DNA reveals bugs and forests in ancient Greenland

I guess it didn’t get the name for nothing.

Armies of insects once crawled through lush forests in a region of Greenland now covered by more than 2,000m of ice.

DNA extracted from ice cores shows that moths and butterflies were living in forests of spruce and pine in the area between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago.


I may be too ignorant to figure this out, but if Greenland once had all those bugs and stuff, but is a frozen wasteland now, wouldn’t that mean that it was warmer then than it is now? So help me out here. If was warmer in the past, and it’s cold now, how can we blame humanity for this? Because it has to be our fault somehow. Manbearpig says so.

Greenland is colder now than it was a long time ago. And we’re here, polluting and clear-cutting and driving around in our SUVs. What gives? Honestly I can’t make any sense of this at all.

This either.

The ice cores also suggest that the ice sheet is more resistant to warming than previously thought, the scientists say.

“We have shown for the first time that southern Greenland, which is currently hidden under more than 2km of ice, was once very different to the Greenland we see today,” said Professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and one of the authors of the paper.

“What we’ve learned is that this part of the world was significantly warmer than most people thought,” added Professor Martin Sharp from the University of Alberta, Canada, and a co-author of the Science paper.

Or this.

The ancient boreal forests were thought to cover southern Greenland during a period of increased global temperatures, known as an interglacial.

Temperatures at the time were probably between 10C in summer and -17C in winter.

When the temperatures dropped again 450,000 years ago, the forests and their inhabitants were covered by the advancing ice, effectively freezing them in time.


I could be wrong, but there weren’t any cars around to warm Greenland up 450,000 years ago. Big Oil wasn’t even a gleam in a dead dinosaur’s eye. I took a fair amount of history back in college. I’m pretty sure I’d have heard about all those prehistoric cars if there had been any.

“If our data is correct, then this means that the southern Greenland ice cap is more stable than previously thought,” said Professor Willerslev. “This may have implications for how the ice sheets respond to global warming.”

Uh, yeah, about that global warming. If we didn’t cause the Greenland cooling, something did. Might that same something cause any warming we might be seeing now? I’m thinking it might. But I could be wrong.

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