Fossils reveal that Texas was home to elephant-like animals, rhinos and camels 12 million years ago



Thousands of fossils reexamined after decades of storage reveal elephant-like animals, rhinos, alligators and camels wandering in Texas 12 million years ago

  • Long-dormant fossils reveal many exotic animals wandering in ancient Texas
  • Researchers call it the "Texas Serengeti", which existed 11 to 12 million years ago
  • Among the specimens are ancient creatures similar to elephants, rhinos and camels
  • The discovery will help fill in the gaps of what old land looked like

A mine of fossils preserved since the Great Depression has led researchers to dub Texas Serengeti, an ancient region near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Among the surprising array of wildlife unearthed by a recent study of the remains, there was a new kind of large elephant-like animals, rhinos, the oldest American alligator fossil, antelopes, camels, a dozen types of horses and several species of carnivores.

Scientists claim that the vast collection of fossils contains 4,000 specimens and 50 different species, all of which were present about 11 to 12 million years ago.

The Gulf region in Texas could have looked more like 11 to 12 million Africa, according to researchers. An artistic representation of the ancient North American wildlife is presented

The Gulf region in Texas could have looked more like 11 to 12 million Africa, according to researchers. An artistic representation of the ancient North American wildlife is presented

& # 39;[The fossils] are the most representative collection of life from this era of Earth's history along the Texas coastal plain, "said Steven May, research associate at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, who has studied fossils and drafted the document.

Some particularly eye-catching specimens appeared in the form of a newly discovered genus of what is known as the Gomphothera – a modern day elephant ancestor with a shovel-shaped jaw – as well as an extinct ancestor modern canines.

Although the excavations of the site lasted only three years, from 1939 to 1941, many unemployed people began digging fossils during the Great Depression for money, the mission discovered thousands of fossils, scientists said.

According to the researchers, the fossils represented in the collection are also mostly large mammals, because of fossil hunter collection practices that searched the site decades ago – the brightest and largest specimens were priority.

"They gathered the big obvious material," said May.

"But that does not fully represent the incredible diversity of the Miocene environment along the coastal plain of Texas."

Fossilized skull parts of ancient elephant members in the Jackson School Museum of Earth History's collections

Fossilized skull parts of ancient elephant members in the Jackson School Museum of Earth History's collections

Voluminous and sighted specimens were the first fossils dug by hunters during the Great Depression.

Voluminous and sighted specimens were the first fossils dug by hunters during the Great Depression.

Long-dormant fossil discovery methods may not have met current standards, but researchers say they returned to the original excavation site to make a different search for smaller fossils than hunters could have. -be left.

The discoveries will help scientists get a better idea of ​​what life was like at that time, more than 10 million years ago. According to the researchers, there are still many samples to examine.

The Texas fossil study follows one of the most massive discoveries of an ancient dinosaur – a cemetery located in North Dakota, which uncovered a skeleton of old Triceratops from 66 million years.

WHEN THE EXIT EVENTS OF "LARGE FIVE" OF THE EARTH?

Traditionally, scientists have referred to the mass extinctions of the "Big Five," including perhaps the most famous mass extinction caused by a meteorite impact that resulted in the end of the dinosaurs there are 66 million. years.

But the other great mass extinctions have been caused by phenomena entirely from the Earth. Even if they are less well known, we may be able to learn from their exploration that could shed light on our current environmental crises.

  1. The end of the Ordovician: This ancient crisis, about 445 million years ago, has resulted in two large waves of extinction, both caused by climate change associated with the advance and removal of ice sheets in the southern hemisphere. This makes it the only major extinction related to global cooling.
  2. The recent Devonian: This period is now considered a number of extinction pulses spread over 20 million years and starting 380 million years ago. This extinction has been linked to a major climate change, probably caused by the eruption of the volcanic trap area of ​​Viluy in modern Siberia. A major eruption could have caused rapid sea-level fluctuations and a reduction in the oxygen content of the oceans.
  3. The Middle PermianScientists have recently discovered another event, 262 million years ago, that rivals the "Big Five". This event coincided with the eruption of Emeishan in present-day China and caused simultaneous extinctions in the tropics and at high latitudes.
  4. The end of the Permian: Late Permian mass extinction about 252 million years ago eclipses all other events, with about 96% of endangered species. The extinction was triggered by a vast eruption of Siberian traps, a gigantic and prolonged volcanic event that covered much of modern Siberia, resulting in a cascade of environmental effects.
  5. The end of the trias: The Late Triassic event, 201 million years ago, has a number of similarities to the Late Permian event. It was caused by another large eruption, that of the magmatic province of the central Atlantic, which announced the split of the supercontinent Pangea and the initial opening of what would become the Atlantic Ocean.

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