(ORDO NEWS) — Once upon a time, the low-lying continent of Balkanatolia directly connected Asia with Western Europe. Scientists suggest that about 30 million years ago this place was home to exotic fauna, and it was Balkanatolia that “paved the way” for Asian mammals to Europe.
It’s hard to even imagine what our planet looked like millions of years ago!
Sandwiched between Europe, Africa and Asia, this forgotten continent became the gateway between Asia and Europe when sea levels dropped and a land bridge formed about 34 million years ago.
“We still don’t know exactly when and how the first wave of Asian mammals made it to southeastern Europe,” paleogeologist Alexis Licht writes in her new study.
The thing is that between 55 and 34 million years ago, Western Europe was separated from Central Asia, and that is why the animal world in these places was very different.
However, about 34 million years ago, an extinction occurred, and many of the primitive mammals of Europe were suddenly replaced by Asian inhabitants. Scientists do not quite understand how exactly mammals from Asia were able to get to Europe.
But a few years ago, scientists analyzed fossil finds in the Balkans that pointed to a “peculiar” bioregion that apparently allowed Asian mammals to colonize southeastern Europe 5 to 10 million years before the extinction event occurred.
The French National Center for Scientific Research decided to re-examine these finds in order to understand what happened in the past in the territory of the modern Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia.
By revisiting the age of these sites, the team reconstructed the paleogeographic changes that occurred in a region that has a “complex history of episodic flooding and re-emergence.”
As a result, the authors of the work found that Balkanatolia was the starting point for the movement of animals from Asia to Western Europe. The analysis showed that about 50 million years ago this territory was an isolated archipelago, separated from neighboring continents, where unique animals flourished.
But swings in sea level, the rise of the Antarctic ice sheets and tectonic shifts connected this continent to Western Europe between 40-34 million years ago. This allowed the Asian mammals to travel west and invade Balkanatolia.
The authors summarize that the way to Europe through Balkanatolia was more favorable for animals. Another migration route ran through Central Asia, at that time it was covered with dry, cool desert steppes.
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