Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oldest fossils found in Cordillera Betica mountain range

14.12.2010
Spanish researchers have found fossils of Ordovician conodonts dating to between 446 and 444 million years ago for the first time in the western Mediterranean.

The discovery of these very primitive marine vertebrates has helped scientists to reconstruct the palaeogeography of the Cordillera Bética mountain range. Their study shows that the mountain system in the south of the Iberian Peninsula was located alongside the Alps at that time.

In 2006, a group of Andalusian geologists found the oldest fossils in the Cordillera Bética, dating from the late Ordovician period between 446 and 444 million years ago, in the Maláguide Complex in Ardales (Malaga). This was also the first solid evidence of Ordovician rocks in the Bética range.

"The importance of this finding stems not only from the age of the fossils and the fact they make it possible to date the age of the materials they contain, but also from the valuable information they provide to help us reconstruct the tectonic history, the palaeogeography, and the geological history of the Cordillera Bética", Rosario Rodríguez-Cañero, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Department of Stratigraphy and Palaeontology of the University of Granada, tells SINC.

The study, which has been published in the latest issue of the journal Terra Nova, says that the fossils of conodonts, which are very rare and difficult to find, are "an essential tool" for unravelling the geological history of the Bética mountains and learning about the features of the environment in which they developed and the thermal history of the rocks in which they are found.

The researchers analysed the characteristics of the conodont remains they found, the presence of certain species, and the absence of others, and compared these with others of a similar age found in the macizo ibérico (essentially the western half of the Iberian Peninsula) and other ranges in the area.

The results of the study show that, during the late Ordovician period, the Maláguide Complex was not to be found with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula along the edge of the palaeo-continent of Gondwana, "but was rather at a much lower latitude much closer to the Alps, with its Ordovician conodont fauna showing much closer similarities to the fauna of this area", says Rodríguez-Cañero.

Tiny and essential fossils

The conodonts were small, eel-shaped animals without any vertebral column, which measured a few tenths of a millimetre in length, and inhabited the seas during the Palaeozoic era and became extinct at the end of the Triassic (around 205 million years ago).

The fossilised remains usually found are not complete conodonts, but rather pieces of less than one millimetre in size, with a phosphate composition similar to that of vertebrate teeth. The conodonts had these in the cephalic region and used them to catch and grind up their food.

"These teeth were the only mineralised pieces of conodonts, meaning they are generally the only remains to have fossilised, although complete conodont fossils have been found in other parts of the world", the geologist explains.

The fossils found by the research team are not only the oldest in the Cordillera Bética, but are also the first remains of Ordovidician conodonts found in the entire western Mediterranean, from Gibraltar to the south of Italy.

References:

Rodriguez-Canero, R.; Martín-Algarra, A.; Sarmiento, G.N.; Navas-Parejo, P. "First Late Ordovician conodont fauna in the Betic Cordillera (South Spain): a palaeobiogeographical contribution" Terra Nova 22(5): 330-340, octubre de 2010.

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds
25.07.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht NASA flights gauge summer sea ice melt in the Arctic
25.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>