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.
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!
Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union
UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences