Researchers have discovered a 280 myr (million years old) fossil forest in Antarctica! It’s believed that lush plants once grew on the continent 400-14 mya as they also did in the Arctic. Antarctica was not always the land of ice and snow we see today but it once had a very different climate that was conducive to plant growth. Fossils of some of the plants and trees have been found by researchers and apparently the forest was extensive.
A 280-million-year-old tree stump still attached to its roots in Antarctica. Plants grew on what is today the iciest continent from 400 million to 14 million years ago. Understanding ancient polar forests might help researchers develop predictions about how trees will react as man-made climate change warms the globe.
Credit: Erik Gulbranson
The prehistoric climate of Antarctica was once warm but scientists believe plants growing in the forest had to endure 24 hour days of darkness in winters and days in summer when the sun never set as it still does today. I might add, that is ASSUMING Antarctica was at the bottom of our planet as it is today which may or may NOT be the case! Continue Reading
Below are some alternatives to what the land masses and equator may have resembled in the past. Thanks to the creator of these images JR Bentley. Great work!
[click on images for larger pic]
Image #1: In this image Antarctica is closer to the equator and would be in a Tropical or sub-tropical zone which would explain the prehistoric forest of palm trees found there. Notice too how close New Zealand and Australia would have been to the equator.
Image #2: In this image the equator runs through North America. That would have made the Great Lakes area a tropical area as well as portions of the American Southwest, et al. The North Pole would have been somewhere over eastern Siberia and the South Pole near Brazil’s Amazon.
Image #3: In this image the equator runs through North Africa and Spain among other places.
You can find a list of super-continents at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_supercontinents
Among some of the more interesting to me are as follows: Continue Reading
Back in 2008 the National Science Foundation published the results of a study pertaining to glaciers in the tropics which I find rather interesting.
Geoscientists have long believed that the tropics remained warm during the Earth’s glaciation periods but new evidence reveals this may NOT be the case at all. This evidence appears to show that cold temps periodically gripped the equatorial latitudes during some of glacial periods.
Unaweep Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Research conducted by Oklahoma University geologist Gerilyn Soreghan found evidence of an ancient glacier in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains which 300 mya was part of the tropics. This was during the era of the super-continent known as Pangaea. This study was a shining example of the great amount of untapped climate information stored in the planet’s deep time geologic records millions of years old.
The study indicated that the “toes” of the glaciers were most likely LESS than 500 meters (547 yards) above sea level which is much lower than the tropical glaciers in more recent glacial times.
So during the Late Paleozoic tropical climate zones were NOT immune against the cold as we have thought! In fact the evidence from this study indicates glaciers were common even in the tropical latitudes! The evidence supports the notion that large scale climate change took place in the tropics during this time and possibly other times. And so, what we once thought…was, and what we once thought was not….turns out to be “was.”
South America Primitive Monkey
How did monkeys get to South America? The evolutionary record of these monkeys has long been shrouded in mystery and now a new discovery of extinct monkeys from Peru may shed some light on their evolutionary saga.
The general hypothesis is that S.A. monkeys came from Africa but this has only been speculation with no real proof to support the hypothesis. Some scientists believe that South America used to be an island continent for millions of years and was, thusly, isolated from Africa. That may or may not be so, however.
Three new and extinct species of monkey have been discovered in the Peruvian Amazon and the discoverers are claiming that their discovery indicates strongly that S.A. monkeys came out of Africa. Back in 2010 the first monkey fossils were discovered in South America and it took scientist two years to realize what they were looking at. They finally realized the fossil remains were that of a primitive monkey. Tiny fossils associated with this find were further analyzed. This primitive SA monkey would have only been about the size of a modern squirrel but with a much longer tail and weighing only about 1/2 lbs (250 grams).
Of course, the Amazon region in South America is tropical and fossil finds in tropical regions are rare as environmental conditions in the tropics are not conducive for fossil formation. The oldest fossil remains of monkeys found in South and Central America date back to 36 mya but the finding of extinct monkeys now pushes that date back to 46 mya (million years ago).
The discoverers of these monkey fossils say that characteristics of the teeth in these three fossils are the first evidence that monkeys “actually managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Africa.” What? How’d they cross the Atlantic Ocean? Did they float across on branches or maybe they made boats? I’m sorry but that claim is a real STRETCH in my opinion!! Continue Reading