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A 'smoking gun' on the Ice Age megafauna extinctions
Date:2/5/2014

e gases in the future. But don't expect the good old well-known vegetation to come back when it becomes cooler again after the global warming. It is not given that the 'old' ecosystems will re-establish themselves to the same extent as before the warming. It's not only climate that drives vegetation changes, but also the history of the vegetation itself and the mammals consuming it.

Footprints from past ecosystems

Professor Christian Brochmann, a botanist at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo in Norway, states:

We show that the permafrost contains a vast, frozen DNA archive left as footprints from past ecosystems, and that we can dechiffer this archive by exploring the collections of plants and animals stored in Natural History Museums. Using DNA from museum collections as reference, we could identify the different plant species that co-occurred with extinct ice age mammals.

Dr. Mari Moora and Professor Martin Zobel, vegetation ecologists from the University of Tartu, Estonia, say:

For the first time, ecologists have been able to piece together the characteristics of more complete plant communities occurring in the Arctic during the last 50,000 years. The new information shows clearly that the vegetation of the Late Pleistocene was rich in forbs but lost considerable diversity at the peak of the ice age. Different plant communities, with graminoids and woody plants prevailing, then started to develop during the Holocene.

Dr. Pierre Taberlet, an ecologist at the CNRS in France, further states:

We should realise that the results presented in this paper would have never been obtained without a very broad collaboration (30 teams from 12 countries) involving the following scientific areas: ancient DNA, palaeo-ecology, taxonomy, molecular ecology, community ecology, zoology, bioinformatics, molecular genetics, and geology. Whereas competition among scientists often is believe
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Contact: Eske Willerslev
ewillerslev@snm.ku.dk
45-35-32-13-09
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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