Greenland, 2 MYA
Illustration to accompany academic publication "A 2-million-year-old ecosystem in Greenland uncovered by environmental DNA" by Kjer and Pedersen et al, in the international journal Nature, December 2022 issue. Image was also selected for the cover of the issue.
Reconstructed landscape showing an ecosystem with no modern analogue, with animals and plants identified by DNA from environmental samples of the Kap København formation in northern Greenland. Today this area is empty, and arctic desert, with few surviving species. This DNA, the oldest ever sequenced, was able to show a rich and lush environment at the onset of the Pleistocene, before the beginning of glacial advance, supporting large fauna which included Mastodon and Caribou, as well as Black Geese, Hare and various rodent species. A surprising mix of birch, poplar, willow, and conifer trees dominated the mosaic landscape, with various plant geneses from above and below the arctic circle apparently living together at the time.