CNN

A lost ecosystem revealed in Greenland by oldest environmental DNA

Dec 10, 2022, 1:36 PM | Updated: 1:46 pm
layers in earth ground...
Close-up of organic material in the coastal deposits. The organic layers show traces of the rich plant flora and insect fauna that lived two million years ago at Kap København in North Greenland. (Photo: Professor Svend Funder)
(Photo: Professor Svend Funder)

(CNN) — The past is an ever-changing story, and this week, myriad discoveries added new details.

Fossils, jewels and even DNA retrieved from dirt shed light on some of history’s most mysterious chapters.

Each new finding is like opening a door into a different era, allowing scientists an intriguing glimpse of what things might have been like.

It’s fitting that so many revelations are being shared during this time of reflection as 2022 comes to a close — even as we anticipate the wonder yet to be uncovered when a new year dawns.

A long time ago

Scientists in Denmark have found the world’s oldest DNA sequences in sediment from the ice age.

The core, taken from northern Greenland, revealed that the polar region was once abundant with plant and animal life 2 million years ago. Mastodons, reindeer, geese, lemmings and hares lived in an ecosystem that was a mix of temperate and Arctic flora and fauna.

The genetic material, shed by all of the living organisms in the environment so long ago, tells a more complete story of prehistoric life than the fossil record.

This unparalleled ancient ecosystem has no modern equivalent, but it could provide a genetic road map for how some species could adapt to the climate crisis.

For ideas on how to minimize your role in the climate crisis and reduce your eco-anxiety, sign up for CNN’s Life, But Greener limited newsletter series.

Unearthed

Precious gems and metals gleaming in the dirt at a site marked for a UK housing development were part of a trove that once belonged to a powerful Anglo-Saxon woman.

The discovery, called the Harpole Treasure, includes a stunning 1,300-year-old necklace made of gold, garnets and other semiprecious stones, a large silver cross, decorated pots and a copper dish.

These items were the grave goods of a high-ranking woman who died between 630 and 670. She might have been a princess or held a position of power in the early Christian church.

The find ranks with other monumental Anglo-Saxon discoveries made across England in the past century, including the treasures of Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard.

Once upon a planet

Apollo 17 became the final mission of the pioneering NASA lunar program to launch to the moon and back in 1972.

On their journey, astronauts Eugene “Gene” Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt captured the “Blue Marble” photo of Earth.

The image was one of the first breathtaking views of our planet as a globe, vivid against the black void of space. Over time, the image has gained an almost philosophical resonance, linked with the environmental movement and a planetary consciousness of our place in the universe.

Now, 50 years after that final Apollo mission, the Artemis program is aiming to take humans back to the moon and eventually land them on Mars, and its inaugural mission is about to return to Earth.

After a history-making jaunt around the moon, the uncrewed Orion spacecraft is set to splash down at 12:40 p.m. ET Sunday in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California.

Dig this

A group of amateur paleontologists called the Rock Chicks were excavating on a cattle ranch in the Australian outback when they found what’s been likened to the Rosetta stone of marine reptile fossils.

The sleuths uncovered the remains of a juvenile long-necked plesiosaur spanning 19 feet (about 6 meters) that lived 100 million years ago. The creature swam in the Eromanga Sea, which covered parts of what’s now inland Australia during the age of dinosaurs.

The fossil includes the head, neck and body together — a rare discovery for the marine reptiles, which didn’t preserve well in one piece.

Across the universe

Astronomers call this alien world the “hell planet” for a reason.

The scorching surface of exoplanet 55 Cancri e, also known as Janssen, is an ocean of lava that reaches 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,982 degrees Celsius).

If you think 2022 is flying by, a year on Janssen only lasts for 17.5 hours as the planet zips around its star.

Meanwhile, astronomers spied a bright gamma-ray burst that resulted from a rare cosmic explosion, releasing a shower of gold and platinum in space.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

CNN

Edgardo Greco, a convicted murderer linked to Italy's most powerful organized crime group, the 'Ndr...
Barbie Nadeau

Mafia boss found working as pizza boss after 16 years on the run

The Italian anti-Mafia police have arrested another mobster on the run where he was working under the alias Paolo Dimitrio as a pizzaiolo -- or pizza chef.
22 hours ago
FILE: A Frontier airlines plane lands at the Miami International Airport on June 16, 2021 in Miami,...
Zoe Sottile

Frontier Airlines announces new unlimited summer flight pass

Frontier Airlines has announced its newest incentive to get travelers back in the air post-pandemic: An unlimited summer flight pass that costs $399.
22 hours ago
Born on May 11, 1992, Bobi is 30 years and 268 days old. (Guinness World Records)...
Amarachi Orie

Meet, Bobi. The new official world’s oldest living dog

Sorry, Spike. There's a new world's oldest living dog, and he's the oldest ever recorded
22 hours ago
Flames erupt after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3. (Courtesy Kevin Csern...
Rebekah Riess and Hannah Sarisohn

Train derailment in northeastern Ohio sparks massive fire

A train derailment and resulting large fire have prompted an evacuation order in an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania state line.
22 hours ago
In this photo provided by Brian Branch, a large balloon drifts above the Kingstown, N.C. area, with...
Zachary Cohen

US military has shot down the Chinese spy balloon off US East Coast, US official says

The US military has shot down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a US official said Saturday.
22 hours ago
A graphic image of a plane-like spacecraft...
Ashley Strickland

Cosmic seaplanes and self-growing bricks could help us explore other worlds

What are the emerging technologies that could provide new ways of studying the universe?
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
A lost ecosystem revealed in Greenland by oldest environmental DNA