Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Precursor of European rhinos found in Vietnam

12.03.2014

A team of scientists from the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen was able to recover fossils of two previously unknown mammal species that lived about 37 million years ago.

The newly described mammals show a surprisingly close relationship to prehistoric species known from fossil sites in Europe.


Partial cranium of Bakalovia orientalis

Foto: Senckenberg

The location: The open lignite-mining Na Duong in Vietnam. Here, the team of scientists was also able to make a series of further discoveries, including three species of fossilized crocodiles and several new turtles.

Southeast Asia is considered a particularly species-rich region, even in prehistoric times – a so-called hotspot of biodiversity. For several decades now, scientists have postulated close relationships that existed in the late Eocene (ca. 38-34 million years ago) between the faunas of that region and Europe. The recent findings by the research team under leadership of Prof. Dr. Madelaine Böhme serve as proof that some European species originated in Southeast Asia.

Rhinoceros and Coal beast

One of the newly described mammals is a rhinoceros, Epiaceratherium naduongense. The anatomy of the fossil teeth allows identifying this rhinoceros as a potential forest dweller. The other species is the so-called “Coal Beast”, Bakalovia orientalis.

This pig-like ungulate, closely related to hippos, led a semi-aquatic lifestyle, i.e., it preferred the water close to bank areas. At that time, Na Duong was a forested swampland surrounding Lake Rhin Chua. The mammals’ remains bear signs of crocodile attacks. Indeed, the excavation site at Na Duong contains the fossilized remains of crocodiles up to 6 meters in length.

From island to island toward Europe

In the Late Eocene, the European mainland presented a very different aspect than it does today. Italy and Bulgaria were part of an island chain in the Tethys Sea. These islands spanned several thousand kilometers between what later became Europe and India. European fossils from that epoch are very rare, since little material has been preserved due to the folding of mountains and erosion. Yet, the two new species had relatives in this area:

A rhinoceros Epiaceratherium bolcense closely resembling the one from Na Duong was found in Italy (Monteviale). Fossil finds of Epiaceratherium magnum from Bavaria indicate that rhinoceroses reached continental Europe no later than 33 million years ago and colonized the landmass. The coal beast did not quite make it to the European mainland – but it certainly reached the so-called Balkano-Rhodopen Island: a fossilized coal beast very similar to Bakalovia orientalis was unearthed in present-day Bulgaria.

Research among coal dust and excavators

The open mining pit Na Duong is still active. While the scientists conduct their excavations, lignite is being extracted nearby. Since 2008, the international research team around Prof. Dr. Madelaine Böhme from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) at the University of Tübingen has studied the prehistoric ecosystem and the fossils of Na Duong in Vietnam.

This research revealed that the lignite seams contained a globally important fossil deposit from the Paleogene interval. Originally, scientists had expected to find fossils from the younger Cenozoic (up to 23 million years ago) at the site.

This ecosystem, which the scientists from Vietnam, France and Germany explore and reconstruct in ever more detail from one excavation season to the next, is a 37 million year-old swamp forest in a tropical to subtropical climate. Up to 600 trees grew there per hectare, and their crowns reached heights of up to 35 meters.

 Publication

Böhme, M. et al.; Na Duong (northern Vietnam) – an exceptional window into Eocene ecosystems from Southeast Asia, Zitteliana A 53, 120 A 5 (2014).
Online: http://www.palmuc.de/bspg/images/pdf/10_boehme.pdf

Contact

Prof. Dr. Madeleine Böhme
Department of Geosciences
Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment
(currently away on expedition)
madelaine.boehme@senckenberg.de

Press Offices

Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
Regina Bartel
Phone 069- 7542 1434
pressestelle@senckenberg.de

University of Tübingen
University Communications
Antje Karbe
Phone 07071 – 29-76789
antje.karbe@uni-tuebingen.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.palmuc.de/bspg/images/pdf/10_boehme.pdf
http://www.senckenberg.de/root/index.php?page_id=5210&year=2014&kid=2&am...

Dr. Sören Dürr | Senckenberg

Further reports about: Eocene Precursor Senckenberg crocodiles ecosystem fossils rhinos species

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs
14.11.2018 | Uppsala University

nachricht Earth's magnetic field measured using artificial stars at 90 kilometers altitude
14.11.2018 | 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: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>