Unique fossil discovery shows Antarctic was once much warmer

Antarctic Ostracod
Figure of the fossil ostracod from the Dry Valleys. The specimen is less than 1 mm long, but preserves an array of soft tissues including legs and mouth parts. The head end is to the right. The specimen comes from a fossil lake in the Dry Valleys of the Antarctic. The lake sediments have been dated at 14 million years old (Middle Miocene). This is the only fossil of its kind from the Antarctic, and is special from the point of view of fossilization style and for its implications about a warmer tundra climate persisting here in the Miocene. Image: Mark Williams, University of Leicester

A new fossil discovery- the first of its kind from the whole of the Antarctic continent- provides scientists with new evidence to support the theory that the polar region was once much warmer.

The discovery by an international team of scientists is published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It involved researchers from the University of Leicester, North Dakota State University, the British Geological Survey, Queen Mary University of London, and Boston University.

The team made a new fossil discovery in the Dry Valleys of the East Antarctic region. The fossils (ostracods) come from an ancient lake - 14 million years old - and are exceptionally well preserved, with all of their soft anatomy in 3-dimensions.

Dr Mark Williams from the Department of Geology at the University of Leicester said: "This is a rare occurrence in the fossil record - but is the first of its kind from the whole of the Antarctic continent.

"Notwithstanding the significance of the fossil preservation, the presence of lake ostracods at this latitude, 77 degrees south, is also of great note. Present conditions in this Antarctic region show mean annual temperatures of minus 25 degrees C. These are impossible conditions to sustain a lake fauna with ostracods."

"The fossils therefore show that there has been a substantial and very intense cooling of the Antarctic climate after this time interval that is important for tracking the development of the Antarctic icesheet – a key factor in understanding the effects of global warming.

"The fossil ostracods of the Dry Valleys signal a high latitude lake viable for animal colonisation that indicates a dramatic change in the climate of this region, from tundra conditions 14 million years ago, to the intensely cold continental interior climate experienced today."

The researchers point out that there is no evidence to suggest the fossil discovery points to a once widespread Antarctic lake ostracod fauna: "It is most likely their introduction was by chance, perhaps via birds as dispersal of ostracod eggs attached to the feathers or feet of migratory birds is an important influence on modern ostracod distribution."

The ostracods were discovered by Richard Thommasson, an undergraduate student, during screening of the sediment in Prof. Allan Ashworth's lab at North Dakota State University.

Source: University of Leicester

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Antarctic fossils paint a picture of a much warmer continent

Citation: Unique fossil discovery shows Antarctic was once much warmer (2008, July 23) retrieved 23 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2008-07-unique-fossil-discovery-antarctic-warmer.html
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Jul 23, 2008
This is the second rticle of late on the "theory" that antarctica was once warm. Ive known this since I was 4 years old, ever since I read it in my little dinosaur book. There were pictures of fossilized palm trees from antarctica. Are these guys for real? Is there anubody out there who diddnt already know this?

Jul 23, 2008
What they are saying is that it is the first 3D soft-tissue fossil from antarctica. See
for the actual release.

Jul 23, 2008
I too understood in grammar school that Antarctica was much warmer prehistorically. The heading uses the verb "shows", while the article uses the phrase "provides new evidence". The headline is perhaps misleading, but the phrase in the article is an example of how Tom, Dick and Harry projects attempt to aggrandize their findings by saying "Our discovery agrees with the top existing theory." It's doublespeak for: "In this respect, we didn't find anything new."

This discovery is interesting in other ways, which the article does get around to. That's what the article should be about. The doublespeak?...We need our scientific projects to stop playing to the audience's applause.

Jul 23, 2008
so if the antarctic was MUCH MUCH warmer in the past what does that say about the earth in general at that time and the tiny bit of warming that the earth experienced a few years ago?

Jul 23, 2008
I'm hoping the Antarctic has some ancient Neanderthal DNA. Woot!

Jul 23, 2008
It was warmer until Noah's flood! Duh.

Jul 23, 2008
The plates have been bumping around the surface of the planet for a billion years at least. The interesting thing set out here is that only 14 million years ago, parts of Antarctica were significantly warmer than now. That is not enough time for a plate to move from, say the tropics, to the polar regions. So a climate change is indicated, rather than a positional one. Or perhaps, a some of both.

Jul 24, 2008
What it says about the 'little bit of warming of a few years ago' is that in the grand scheme of the earth, even if we caused all of that warming we are insignificant so far. But then even an ice-age tells us that, and we had one of those only 10,000 years ago!

However we might not like a change even the size of an ice-age, for our civilization is adapted to the climate we have now. So we should learn how to control OUR climate so that nature (with or without our help) doesn't dump an ice age or a tropical arctic/antarctic on us.

What eco-freaks forget is that all that carbon is what made the ecosystem much richer in the past.

On the other hand what the climate deniers forget is that if it is NOT us changing the climate, then it is even more important to gain control of the thermostat, simply for self defense.

Jul 24, 2008
And do please remember boys,that carbon was coined to depict the element that is and was a plant carbohydrate and can be heat bonded or not bonded,and that we are not going to control the cycles of the universes processes by our wishes or lowering our carbons outputs.

That is just science nonsense,and the sad thing is that even the NASA idiots believe the opposite,I still call for Hansen and his idiots to be fired and /or be arrested for eco-terrorism,and the morons that claim Phd. Status in climate science to be retrained.

I laugh at my office to my staff that they claim to be tasked to repair the excess carbons and get in Jet aircraft and deplete our ozone to have their special meetings at the perfect vacation spot for the season,and claim thatWE must reduce OUR process,but definitely not theirs.

Methinks the Twilight zone has not ended,it just tasks on.

There is a cymatic ring at the 48 thousand level to help the gases stay on the planet and of course at the 96 and on up mathematically that attempts to hold our ozone in also and when the military and commercial idiots fly through it and create leaks and apply their fuel componentry,they deplete our ozone,and you climate idiots assist them,which is why I call you morons as I have shared this information before and you boys just stare into open space,with a dumb look on your face,Ya'll might try chelating the salts from the Nazi flouride treatments from your dot area as a start.

Jul 24, 2008
Mmm, chelated Nazi flouride salts... ahhhh

*stares into open space*

Jul 24, 2008
Methinks the twilight zone is where that egotistical and strangely homo-erotic moonbat, earthscientist comes from.

Jul 24, 2008
Okay ,you two boys,now I understand even better that this site is trolled by morons. You poor boys do not do your homework,and that is not my fault,just yours.

Did Ja eat your super Wheaties with milk this morning??

I guess this is the Kiddie site for propaganda,and I make the kiddies cry.

Jul 24, 2008
laughs hysterically.

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