King Billy pines don’t really look all that impressive — they’re not the biggest, prettiest or widest of trees — but they can tell us a lot about our history. Athrotaxis selaginoides, known as King Billy or King William pines, are endemic to Tasmania and found throughout the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. The trees, which are actually conifers but not pines, have been used in an eight-year study by an international research team to understand the environmental history of Australia. Kathy Allen from the University of Melbourne led the research team and said the process sampled living and dead trees. …The samples were then combined into what is called a tree ring chronology which dates back 1,700 years.