(TMU) — Antarctica has always tantalized researchers and scientists with its mysterious ice-covered lands.
A newly published study about the climate of the mid-Cretaceous period is adding stunning new questions to the mix as researchers claim to have discovered evidence of a 90-million-year-old temperate rainforest that once existed in the South Pole region. The study paints a picture of a very different prehistoric Antarctica, one that was much warmer and teeming with life.
An international team of geoscience researchers acquired their evidence while aboard the research icebreaker RV Polarstern in the Amundsen Sea near the Pine Island Glacier. Their drill rig descended to ocean depths of 3,300 feet and then penetrated through to 90 feet beneath the seafloor to extract a perfectly preserved sample of forest soil with a sediment core composed of fine-grained silt and clay.
In their paper, recently published in Nature, the scientists wrote:
“A sedimentary sequence recovered from the West Antarctic shelf—the southernmost Cretaceous record reported so far—and show that a temperate lowland rainforest environment existed at a palaeolatitude of about 82° S during the Turonian–Santonian age (92 to 83 million years ago).”
A CT scan of the dark-brownish gray soil revealed densely packed fossil roots, pollen, and spores of at least 65 types of vegetation including conifers, ferns, and flowering plants. No animal fossils were recovered but the soil was dated to about 90 million years ago, which was the golden age of the dinosaurs. With average annual temperatures of about 53-55 degrees Fahrenheit (12-13 Celsius)—68-77 Fahrenheit (20-25 Celsius) during the warmest summer months—scientists say this region, 560 miles from the South Pole, would have been a swampy rainforest full of dinosaurs, flying pterosaurs, and insects.
“The preservation of this 90-million-year-old forest is exceptional, but even more surprising is the world it reveals,” said the study’s co-author Professor Tina van de Flierdt, from the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial. “Even during months of darkness, swampy temperate rainforests were able to grow close to the South Pole, revealing an even warmer climate than we expected.”
The region would have been like an entirely different world from the frigid, glacier-encrusted South Pole we see today. Despite the region experiencing an annual four-month polar night, marine geologist Johann Klages of the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research in Germany says the estimated temperatures would be analogous to modern-day New York City.
Other scientists compared the temps to those found in New Zealand. The annual mean air temperature was only two degrees warmer than contemporary Germany. River and swamp water would have reached up to 20 degrees Celsius and annual rainfall volume was equal to contemporary Wales.
The study also has ramifications for climate research as the work suggests much higher atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels than previous climate models showed for the mid-Cretaceous period.
In addition to the stunning revelation of dense vegetation and flourishing life in pre-historic Antarctica, the research provides a new window into how climate conditions and CO2 levels dramatically shape life on Earth.
UK Boy, 6, Finds Fossil In Family Garden That May be 488 Million Years Old
Children have a natural fascination with rocks, with many of us having spent some days as children standing awe-struck at our museums or science centers looking at dazzling arrays of stones, or learning about the different types that can be found out our local beaches, parks, or hiking trails.
However, none of us managed to make the sort of discovery that one young boy in the U.K. did.
Siddak Singh Jhamat, known as Sid, found a fossil in his garden that dates back millions of years.
Sid found the fossil in his backyard garden in the town of Walsall using a simple fossil-hunting kit he received as a gift, reports the BBC.
His father Vish Singh was then able to identify the fossil as a horn corral that dates back 251 to 488 million years with the help of a Facebook fossil group.
“I was just digging for worms and things like pottery and bricks and I just came across this rock which looked a bit like a horn, and thought it could be a tooth or a claw or a horn, but it was actually a piece of coral which is called horn coral,” Sid explained.
“I was really excited about what it really was.”
His father Vish added:
“We were surprised he found something so odd-shaped in the soil… he found a horn coral, and some smaller pieces next to it, then the next day he went digging again and found a congealed block of sand.
“In that there were loads of little molluscs and sea shells, and something called a crinoid, which is like a tentacle of a squid, so it’s quite a prehistoric thing.”
The father believes that the distinctive markings on the fossil make it a Rugosa coral, meaning it could be up to 488 million years old.
“The period that they existed from was between 500 and 251 million years ago, the Paleozoic Era,” Vish said.
“England at the time was part of Pangea, a landmass of continents. England was all underwater as well… that’s quite significant expanse of time.”
Researchers Find 50,000-Year-Old Frozen Body of Extinct Woolly Rhino in Siberia
Researchers in Siberia have stumbled upon the 50,000 year-old remains of a rare woolly rhinoceros that was trapped in permafrost.
The remains of the woolly rhino were excavated from the Abyisky district of the Sakha Republic. The rhino was first discovered by a local in Siberia named Alexei Savin, Business Insider reported.
Savvin stumbled upon the remarkable find walking near the Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia, Siberia last August.
It’s worth noting that this woolly rhino was found close to the site where a previous baby woolly rhino named Sasha was discovered back in the year 2014. Woolly Rhinos were once believed to have been prevalent in Europe, Russia and northern Asia thousands upon thousands of years ago until they ended up extinct.
Paleontologist Albert Protopopov of the Academy of Sciences of the Sakha Republic unveiled that the baby woolly rhino would have been approximately three to four years old when it died presumably from drowning.
The only other woolly rhino thus far that has been discovered in these regions — Sasha — was dated to be from around 34,000 years ago. However, Protopopov suggests that the newly discovered body could be anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 years old.
However, despite the body being there for so long according to Protopopov “among other things, part of the internal organs are preserved, which in the future will make it possible to study in more detail how the species ate and lived.”
Protopopov further added, “Earlier, not even the bone remains of individuals of this age were found, not to mention the preserved carcasses of animals. As a rule, these were either cubs or adults.”
A fellow paleontologist Valery Plotnikov from the Academy of Sciences further adds, “We have learned that woolly rhinoceroses were covered in very thick hair. Previously, we could judge this only from rock paintings discovered in France. Now, judging by the thick coat with the undercoat, we can conclude that the rhinoceroses were fully adapted to the cold climate very much from a young age.”
Isaac Newton’s Secret “Burnt” Notes Included Theory That Great Pyramids Predicted Apocalypse
Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most famous scientists of recorded history, left behind a large body of work that is still vital in our understanding of the world today. However, as with many public intellectuals, he also had plenty of work that was never shared with the public, even after his death.
Now, for the first time ever, some of these unpublished notes are being auctioned off, and these notes contain some of his most wild theories, and includes his thoughts on the occult, alchemy, and biblical apocalypse theory. Newton was known to dabble in the more esoteric realms of study, but very little written evidence remains about his specific thoughts on mystical topics.
Some of the remaining manuscript notes are currently being auctioned by Sotheby’s. The notes have been through a lot, and are obviously burned. The auctioneers claim that the notes were damaged in a fire that is believed to have been started by a candle that was accidentally toppled by Newton’s dog, Diamond.
According to the auction listing, “These notes are part of Newton’s astonishingly complex web of interlinking studies – natural philosophy, alchemy, theology – only parts of which he ever believed were appropriate for publication. It is not surprising that he did not publish on alchemy, since secrecy was a widely-held tenet of alchemical research, and Newton’s theological beliefs, if made public, would have cost him (at least) his career.”
The notes currently have a leading bid of £280,000, the equivalent of about $375,000.
In the notes, Newton speaks on some far-out topics that would surprise modern thinkers. For example, Newton’s notes include a theory that ancient Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza predicted the apocalypse. While it is unclear what logic he used to get to his conclusion, the theory began with his study of how the pyramids were designed according to an ancient Egyptian unit of measurement called the royal cubit.
While studying the pyramids and the cubit, Newton believed he developed an insight into sacred geometry, which somehow aligned with the apocalypse predictions in the bible.
“He was trying to find proof for his theory of gravitation, but in addition the ancient Egyptians were thought to have held the secrets of alchemy that have since been lost. Today, these seem disparate areas of study – but they didn’t seem that way to Newton in the 17th century,” Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s manuscript specialist, told The Guardian.
“It’s a wonderful confluence of bringing together Newton and these great objects from classical antiquity which have fascinated people for thousands of years. The papers take you remarkably quickly straight to the heart of a number of the deepest questions Newton was investigating,” Heaton added.
Interest in alchemy and mysticism was not unusual for serious scholars at the time, in fact, it was recognized as a legitimate field of scientific study.
“The idea of science being an alternative to religion is a modern set of thoughts. Newton would not have believed that his scientific work could undermine religious belief. He was not trying to disprove Christianity – this is a man who spent a long time trying to establish the likely time period for the biblical apocalypse. That’s why he was so interested in the pyramids,” Heaton said.
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