Posts Tagged ‘fossils’

Nature Ramble

A little different this week. Looking at extinction. It has been going on for millions of years, Mother Nature herself has been doing it.

‘Animal Pompeii’ wiped out China’s ancient creatures

The fossils of a dinosaur (l) and two primitive birds (m,r) show the creatures locked in their death throes

The puzzle of how a 120-million-year-old animal graveyard in China formed may have been solved.

Scientists believe that the creatures from the lower Cretaceous era were instantly killed by volcanic eruptions similar to the violent blast that hit the Roman city of Pompeii.

Much like the residents of the city, the animals were entombed in ash and frozen in their death throes.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Lead researcher Baoyu Jiang, from Nanjing University in China, said: “Scientists have been curious for a long time in how these animals were killed and became exceptionally preserved.”

The blast of hot gas, dust and ash from volcanic eruptions would have killed the animals instantly

The fossil beds of Liaoning province in north-east China, which date to 120-130 million years ago, have long baffled scientists.

An eclectic array of animals – known as the Jehol Biota – have been unearthed there: they include the first-known feathered dinosaurs, early mammals, birds, fish and insects.

The site is so rich in fossils and well preserved that it has transformed palaeontologists’ understanding of this ancient era, shedding light on evolution and the diversity of life at this time.

Buried together, they are remarkably well preserved – and the apparent victims of major deadly events.

Now scientists say eruptions were responsible.

The conifer forests and lakes where these animals once lived were surrounded by volcanoes, and the researchers believe deadly blasts would have sent a surge of incredibly hot gas, ash and rock – known as pyroclastic flow – across the landscape.

The team says this would have been similar to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which wiped out Pompeii.

Like the people who lived in the city, the ancient animals would have been killed in an instant, and then buried under a dense layers of ash.

The creatures are captured mid-movement, with their limbs flexed and spines extended.


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Change the World Wednesday – 28th Nov

I have to do it!

I have to do it to remain sane.

I have to write a CTWW post.

Oh, yum, yum, yum…

Wednesdays just aren’t Wednesday without one. I tried to give them up last week, but it made the week seem so empty, it was like trying to give up chocolate.

I know that Small Footprints needs a break, that she devotes a lot of time to CTWW and has a household to run and a 3D life to lead, whereas some, like me, live in a 2D world and housework involves doing the dishes and my washing once a week. The world for a hermit is vastly different to real people, so simple and undemanding.

There is no challenge as such, but rather a thought. A wander, if you like, into the far far distant future…

The Age We Made

Gaia Vince concludes her journey through the geological age humans have launched. After climate change and mass extinction, she now explores moves how the world’s cities and manufactured artefacts (from mobile phones to plastic bottles) might become ‘fossilised’ and incorporated into the geological record. Some are bound to survive in crushed form for the rest of the Earth’s existence. Any distant-future geologist would recognise them as strange features unique in the planet’s 4 billion year rock record: chaotic rock layers preserving urban rubble and underground tunnels – mudstones unnaturally rich in zinc, cadmium and mercury – and the occasional crushed mobile phone or plastic bottle transformed from polymer to delicate coal. These rocks and artificial ‘fossils’ will be evidence of a planetary shift into the new time period, which today’s geologists call the Anthropocene.

Click to listen to the BBC Discovery broadcast

So, as we have epochs of the past like the Jurassic and Triassic, those in the distant future will have the Anthropocene, us.

We are doomed to become the ‘past’ and studied much in the same way as we study our past… and so it will go on.

But a crucial question will be, if these intelligent beings from the past (us) could build and create such a world, why couldn’t they have prevented their own extinction?

Good question… next, that one is too hard to answer.

You can also listen to other episodes by visiting the BBC link.

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