The world’s oldest DNA was discovered in Greenland, dating back two million years

It’s a find that looks like it’s out of a Jurassic Park movie.

Scientists have discovered 2 million-year-old DNA for the first time, breaking the previous record of 1 million years.

The microscopic fragments, each a few millionths of a millimeter long, have been found in Pleistocene sediments in northern Greenland.

The DNA allowed experts to map a prehistoric ecosystem comprised of animals like reindeer, hares, lemmings, and even a mastodon, often described as an elephant from the Ice Age.

The DNA allowed experts to map a prehistoric ecosystem comprised of animals like reindeer, hares, lemmings, and even a mastodon, often described as a furry Ice Age elephant.

It was previously thought that the mastodon’s range did not extend far from its known origins in North America, but this new discovery proves that it roamed as far as Greenland before becoming extinct.

Evidence of plants such as birch and poplar trees has also been found, as well as a range of microorganisms.

Professor Eske Willerslev, Fellow of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, said: ‘A new chapter has been opened spanning an additional million years of history and for the first time we can look directly at the DNA of a former ecosystem going back to the distant past. time.

“DNA can degrade quickly but we have shown that, under the right conditions, we can now go back in time further than anyone could have imagined.”

The microscopic fragments, each a few millionths of a millimeter long, have been found in Pleistocene sediments in northern Greenland.

The microscopic fragments, each a few millionths of a millimeter long, have been found in Pleistocene sediments in northern Greenland.

Freshly thawed algae from coastal permafrost sediments.  The moss originates from the river erosion that cut through the landscape of Kapp Copenhaven some two million years ago

Freshly thawed algae from coastal permafrost sediments. The moss originates from the river erosion that cut through the landscape of Kapp Copenhaven some two million years ago

41 usable DNA samples have been found hidden in clay and quartz in the Copenhaven Formation, a roughly 100-meter-thick sediment tucked into the mouth of a strait in the Arctic Ocean.

Professor Kurt Kjaer, of the University of Copenhagen’s Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre, said: ‘The ancient DNA samples were found buried deep in sediments that were built up over more than 20,000 years.

“The sediments were eventually preserved in ice or permafrost and, more importantly, were not disturbed by humans for two million years.”

Investigative work by a team of 40 researchers from Denmark, UK, France, Sweden, Norway, USA and Germany has revealed the secrets of DNA fragments.

Although very few pieces of mastodon DNA exist, the researchers said they are very fragmentary and don’t cover the entire genome — which means reviving the species through cloning wouldn’t be possible.

A two-million-year-old stump of a pine tree is still stuck in the permafrost within the coastal sediments.  The tree was carried out to sea by rivers that eroded the former forest landscape

A two-million-year-old stump of a pine tree is still stuck in the permafrost within the coastal sediments. The tree was carried out to sea by rivers that eroded the former forest landscape

The team said their discovery could provide clues as to how best to combat

The team said their discovery could provide clues as to how best to counter the “devastating impact of global warming”. Pictured: Artist’s impression of the Cap Copenhaven Formation today

However, the team said their discovery could provide clues as to how best to counter the “devastating impact of global warming”.

“Expeditions are very expensive and many samples were taken in 2006 when the team was in Greenland for another project,” said Prof Keier. It has been stored ever since.

It was not until a new generation of DNA extraction and sequencing equipment was developed that we were able to identify and quantify the very small, damaged fragments of DNA in sediment samples.

Genetic engineering could mimic the strategy plants and trees developed two million years ago to survive a warming climate and prevent the extinction of some species, plants and trees.

This is one of the reasons why this scientific advance is so important because it can reveal how to try to counteract the devastating impact of global warming.

Professor Esk Willerslev and colleague sample from an environmental DNA deposit in Greenland

Professor Esk Willerslev and colleague sample from an environmental DNA deposit in Greenland

“It may be possible that the clays preserved ancient DNA in the warm, moist environments of the sites in Africa,” said Professor Willerslev.

If we can start probing ancient DNA in mud grains from Africa, we may be able to gather groundbreaking information about the origin of many different species — and perhaps even new knowledge about early humans and their ancestors — the possibilities are endless,” he said.

In the movie Jurassic Park, scientists find fragmented dinosaur DNA preserved in amber and successfully fill in the genetic holes with frog DNA.

Unfortunately for fans, while the concept of cloning an animal from DNA is possible, experts say that dinosaur genes preserved in amber wouldn’t actually survive to the present day.

The research has been published in the journal Nature.

Mastodons explained

Pictured: a reconstructed mastodon

Pictured: a reconstructed mastodon

Mastodons—whose name means “breast tooth,” after the nipple-like protrusions on their molar teeth—are ancient relatives of the elephant.

They lived in North and Central America from about 5.3 million years ago during the Pliocene Era to about 10,000-11,000 years ago.

Thought to have been primarily forest-dwelling animals that lived in herds, mastodons would have consumed a mixed diet based on both browsing and, to a lesser extent, grazing.

Like other large Pleistocene animals, their extinction is thought to have been caused by a combination of climate change and over-exploitation by the ancient American Clovis culture hunters.

They had a similar build to the modern Asian elephant, and could grow to about 9′ 2″ (2.8 m) and weigh up to 11 tons.

Mastodons are often depicted as wearing a coat of hair – like a woolly mammoth – however, there is no actual evidence to support this feature.

#worlds #oldest #DNA #discovered #Greenland #dating #million #years

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *