The tree line
If you have ever travelled by plane from the southern part of Canada to the Arctic and looked down you would have noticed that trees seem to become smaller and then disappear. This is what is known as the tree line, a line that marks the limit as to where trees are able to grow.
About 3 to 5 million years ago, however, trees grew in abundance in the area. One such tree is Larix groenlandii. Found at Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, this tree fossil was found by palaeontologists who sent it to the Canadian Museum of Nature where it is now housed.
A warm climate
Trees thrive in warmer climates. During the Pliocene era, when Larix groenlandii grew, scientists believe that the average temperature in the area was likely between 14 to 19ºC, very different from today’s Arctic temperatures.
Today, scientists believe that the planet is warming. Could an increase in temperature possibly see large trees growing in the Arctic once again?
A mummified tree
Larix groenlandii is perfectly preserved. It is often referred to as being mummified instead of fossilized because of the way it was preserved in such a dry climate.