02 Mar 2012:
Some Scandinavian Conifers
Survived the Last Ice Age, Study Says
A new study has found that some Scandinavian conifers were able to survive the harsh conditions of the last Ice Age
, a finding that upends the long-held view that the region’s landscape was wiped clean by a
University of Copenhagen
A Scandinavian pine
massive blanket of ice. While scientists have long believed contemporary Scandinavian forests were populated by tree species that migrated from eastern and southern Europe after temperatures warmed, DNA evidence suggests some species of spruce and pine found refuge for tens of thousands of years. Indeed, the modern forests are comprised of “original” and “introduced” species, the researchers say. According to their study, published in the journal Science
, some tree species may have survived on Andøya Island, located in northwestern Norway, which was ice-free during the last Ice Age. They may also have found refuge in other more hospitable locations, such as atop nunataks — the exposed mountain peaks that protruded from glacial cover — or in more temperate zones along the Atlantic coast. These “original” species were then able to spread once the ice retreated, said Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen.
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