This oldest DNA sample in the world discovered. The previous “record” was a million years younger!
The researchers behind this discovery did not expect to unearth such ancient DNA! By examining Ice Age sediments collected north of GreenlandPaleogeneticists at the University of Copenhagen have indeed discovered a DNA sample dating back 2 million years, a record in the field and a fascinating subject of study!
The oldest DNA discovered
The work that led to this incredible discovery was published in the scientific journal Nature. By analyzing sediments collected in the permafrost off the northeastern tip of Greenland, the researchers managed to sequence this DNA fragment.
After analyzing 41 samples trapped in clay and quartz, they were able to extract this 2 million year old DNA. The previous oldest DNA sample identified so far was “only” 1 million years old!
A unique region in the world
The region in question benefits from an ecosystem that does not exist anywhere else in the world. “Cape Copenhagen” has been studied by researchers since 2006. The latter was formed thanks to sediments transported to the sea by rivers. A landmass that finally emerged from the water about 2 million years ago, which makes it unique today.
The ecosystem of today has nothing to do with that of the past. Since their work began, the teams led by Mikkel Winther Pedersen, one of the study’s lead authors, have been able to determine by collecting numerous DNA samples that the region was dotted with forests and sheltered species such as mastodons, reindeer and hares. and with a large number of different plant species thanks to a climate that was 11 to 17 degrees warmer at the time.
Understanding species adaptation
It is in particular the presence of these mastodons, also in the north, that interests scientists. This discovery may indeed make it possible to learn more about the adaptation of species to significant climate changes, but over time.
A big challenge now that this climate change is happening much faster nowadays, because accelerated by human activity. A situation that can be seen very well in Greenland.