The discovery of land in Florida during the early Eocene opens the possibility for researchers to explore the existence of land animals at that time, including their adaptation, evolution and dispersal until the present.
Florida Museum of Natural History vertebrate paleontologist Jonathan Bloch, who was not involved in the current study, said he is especially interested in the finding and future related research.
"As a paleontologist who studies the evolution of mammals, my first question is 'OK, if there was land here at that time, what kinds of animals lived here?' " Bloch said. "Most of our current understanding of the evolution of early mammals comes from fossils discovered out west."
The study in the current issue of the journal Palynology by David Jarzen, a research scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus, determined sediment collected from a deep injection well contained local, land-based pollen, disproving the popular belief Florida was underwater 45 million years ago during the early Eocene.
"When I got the sample, I could actually break it apart with my fingers," Jarzen said. "It wasn't just land, it was low-lying land with boggy conditions and near shore because it showed marine influence."
Until recently, Florida was believed to have been submerged until the Oligocene epoch, 23 million to 34 million years ago, Jarzen said. The 2010 study of the Pine Island sample from the Oldsmar Formation dates Florida's land from the early Eocene, about 10 million to 15 million years earlier than determined in a 2006 study of pollen and invertebrate fossils from the Avon Park Formation in west central Florida by Jarzen and former Florida Museum scientist David Dilcher.
"What we thought we knew was an incomplete body of information," said Fredrick Rich, a professor of geology in the department of geology and geography at Georgia Southern University. "Those terrestrial trees, shrubs and herbs didn't live out there all by themselves. I envision a small key, or maybe several small keys just like the islands in Florida Bay.
The study appears in the December 2010 edition of the bi-annual journal, which was distributed in January.
The sample of dark gray lignitic clay and limestone contained pollen from 17 different flowering plants, representing the earliest report of land vegetation to date. It was collected in 2004 by study co-author Curtis Klug, a hydrogeologist with Cardno Entrix, a Fort Myers-based natural resource management and environmental consulting company.
"As we're drilling through the rock and the cuttings come to the surface, we collect them, examine them, and determine the type of rock and its estimated age," Klug said. "As we were drilling, we did go through several lignites, but this was one of the thickest ones we found in this particular well."
The company was digging a 767-meter well for the Greater Pine Island Water Association, a company that uses reverse osmosis to produce drinking water. In this case, the well was used to dispose of excess saline brine, Klug said.
Lignite, also known as brown coal, is geologically younger than higher-grade coals and contains decomposed organic matter, largely plant material from wetlands. Along with the 17 land-based pollens, which included species of trees, palms and possibly ferns representing a climate similar to the panhandle today, the sample also contained at least four examples of marine phytoplankton. The presence of limestone and foraminiferas, single-celled organisms found in all marine environments, indicates the rise and fall of the area's sea level.
"Depending upon the anticipated uses of future injection wells, the developers might find it very interesting to know that what they will drill into is not likely to be simple and homogeneous," Rich said. "There is a buried landscape down there and the engineers need to know that is the case."Klug said the age of the sample was determined by analyzing the foraminiferas' carbonate shells and comparing the layer to sediments recovered from the same depth. "I think it's really very interesting," Klug said. "It's a preliminary study but what it shows I think is that the information is available for anybody who's willing to spend the time looking into it."
Pine Island was the site of a Calusa Indian village for more than 1,500 years and is important for research in archaeology and ecology. The Florida Museum maintains the Randell Research Center at Pineland, an archaeological site on the northwest part of the island.
"Our studies of environmental change at Pineland show that while sea level is rising very quickly today, water levels fluctuated up and down when the Calusa inhabited the area from AD 1 to 1700," said William Marquardt, Randell Center director and curator of archaeology at the Florida Museum. "Jarzen and Klug's new findings from the Eocene epoch may be suggesting something similar 35 million years ago – that there were fluctuations during the Eocene that periodically exposed land in Florida."
David Jarzen | EurekAlert!
Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge
Unusual soybean coloration sheds a light on gene silencing
20.06.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology