Researchers analyzing hyrax urine layers to study climate change

Feb 19, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
Researchers analyzing hyrax urine layers to study climate change
The rock hyrax (Procavia capensis). Credit: Wikipedia

(Phys.org)—Researchers from Montpelier University in France have discovered a novel way to trace climate change over the past several thousand years—by analyzing layers of urine deposited by generations of the rock hyrax in the mountains of South Africa. The small, guinea pig-sized animal lives among the rocks and crags and tends to urinate in the same spot every time it goes, creating layer after layer of material that is chock full of evidence of climatic change. The study is being led by Brian Chase who reported on the team's findings while speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in Boston.

The rock hyrax actually looks similar to a groundhog but is more closely related to the elephant—it lives in Africa and Asia and doesn't travel. Successive generations living in colonies have populated various nesting areas for thousands of years leaving behind what researchers are only now discovering is an important tool for studying how the climate has changed in areas over very long periods of time. The researchers have found one nest with a urine patch with layers they were able to trace back to 55,000 years ago. Each layer has bits of leaves, pollen, calcium remnants, stable isotopes, charcoal and trapped gas bubbles—all of which can be tested and dated.

Thus far, the team has found evidence to help explain what went on in Africa just after the last ice age—after melted leaving behind great pools of very cold water that were blocked by mountains in Europe. When the blockages were suddenly broken, all that cold water rushed into the North Sea, causing a nearly instant cooling across Europe. But until now researchers had scant evidence of what occurred in the rest of the world. The urine layers suggest that Africa was cooled as well, hinting that it might have been a temporary global phenomenon. They've also found evidence that contradicts models that show southern Africa was arid approximately 12,000 years ago—the hyrax were eating grasses that only grow in wet climates.

The point of studying how climate has changed in the past, of course, is to help build models that can predict what might happen in the future—something that is becoming particularly relevant as the planet continues on its current trend of global warming.

Explore further: Mexico's Volcano of Fire blows huge ash cloud

Related Stories

La Ninas distant effects in East Africa

Aug 04, 2011

For 20 000 years, climate variability in East Africa has been following a pattern that is evidently a remote effect of the ENSO phenomenon (El Niño Southern Oscillation) known as El Niño/La Niña. ...

Recommended for you

Erosion may trigger earthquakes

Nov 21, 2014

Researchers from laboratories at Géosciences Rennes (CNRS/Université de Rennes 1), Géosciences Montpellier (CNRS/Université de Montpellier 2) and Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), ...

Strong undersea earthquake hits eastern Indonesia

Nov 21, 2014

A strong undersea earthquake hit off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage and officials said it was unlikely to trigger a tsunami.

User comments : 24

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarE
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 19, 2013
Some of the urine records go back as far as 50,000 years.

More bad news for the Denialists.
Maggnus
2.4 / 5 (14) Feb 19, 2013
Nothing but bad news for them over several articles now.
FrankHerbertWhines
1 / 5 (17) Feb 19, 2013
i know you are both sockpuppets, i just don;t know who your master is.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (17) Feb 19, 2013
Oh what a surprise, the global warming alarmist turds are now using piss to promote their agenda. Don't be surprised if they find a hockey stick in there.
obama_socks
1.4 / 5 (18) Feb 19, 2013
LOL
"The rock hyrax actually looks similar to a groundhog but is more closely related to the elephant—it lives in Africa and Asia and doesn't travel."

Of course...the close relationship to an elephant is quite evident. Two eyes, two ears, 2 legs and 2 forepaws; even the nose may even grow into an elephant-type trunk...in a million years.
:))

Maggnus is most likely a sock puppet of Theghostofotto1923 that has taken the place of FrankHerbert and all its variations. (see my Profile for Blotto's sock puppet's names.)
mountain_team_guy
1.4 / 5 (19) Feb 19, 2013
Yeah VD. You too can get some of that Climate money. Maybe you can come up with a scheme to quantify climate hysteria and showcase the inevitable mental deterioration.
Excalibur
2.8 / 5 (20) Feb 20, 2013
As usual, the denialists are pissing into the wind.
VendicarE
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 20, 2013
Sad that you don't know how to capitalize the first word in your sentences.

"i know you are both sockpuppets," - Whiner

I note that it is a common failure among uneducated Conservatives.
VendicarE
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 20, 2013
Quite frankly, I find money abhorrent, and even more abhorrent that I am forced to live in a society where I am forced to use it.

I've always had a honest dislike for it and those who value it over reality, honesty and morality.

"Yeah VD. You too can get some of that Climate money." - DenialistTeamGuy

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks

Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science

http://www.guardi...-network
VendicarE
4 / 5 (4) Feb 20, 2013
As every day passes, we learn that sox denies more and more science.

It now appears to live almost entirely in a land of self manufactured fantasy.

"LOL... Two eyes, two ears, 2 legs and 2 forepaws" - SmellySox

"Hyraxes are sometimes described as being the closest living relative to the elephant.[15] Although relatively closely related, not all scientists support the proposal that hyraxes are the "closest" living relative of the elephant. Recent morphological and molecular-based classifications reveal the sirenians to be the closest living relatives of elephants, while hyraxes are closely related, but form an outgroup to the assemblage of elephants, sirenians, and extinct orders such as Embrithopoda and Desmostylia." - http://en.wikiped...ki/Hyrax
VendicarE
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 20, 2013
Physcial evidence is where you find it.

"Oh what a surprise, the global warming alarmist turds are now using piss to promote their agenda." - Antigorical

None is found in your bible of course, or your ConservaTard political platform.

obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (16) Feb 20, 2013
As every day passes, we learn that sox denies more and more science.

It now appears to live almost entirely in a land of self manufactured fantasy.

"LOL... Two eyes, two ears, 2 legs and 2 forepaws" - SmellySox

"Hyraxes are sometimes described as being the closest living relative to the elephant.[15] Although relatively closely related, not all scientists support the proposal that hyraxes are the "closest" living relative of the elephant. Recent morphological and molecular-based classifications reveal the sirenians to be the closest living relatives of elephants, while hyraxes are closely related, but form an outgroup to the assemblage of elephants, sirenians, and extinct orders such as Embrithopoda and Desmostylia." - http://en.wikiped...ki/Hyrax
-VendietardietardtardE

In reality, I have never denied science per se. But the fact is that science is ever-changing, and what is determined today as valid can just as well change tomorrow if something better is discovered.
obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (16) Feb 20, 2013
Vendietardietardtard...E takes a small sample of what I posted and omits the rest of it so that he can put his own little twist on it. Here is my original post, partially that is:
"Of course...the close relationship to an elephant is quite evident. Two eyes, two ears, 2 legs and 2 forepaws; even the nose may even grow into an elephant-type trunk...in a million years. :))"

Quite evidently, tardietardtard...E chose to omit the "in a million years" et al, and the smiley face with the double chins. This omission of key words out of my post gives tardietardtard...E a rare opportunity to provide himself a small amount of mirth with the expectation of virtual back slapping from some who cheer silently every time VDtardietardE says something childish to indicate that another one has bitten the dust. Poor poor VD...hopelessly immature for the remainder of his existence.

The jury is still out as far as AGW. Warming and melting of ice can be caused by a combination of possibilities.
Steven_Anderson
2.1 / 5 (15) Feb 20, 2013
What I would really like to see is the list of billionaires that donate to anti-climate change foundations. They are a bunch of cowards and won't let everyone know who they are. I am willing to bet it's a list largely composed of those who make money in the oil and gas industries. (Not that that's anything but obvious) It's too bad there is no way to find out who they are. I think a "We the People" Petition for full disclosure should be setup. I think that will be my next we the people petition. http://rawcell.com
deepsand
2.3 / 5 (18) Feb 20, 2013
The jury is still out as far as AGW.

Only the jury in the peanut gallery.

Warming and melting of ice can be caused by a combination of possibilities.

And one such cause which is known to now be in play is increased radiative forcing owing to increased atmospheric levels of CO2 resulting from human activities.

Ignoring that is an act of intellectual dishonesty.
djr
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 20, 2013
"Of course...the close relationship to an elephant is quite evident. Two eyes, two ears, 2 legs and 2 forepaws; even the nose may even grow into an elephant-type trunk...in a million years.
:))"

So what was the point of your post Sox? It seemed to me that you were laughing at the suggestion the Hyrax could be a close relative of the Elephant - and that you were taking a jab at the authors of this article. Seems like your post was fair game for a rebuttle.
djr
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 20, 2013
Can't we all be more polite and civilized in our discussion? Well unless the rudeness is on the part of the anti-science mob - then it is perfectly acceptable - as demonstrated by total silence in response the the post quoted below - in which case it is perfectly appropriate to refer to the authors of an article as 'turds' without actually discussing any science.

"Oh what a surprise, the global warming alarmist turds are now using piss to promote their agenda." - Antigorical
VendicarE
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 21, 2013
"They are a bunch of cowards and won't let everyone know who they are." - Steven Anderson

The ATM for Climate Denial: Secretive Donors Trust Funds Vast Network of Global Warming Skeptics

http://www.democr...ecretive
obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (15) Feb 21, 2013
"Of course...the close relationship to an elephant is quite evident. Two eyes, two ears, 2 legs and 2 forepaws; even the nose may even grow into an elephant-type trunk...in a million years.
:))"

So what was the point of your post Sox? It seemed to me that you were laughing at the suggestion the Hyrax could be a close relative of the Elephant - and that you were taking a jab at the authors of this article. Seems like your post was fair game for a rebuttle.
-djr

Yes, of course I was laughing at the suggestion, due mainly to the obvious differences in size, appearance, habitat, and that they urinate in one area...whereas elephants pee wherever and whenever they feel the urge to go.
I was not taking a jab at the researchers, as I regard all manner of research as equally important no matter the type and the reason. In that instance, it is a research geared toward climate science that, hopefully, is not solely for the purpose of condemning Anthropogenic cause and effect (contd)

obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (15) Feb 21, 2013
(contd)
without considering ALL other possibilities such as vulcanism, stronger solar radiation effects, hydrothermal and geothermal heat and production of methane, CO2 and other gases from the Earth. and normal cyclical weather that may be ramped up for whatever reason. Our planet is a dynamo of activity, and it cares not one bit for our inconvenience and fears. Even an ever-so-slight shift of the Earth toward the Sun or away from it could cause calamitous problems for life.

Honest climatologists would consider ALL possibilities that affect warming and melting and pollutants, while DISHONEST climatologists will concentrate mainly on AGW and regard all other possibilities as an afterthought, if even that.

But in spite of GHG and global warming, humanity will ALWAYS REQUIRE a way to warm our homes and provide power for appliances, vehicles, etc. When alternative energy has become completely efficient and productive as to our requirements, that is when fossil fuels are no longer used.
djr
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 21, 2013
Sox - "I was not taking a jab at the researchers" OK - so that is now clear - so the point was - Elephants are big, Hyrax are small - therefore it is news to Sox, and therefore funny - that they could be closely related from a genetic point of view.

"Honest climatologists would consider ALL possibilities " If I am investigating a homicide - I will of course consider all possibilities in terms of the cause of death - perhaps the individual was struck by a meteor. But I will surely focus my efforts on the most probable cause - being the gaping knife wound in the persons chest cavity. So honest scientists do keep an open mind, but also understand issues of evidence, and cause and effect - correct?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (18) Feb 21, 2013
Quite frankly, I find money abhorrent, and even more abhorrent that I am forced to live in a society where I am forced to use it.
Yah I understand canadians prefer trading pelts and smokes for pemmican and services like snow plowing and other stuff eh?
VendicarE
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2013
Naah... Canadians perfer screwing.

"Yah I understand canadians prefer trading pelt" - Otto

Americans can keep their pelts.
VendicarE
2 / 5 (4) Feb 22, 2013
I'm pretty sure, urination habits are not part of what one considers when consiering species lineage.

But given reports that many Americans drink their own, I'm pretty sure that I share no close lineage with them.

http://www.youtub...UV8UXsTI

"Yes, of course I was laughing at the suggestion, due mainly to the obvious differences in size, appearance, habitat, and that they urinate in one area...whereas elephants pee wherever and whenever they feel the urge to go." - Sox

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.