DNA from the mastodon, an extinct species that looks like a mix between an elephant and a mammoth also found for the first time in the region
An examination of the oldest DNA from Greenland has revealed that the arctic desert was previously home to lush green landscapes with trees, vegetation, and a variety of animal species.
According to a report by Associated Press on Wednesday, December 7, the researchers extracted environmental DNA, also known as eDNA, from soil samples. The scientists also said, they found traces of the now-extinct mastodon, as well as animals including geese, hares, reindeer and lemmings. Tree species including birch, willow shrubs, firs and ceders were also found.
“The study opens the door into a past that has basically been lost,” said a quote in the report by the lead author Kurt Kjær, a geologist and glacier expert at the University of Copenhagen.
Kjær added, “One big surprise was finding DNA from the mastodon, an extinct species that looks like a mix between an elephant and a mammoth”. Mastodon fossils have previously been found in temperate forests in North America, and its for the first time, this ancient species has been discovered in Greenland.
Talking about the origins of the samples, Kjær said, “They came from a sediment deposit called the Kap København formation in Peary Land in Greenland”.
As animal fossils are difficult to come across, a new technology in DNA analysis helps researchers get genetic information out of the small, damaged bits of DNA, the report said. The researchers extracted environmental DNA, also known as eDNA, from soil samples. This is the genetic material that organisms shed into their surroundings, such as hair, waste, spit or decomposing carcasses.
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