© TigerenteArenaria ciliata (Fringed Sandwort)
The history books will have to be rewritten after researchers uncovered a super resilient plant which survived the Ice Age in Ireland.
Up to now most scientists agreed that Ireland's flora and fauna emerged or came here after the end of the Ice Age, some 15,000 years ago.
However, this latest discovery by a research team from NUI Maynooth
, pushes back this date to a much earlier time.
The team, led by ecologist Dr Conor Meade, developed a new DNA analysis method to unravel the complex history of the Fringed Sandwort, a rare cold-loving herb that only grows on the high slopes of Ben Bulben in Co Sligo.
Researchers collected the plant on mountain peaks all over Europe, from Spain and Italy up to Svalbard in the Arctic
Circle, and then completed detailed genetic analyses.
The new analysis method, based on a process called DNA melting, greatly improves the accuracy of existing DNA analysis and helped to reveal previously unknown levels of genetic diversity in the Irish populations.