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Volume 612 Issue 7939, 8 December 2022

The lost world

The cover shows an artist’s impression of the rich ecosystem that existed in parts of northern Greenland some 2 million years ago. The ecosystem is reconstructed from ancient DNA in this week’s issue by Eske Willerslev and colleagues. Working at the Kap København Formation in Peary Land, the researchers gathered sediment samples rich in organic material from 5 different geological sites. By extracting and sequencing DNA from these samples, they were able to piece together a picture of the flora and fauna present around 2 million years ago. The team found evidence of open boreal forest mixed with Arctic species such as cedar, spruce and birch, as well as signs of animals including hares, mastodons, reindeer and geese. The evidence affirms that this part of Greenland, now a polar desert, was 11–17 °C warmer than it is today and suggests it was home to an ecosystem composition that no longer exists anywhere in the world.

Cover image: Beth Zaiken/

This Week

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      • Jillian C. Rastinejad
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  • Innovation – the practice of turning cutting edge basic research into inventions with real world application – is the driver of knowledge economies.

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