Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA from fossils reveal the origin of the Norwegian lemming

24.03.2014

A new ancient DNA study shows that the Norwegian lemming has a unique history. In contrast to other mammals in Fennoscandia, the Norwegian lemming may have survived the last Ice Age in the far north, sealed off from the rest of the world by gigantic ice sheets. This conclusion is drawn by an international team of researchers in an article published this week in the journal Molecular Ecology.

The Norwegian lemming is an iconic small mammal that is unique to the Fennoscandian mountain tundra. Known for its dramatic fluctuations in population size, it is a keystone species in the mountain tundra ecosystem. But its origin has until now remained somewhat of a mystery.

Norwegian lemming

The Norwegian lemming is an iconic small mammal that is unique to the Fennoscandian mountain tundra.

Swedish Museum of Natural History

Twenty thousand years ago, Fennoscandia was covered by a thick ice sheet. Animals and plants in the region are therefore thought to originate from populations that lived to the south or east of the ice sheet, and colonised Fennoscandia as the ice melted.

With this in mind, and international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, set out to investigate from where the Norwegian lemming originated at the end of the last Ice Age. To do this, the researchers retrieved and analysed ancient DNA from lemming populations that surrounded the ice sheet during the last Ice Age.

... more about:
»DNA »Norwegian »Swedish »clear »fossils »lemming »mammal »populations »small »species

- ”We found that even though the populations surrounding the ice sheet were closely related to modern day lemmings, none of them were similar enough to be the direct ancestor of the Norwegian lemming”, says Love Dalén, Associate Professor at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. 

After eliminating these populations as potential sources, the researchers concluded that the only remaining explanation was that the Norwegian lemming originates from a population that survived the last glaciation somewhere locally in Fennoscandia.

The exact location where the Norwegian lemming could have survived the last glaciation is not clear, but likely places include coastal areas or mountain plateaus sticking out from the ice sheet.

- ”The Norwegian lemming is the only endemic mammal in Fennoscandia, and its unusual origin is probably the reason why”, says Vendela Lagerholm, lead author on the study.

Love Dalén
Swedish Museum of Natural History
Phone: +46 8 5195 4281
Mobile: +46 70 777 2794
E-mail: love.dalen@nrm.se

Vendela Kempe Lagerholm
Swedish Museum of Natural History
Phone: +46 8 5195 5162
Email: vendela.k.lagerholm@nrm.se

Pressofficer martin Testorf, martin.testorf@nrm,se, +46-709 429011

Martin Testorf | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: DNA Norwegian Swedish clear fossils lemming mammal populations small species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Heidelberg Researchers Find Unusually Elastic Protein
23.01.2015 | Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

nachricht Early human ancestors used their hands like modern humans
23.01.2015 | Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

2000 Erziehungswissenschaftler an der Uni Kassel erwartet

19.01.2015 | Event News

How are Europe’s landscapes influenced by the changing energy sector?

19.01.2015 | Event News

Value chain driven development of rural areas in Eastern Europe

22.12.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare neurological disease shines light on health of essential nerve cells

23.01.2015 | Health and Medicine

California's policies can significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions through 2030

23.01.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Exotic, gigantic molecules fit inside each other like Russian nesting dolls

23.01.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>