Dinosaur fossils tell scientists how Pangea was born

(ORDO NEWS) — Sometimes it takes decades or even centuries for scientists to unravel the mysteries of some archaeological or anthropological mysteries. For example, this happened with a mummy whose appearance was recently reconstructed.

But this time we will focus on another find – the fossils of ancient four-legged amphibians, which were discovered in 1866. As it turned out later, the creatures belonged to the genus Keraterpeton. They lived about 320 million years ago.

At the same time, it remained a mystery why the fossils were badly deformed and mutilated. According to the main version, the animals were buried in acidic soil, as a result of which some of the bones simply dissolved.

However, a recent study showed that the deformation did not occur immediately, but after 20 million years, which excludes an acidic environment. And the reason for this is the formation of the mainland Pangea.

Ancient animal keraterpeton

Fossils of keraterpitons and some other creatures have been discovered in southern Ireland in County Kilkenny. They were in a seam of coal at the Jarrow complex.

According to University College Cork, Keratherpetons were small creatures, about the size of a palm. Outwardly, they resembled modern salamanders, and had pointed dragon-like horns.

Unfortunately, due to the severe deformation, it is difficult for scientists to determine exactly what the fossils looked like originally. Many of the bones were completely gone, in their place was just coal. For this reason, they are difficult to separate from the surrounding coal.

The bones are also reported to contain many apatite crystals and volcanic rocks. By the way, it was these crystals (phosphate minerals) that gave scientists a hint about why the fossils were severely deformed.

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Deformed keraterpiton fossils

How was Pangea formed?

The Earth‘s crust, as you know, is not solid, but is a separate blocks that float freely on top of the molten middle mantle. As the plates moved across the planet, the continents of the Earth moved away from each other, then moved closer.

It is known that at least twice they united, forming a single supercontinent. The last time this happened was 300 million years ago, when the supercontinent Pangea was formed, as we talked about in an article on the largest ocean in the history of our planet.

Pangea did not last long. The continents began to separate again between 195-170 million years ago.

It would seem, what do the fossils of an ancient creature have to do with the emergence of the Pangea supercontinent on Earth?

A team of scientists report that apatite formed in the bones of fossil animals 20 million years after they died. That is about 300 million years ago. It was at this time that Pangea began to form on our planet as a result of the collision of the continents.

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The supercontinent Pangea formed about 300 million years ago

Chemical analysis of apatite showed that it arose in the bones under the influence of liquids heated to extremely high temperatures. But where did these liquids come from?

According to the researchers, they began to rise to the surface when all the ancient continents began to move and collide with each other. After the collision occurred, mountain belts formed, from which hot underground liquids flowed.

A mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges located on the border of tectonic plates. According to the study’s lead author, Aodhan O Gogain, these fluids flowed throughout what is now Ireland. As a result, they melted and welded fossils that had previously lain in the bowels of 20 million years.

Thus, scientists were able to find out not only why the fossils of ancient creatures found in the Jarrow complex turned out to be deformed, but also what processes took place on the young supercontinent Pangea.

According to the authors of the work, the Jarrow complex is of great scientific importance, and is also an important element of Ireland’s geo-heritage. Further research into the Jarrow fossils will reveal more about how the supercontinent formed 300 million years ago.


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