Friday, 11 March 2011
Have a guess
Armies of insects once crawled through lush forests in a region of xxxxxxxxx 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.
Researchers writing in Science magazine say the specimens could represent the oldest pure DNA samples ever obtained.
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 xxxxxxxxx, which is currently hidden under more than 2km of ice, was once very different to the xxxxxxxxx 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.
The ancient boreal forests were thought to cover southern xxxxxxxxx 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.
Studies suggest that even during the last interglacial (116,000-130,000 years ago), when temperatures were thought to be 5C warmer than today [why didn't this cause Hansen's "tipping point," "arctic amplification," or an "arctic death spiral" from accelerating albedo loss predicted by alarmists today for warming of 3C or less?] , the ice persevered, keeping the delicate samples entombed and free from contamination and decay.
H/T to the Hockey Schtick