Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Animal Burrows in Antarctic Tell of a Much Warmer Past

10.06.2008
New fossil finds are shedding light on what Antarctica was like 250 million years ago. The latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology reports the discovery of a number of fossilized burrows of land-living animals in Antarctica and paints a picture of an ice-free world. The first type of burrow was found in the Beardmore Glacier region, approximately 400 miles from the South Pole.

Today Antarctica is a harsh world. Devoid of trees and bushes, it is largely covered in snow and ice and battered by frigid winds. There are no land-based backboned animals that inhabit modern Antarctica – all of the penguins and seals that we imagine on the Antarctic ice are dependent on the sea. But this isolating Antarctic icebox is relatively new in geological terms, and new fossil finds are shedding light on what Antarctica was like 250 million years ago.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Chris Sidor of the University of Washington and his colleagues Molly Miller of Vanderbilt University and John Isbell of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee report the discovery of a number of fossilized burrows of land-living animals in Antarctica and paint a picture of an ice-free world. The first type of burrow was found in the Beardmore Glacier region, approximately 400 miles from the South Pole. It is almost 250 million years old and resembles burrows known in South Africa of a similar age. The South African burrows have been found containing the fossilized skeleton of cat-sized mammal-like reptile called Thrinaxodon.

The burrow from Antarctica “was probably made by the same type of animal,” commented Sidor. The second type of burrow is of a smaller variety and was discovered in an area known as Victoria Land. Again, comparison with similar burrows in South Africa provides clues to the original inhabitants of the burrow. Miller noted that they were probably made by “mole-sized reptiles known as procolophonids. But until we find the animal in the burrow we can’t be sure. It’s also possible that they were made by juveniles of larger animals.”

Isbell noted that 250-200 million years ago the world was a very different place and “as far as we can tell the poles remained ice free.” That is not to say that the winter months were balmy. The latest fossil finds from the polar regions certainly provide strong support for this view. “The burrows were probably important shelters for these animals,” added Sidor. The burrows and dens add to the important record of life that existed on Antarctica before the ice.

About the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Founded in 1940 by thirty-four paleontologists, the Society now has more than 2,000 members representing professionals, students, artists, preparators, and others interested in VP. It is organized exclusively for educational and scientific purposes, with the object of advancing the science of vertebrate paleontology.
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (JVP) is the leading journal of professional vertebrate paleontology and the flagship publication of the Society. It was founded in 1980 by Dr. Jiri Zidek and publishes contributions on all aspects of vertebrate paleontology.

Vince Stricherz | newswise
Further information:
http://www.vertpaleo.org/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>