Ancient biomolecules from deep ice cores reveal a forested southern Greenland.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Martin Bay Hebsgaard
  • Tina Blumensaadt Brand
  • Michael Hofreiter
  • Michael Bunce
  • Hendrik N. Poinar
  • Sigfus Johann Johnsen
  • Ole Bennike
  • Jean-Luc Schwenninger
  • Roger Nathan
  • Simon Armitage
  • Cees-Jan de Hoog
  • Vasily Alfimov
  • Marcus Christl
  • Juerg Beer
  • Raimund Muscheler
  • Joel Barker
  • Martin Sharp
  • Kirsty E. H. Penkman
  • James Haile
  • Pierre Taberlet
  • Antonella Casoli
  • Elisa Campani
  • Matthew J. Collins
It is difficult to obtain fossil data from the 10% of Earth's terrestrial surface that is covered by thick glaciers and ice sheets, and hence, knowledge of the paleoenvironments of these regions has remained limited. We show that DNA and amino acids from buried organisms can be recovered from the basal sections of deep ice cores, enabling reconstructions of past flora and fauna. We show that high-altitude southern Greenland, currently lying below more than 2 kilometers of ice, was inhabited by a diverse array of conifer trees and insects within the past million years. The results provide direct evidence in support of a forested southern Greenland and suggest that many deep ice cores may contain genetic records of paleoenvironments in their basal sections.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number5834
Pages (from-to)111-114
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Amino Acids; Animals; Bayes Theorem; Climate; DNA; Ecosystem; Fossils; Geography; Greenland; History, Ancient; Ice Cover; Invertebrates; Plants; Polymerase Chain Reaction; Time; Trees

ID: 3848473