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 Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents
12.12.2017 | Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

nachricht How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>