‘Game-changing’ discovery of world’s oldest DNA could help us understand toll of climate crisis

Two-million-year-old DNA identified for the first time, opening ‘new chapter’ in history of evolution

Harry Cockburn
Environment Correspondent
Wednesday 07 December 2022 19:59 GMT
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<p>Artist’s reconstruction of Kap København Formation two million years ago</p>

Artist’s reconstruction of Kap København Formation two million years ago

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A two million-year-old DNA sample could provide a “game-changing” understanding of the world’s ancient ecosystems and how the environment could change due to the climate crisis.

The new sample, made up of microscopic fragments of environmental DNA, was found in Ice Age sediment in northern Greenland and is one million years older than the previous record for DNA, which came from a Siberian mammoth bone.

The ancient DNA has already been used to map some of the components of a two-million-year-old ecosystem “which weathered extreme climate change”, the research team led by academics at Cambridge and the University of Stockholm said.

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