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
Vince Stricherz | newswise
Hidden river once flowed beneath Antarctic ice
22.08.2017 | Rice University
Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter
17.08.2017 | Swansea University
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences