Not So Great Britain

Oldest DNA ever recovered shows warmer planet: report | July 6, 2007

Scientists who probed two kilometers (1.2 miles) through a Greenland glacier to recover the oldest plant DNA on record said Thursday the planet was far warmer hundreds of thousands of years ago than is generally believed. DNA of trees, plants and insects including butterflies and spiders from beneath the southern Greenland glacier was estimated to date to 450,000 to 900,000 years ago, according to the remnants retrieved from this long-vanished boreal forest.

That contrasts sharply with the prevailing view that a lush forest of this kind could only have existed in Greenland as recently as 2.4 million years ago, according to a summary of the study, which is published Thursday in the journal Science.

The samples suggest the temperature probably reached 10 degrees C (50 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer and -17 C (1 F) in the winter.

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