the wood to be much older than expected”, says Terje Thun, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Museum of Natural History and Archaeology. Thun conducted the work with his colleague Helene Lψvstrand Svarva.

From a time before the Black Death

“We were astounded to find fresh wood in trees that started to grow in the late 1200s and had died almost 500 years ago, which is much older than we originally expected. Somehow they have kept from decomposing for several centuries in this humid climate”, Thun says. “This is quite extraordinary - I would go as far as to call it sensational.”

Thun says that when a pine tree dies, it secretes a great deal of resin, which deters the microorganisms needed for decomposition. “Nevertheless, preventing the natural breakdown of the wood for centuries is quite a feat”, he says. Thun is one on Norway’s leading dendrochronology experts. Dendrochronology is the dating of trees.

Used in mummification

Resin was one of the ingredients used in Ancient Egypt for mummification, so its conservation abilities have been known for millennia. However, that trees could “self-mummify” in such a humid climate for centuries was new to the NTNU scientists.

“Many of the trunks we dated turned out to have seeded in the early 1200s, and had lived for more than 100 years at the time of the Black Death around 1350”, Thun says. “That means that the dead wood has ‘survived’ in nature for more 800 years without breaking down.”

It seems there truly is something good about Norwegian wood.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "Norwegian Wood For The Ages: 'Mummified' Pine Trees Found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014210431.htm>.
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). (2009, October 18). Norwegian Wood For The Ages: 'Mummified' Pine Trees Found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014210431.htm
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "Norwegian Wood For The Ages: 'Mummified' Pine Trees Found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014210431.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins