The samples were collected in the north of the island, from a rock formation at the northern tip of Greenland. The data extracted from the DNA provide a lot of information about the climate in Greenland, about 2 million years ago, scientists write in the journal Nature. The average temperature was between 11 and 19 degrees, well above current values.
Until recently, little was known about the biological communities of that period in Greenland, because fossils are rare. This research makes it clear that there was a rich plant and animal world at that place. The scientists speak of a versatile forest system with different tree, herb and plant species. These had not been observed before based on previous analyzes of macrofossils and pollen. At the moment it is an area with hardly any vegetation: a polar desert.
The DNA also confirms the presence of animals such as reindeer, rodents, geese and a mastodon, a mix between an elephant and a mammoth. The presence of green algae, for example, points to a warmer climate than the one currently experienced. Our findings open up new areas of genetic research and show that it is possible to trace the ecology and evolution of biological communities two million years ago using ancient DNA.