As we are a species that always turns away from palms, it can be difficult to comprehend how long life has been on earth. However, you may want to try this one chapter: Scientists have dug up fragments of DNA dating back 1 million years ago.
What fragments of organic matter are found on the maps of the history of the region – they are maps of what lived in the ocean and during what time periods.
Technically referred to as sat downThe DNA – for ancient sedimentary DNA – samples recovered will likely prove useful in the ongoing effort to understand how climate change could affect Antarctica in the future.
“This includes by far the oldest authentic marine sat downDNA to date,” says marine ecologist Linda Armbrecht from the University of Tasmania in Australia.
Sit downDNA is found in many environments, including terrestrial caves and subarctic permafrost, which have yielded sat downThe DNA dates back to 400,000 and 650,000 years, respectively.
Cold temperatures, low humidity, and a lack of UV rays make polar marine environments like the Scotia Sea terrific places to visit. sat downDNA remains intact, we just have to find what we are waiting for.
The recovered DNA was extracted from the ocean floor in 2019 and went through a comprehensive contamination control process to ensure that the age markers embedded in the material were accurate.
Among other discoveries, the team brought back diatoms (single-celled organisms) found 540,000 years ago. All of this helps to inform our view of how this part of the world has evolved over vast stretches of time.
The team was able to link diatom abundance to warmer periods – the last of which was in the Scotia Sea 14,500 years ago. That has led to an increase in marine life of higher activity across the Antarctic region.
“It is an interesting and important change that has to do with the growth of the world’s seas and the rapid growth and large loss of ice in Antarctica due to natural warming,” says geologist Michael Weber from the University of Bonn in Germany.
This study is the latest evidence that these sat downDNA techniques can be useful in reconstructing ecosystems over hundreds of thousands of years, giving us a full-scale view of how the oceans have changed.
Scientists are constantly getting better at removing these ancient DNA fragments from the earth and removing the “noise” and interference left behind by all the recent DNA that has been around in order to get an authentic look at the past.
Understanding more about past climate changes and how the ocean ecosystem has responded means more accurate models and predictions of what might happen next around the South Pole.
“Antarctica is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change on Earth, and the past and present responses of this polar marine ecosystem to environmental change are imperative,” write researchers in a public paper.
The research was published in Nature Communications.
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