The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was a time of increased ocean and atmospheric temperatures. Naturally, the rise in temperature resulted in changes in paleo-terrestrial and paleo-marine environments. Studying the variations in shell size of Discoaster multiradiatus, a planktonic organism that creates its shell out of calcium carbonate, gives insight into the effects of the changing paleo-marine environments during the PETM.
The Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) not only is a benchmark for climactic changes in the earth’s history, but it is also a benchmark for change in the diversity of marine fauna. This has been shown in the benthic extinction event (BEE) deposited in the exposed Paleocene-Eocene sediments of Alamedilla, Spain. Scientists from the Universidad de Zaragosa of Zaragosa, Spain and University College of London, United Kingdom documented the benthic extinction event associated with the carbon isotope excursion (CIE) at Alamedilla to use as a model of paleoenvironmental consequences of the PETM.
Two apparent “tool-kits” – which were found to be made of shells rich in ochre – were discovered in Cape Town, South Africa this month. The artifacts are estimated at 100,000 years old. Scientists have gathered that the ochre kits could have been used for decorating the bodies or clothing of the users. They could have also been used for painting or skin protection (Science Daily).
As a student of biology, I have looked at the origin of humans through a genetic lens but haven’t delved specifically into the paleontology of the issue. My future posts will focus on my path to decipher the paleontological record of our earliest ancestors and how they spread across the globe.
I found a great interactive site provided by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Three days ago, a dinosaur hatchling (actually found 14 years ago in Maryland) made the news as being identified as a new genus and species – Propanoplosaurus marylandicus — “that lived in the Early Cretaceous Era about 110 million years ago” (Msnbc.com). By the bumps and grooves on the hatchling nodosaur’s skull, they determined its age, species, cause of death (drowning) and say that this find will definitely motivate further searches for Maryland dinosaurs as well as further analysis of those already previously found there.