Animal, plant life in Greenland between ice ages

This video, narrated in Japanese, is about a melting glacier in Greenland.

From Nature:

DNA reveals a green Greenland

Old forests hint that the island has been icy for 450,000 years.

Louis Buckley

Scientists have drilled through two kilometres of ice in southern Greenland and retrieved DNA from the pine forest that once existed there, buzzing with prehistoric insect life. Dated to between 450,000 and 800,000 years old, the DNA is among the oldest ever found.

Greenland is known to have once been green — plant fossils dating to 2.4 million years ago have been found in the far northeast of the country. But, surprisingly, the DNA evidence for plant life stops at 450,000 years ago. Researchers say the lack of younger DNA suggests that this portion of the land has been covered by ice ever since — and that goes against the prevailing view of Greenland’s climatic history. …

From the samples retrieved, the team identified a wide range of plant and insect species — trees such as alder, spruce, pine and yew, and an associated fauna of beetles, flies, spiders, butterflies and moths. Similar landscapes can be seen in Eastern Canada and Swedish forests today, says Willerslev. From the plant species found, they estimate that temperatures in the forest were at least 10 °C in summer and a minimum of -17 °C minimum in winter.

How far north the forest extended or what else lived beneath its boughs, though, remains a mystery. “We found no DNA from animals besides insects [and spiders], probably due to the small amount of ice analysed,” says Willerslev. “Animal DNA vanishes faster and is much harder to find than plant or insect DNA because there is less to start with.”

Recent years’ warming in the Arctic has caused local changes in vegetation, reveals new research by biologists from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and elsewhere published in the prestigious journals Nature Climate Change and Ecology Letters. The results show that most plants in the Arctic have grown taller, and the proportion of bare ground has decreased. Above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs: here.

Greenland human ancestry: here.

8 million years old mummified trees in Hungary: here.

Scientists have modeled the phylogeographic relationships and demographic changes of Castanopsis sieboldii, which is a dominant tree of the broadleaved evergreen forests of Japan, dating back to about 100,000 years ago. The model strongly suggested that C. sieboldii survived in at least 4 areas through the last glacial maximum (LGM). The results present new evidence concerning conservation of genetic diversity of C. sieboldii: here.

3 thoughts on “Animal, plant life in Greenland between ice ages

  1. Pingback: Fossil bats of Queensland, Australia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Greenland ‘Grand Canyon’ discovery under ice | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Sweden’s first carnivorous dinosaur discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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