DNA extracted from the ancient permafrost at the northernmost point of Greenland revealed that two million years ago, temperatures in the arctic region were far warmer than they are today and that the area was teeming with wildlife. Previously, scientists had only been able to go back one million years.
According to an abstract published this week by science journal Nature, researchers determined that mean temperatures in Northern Greenland at the time fluctuated between 11 and 19 degrees Celsius, which equates to 51.8 to 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The abstract states that because fossils from this area are rare, not much was known about the “biological communities inhabiting the Arctic during this time.”
However, after collecting and analyzing 41 DNA samples from the Kap København Formation in Peary Land, North Greenland (82° 24′ N 22° 12′ W) – which they describe as a “polar desert,” scientists concluded: “The record shows an open boreal forest ecosystem with mixed vegetation of poplar, birch and thuja trees, as well as a variety of Arctic and boreal shrubs and herbs, many of which had not previously been detected at the site from macrofossil and pollen records.
“The DNA record confirms the presence of hare and mitochondrial DNA from animals including mastodons, reindeer, rodents and geese, all ancestral to their present-day and late Pleistocene relatives. The presence of marine species including horseshoe crab and green algae support a warmer climate than today.”
The project took scientists 16 years.
The Guardian reported that the samples were extracted from a 100 meter thick sediment deposit. “Extracting and analyzing the DNA was a painstaking process that involved piecing together tiny fragments of genetic material that first needed to be detached from clay and quartz sediment. It was only the advent of a new generation of DNA sequencing techniques that allowed the scientists to identify and piece together extremely small and damaged fragments of DNA, through referencing extensive libraries of DNA collected from present-day animals, plants and microorganisms.”
Their perseverance was worthwhile. One of the authors of the study, Professor Eske Willerslev of the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen, told Nature: “A new chapter spanning one million extra years of history has finally been opened and for the first time we can look directly at the DNA of a past ecosystem that far back in time.”
He added, “DNA can degrade quickly but we’ve shown that under the right circumstances, we can now go back further in time than anyone could have dared imagine.”
Dr Mikkel Pedersen, of the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre at the University of Copenhagen, a co-author of the study, told Nature that, “The data suggests that more species can evolve and adapt to wildly varying temperatures than previously thought.”
Nature research paper: A 2-million-year-old ecosystem in Greenland uncovered by environmental DNA https://t.co/lSRP2vkv2N
— nature (@Nature) December 7, 2022
Researchers are quick to point out that the new revelations do not diminish the dire predictions of planetary doom coming from global warming alarmists.
Although the study found that plants and animals thrived two million years ago at far warmer temperatures than today’s, scientists warn that because the earth is warming at such a rapid rate, “many species will not have enough time to adapt.”
According to the Guardian, this means that “the climate emergency remains a huge threat to biodiversity.”
Copenhagen University Professor Kurt Kjærr, who participated in the project, said that “one of the reasons this scientific advance is so significant [is] because it could reveal how to attempt to counteract the devastating impact of global warming.”
“It is possible that genetic engineering could mimic the strategy developed by plants and trees two million years ago to survive in a climate characterized by rising temperatures and prevent the extinction of some species, plants and trees,” Kjærr added.
The results of this project may not debunk climate change, however, they do show that God’s creation is remarkably adaptable and that life can take root anywhere – including in an Arctic region that, once upon a time, was some 50 degrees warmer than it is today.
A previous version of this article appeared in The Western Journal.
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