Rare fossils found in Australia

araignée fossile

Lagerstätte (German: storage space) is a fossil site with a large number of specimens and / or pieces of exceptional quality. It’s such a place McGrath’s Flat, It has been explored for 3 years Central Plateau, New South Wales area near the city Gulkong, Australia. Its discovery was announced in the press on January 7, 2022 Scientific advances, By archaeologists who secretly excavated the site to avoid “hunting” for fossils and possible degradation.

Thousands of fossils

The fossils in it date back to the Miocene 11 to 14 million years ago. At the time, it was a semi-humid tropical forest providing small lakes. It was once the ecosystem of the region and then it dried up. The site is home to many unknown creatures such as spiders, giant cicadas, other insects and many plants. The whole is properly preserved: it was possible to distinguish certain parts by examining them with an electron microscope. Individual cells of plants and animals and sometimes even tiny substructure. “, To explain In a statement by Michael Freese of the University of Canberra. Thus, traces of melanosomes found in fish skin tissues and bird feathers provide an idea of ​​their original color.

Completely protected feather. Credit: Michael Freese.

Another interesting feature is some of these fossils It also protects the sources of interracial relationships. Thus, the contents of the stomachs of many fish are preserved, which allows to get an idea of ​​the respective food. Many insects attached pollen grains to their seed coatings, so it was possible to determine which species pollinated which plants.

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Signs of climate change

Many fossils McGrath’s flat iron, gothite-rich rock. It is not generally considered a source of “good fossils”. And very specific conditions must have prevailed during their training. Researchers speculate that the groundwater, which is rich in iron, may have formed if the animals living there were trapped or drained into the dead arm of a falling river.

If the plants and animals thus stored are common to the tropical forests of northern Australia, there are indications that climate change is taking place in the region. The pollen we found in the sediment suggests that there may have been arid habitats around the tropical rainforest, indicating a shift to arid conditions.“, Matthew McCurry of the University of Canberra and the first signatory of the dissertation, explains in the press release.

One of the fossils found was Matthew McCurry. Credit: Australian Museum.

During the Miocene, Australia actually underwent dramatic changes in its ecosystems. At the beginning of this period, 23 million years ago, was the island-continent Separated from Antarctica and South America and moving north, it was home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. But about 14 million years ago, there was a sudden change in the climate “Central Miocene Disruption” Caused widespread destruction.

Throughout the second half of the Miocene, Australia gradually became more and more arid, and tropical forests were transformed into arid shrubbery and desert areas, which now characterize the landscape. The recently discovered fossil site, McGrath’s Flat, provides unprecedented insights into what Australia’s ecosystem was like before this drought.

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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