Balkanatolia: The Forgotten Continent That Sheds Light on the Evolution of Mammals
- A group of geologists and paleontologists has actually found that, some 50 million years earlier, there was a low-lying continent separating Europe from Asia that they have actually called Balkanatolia.
- At the time, it was occupied by an endemic animals that was extremely various from those of Europe and Asia.
- Geographical modifications 40 to 34 million years ago linked this continent to its 2 next-door neighbors, leading the way for the replacement of European mammals by Asian mammals.
A group of French, American, and Turkish paleontologists and geologists led by CNRS scientists has actually found the presence of a forgotten continent they have actually called Balkanatolia, which today covers the contemporary Balkans andAnatolia Formerly occupied by an extremely particular animals, they think that it made it possible for mammals from Asia to colonize Europe 34 million years earlier. Their findings are released in the March 2022 volume of Earth-Science Reviews
For countless years throughout the Eocene Epoch (55 to 34 million years ago), Western Europe and Eastern Asia formed 2 unique landmasses with extremely various mammalian animals: European forests were house to endemic animals such as Palaeotheres (an extinct group distantly associated to contemporary horses, however more like today’s tapirs), whereas Asia was occupied by a more varied animals consisting of the mammal households discovered today on both continents.
We understand that, around 34 million years earlier, Western Europe was colonized by Asian types, resulting in a significant renewal of vertebrate animals and the termination of its endemic mammals, an abrupt occasion called the‘Grande Coupure’ Surprisingly, fossils discovered in the Balkans indicate the existence of Asian mammals in southern Europe long prior to the Grande Coupure, recommending earlier colonization.
Now, a group led by CNRS scientists has actually created a description for this paradox. To do this, they evaluated earlier palaeontological discoveries, a few of which go back to the 19 th century, often reassessing their dating in the light of existing geological information. The evaluation exposed that, for much of the Eocene, the area representing the contemporary Balkans and Anatolia was house to a terrestrial animals that was uniform, however unique from those of Europe and easternAsia This unique animals consisted of, for instance, marsupials of South American affinity and Embrithopoda (big herbivorous mammals looking like hippopotamuses) previously discovered inAfrica The area need to for that reason have actually comprised a single landmass, separated from the surrounding continents.
The group likewise found a brand-new fossil deposit in Turkey (Büyükteflek) dating from 38 to 35 million years earlier, which yielded mammals whose affinity was plainly Asian, and are the earliest found in Anatolia previously. They discovered jaw pieces coming from Brontotheres, animals looking like big rhinoceroses that passed away out at the end of the Eocene.
All this details made it possible for the group to detail the history of this 3rd Eurasian continent, wedged in between Europe, Africa, and Asia, which they calledBalkanatolia The continent, currently around 50 million years ago and house to a special animals, was colonized 40 million years earlier by Asian mammals as an outcome of geographical modifications that have yet to be completely comprehended. It promises that a significant glaciation 34 million years earlier, resulting in the development of the Antarctic ice sheet and decreasing water level, linked Balkanatolia to Western Europe, triggering the ‘Grande Coupure’.
- Working at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Environmental Geoscience (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Universit é/ IRD/INRAE) and at the Centre for Research on Palaeontology– Paris (CNRS/Museum nationwide d’Histoire naturelle/Sorbonne Universit é). Another French lab, Geosciences Rennes (CNRS/Universit é Rennes 1) likewise added to this research study, together with Kütahya Dumlup ınar and Eski şehir Osmangazi Universities (Turkey) and the universities of Washington, Connecticut, Kansas and Chicago (U.S.A.).
- Balkanatolia might be an antique of Greater Adria, another of the Mediterranean area’s ‘forgotten continents’, formed over 200 million years earlier, and exposed by restorations of the place of tectonic plates performed by Douwe van Hinsbergen et al. and released in a 2019 paper.
Reference: “Balkanatolia: The insular mammalian biogeographic province that partly paved the way to the Grande Coupure” by Alexis Licht, Gr égoire Métais, Pauline Coster, Deniz İbilioğlu, Faruk Ocako ğlu, Jan Westerweel, Megan Mueller, Clay Campbell, Spencer Mattingly, Melissa C. Wood and K. Christopher Beard, 21 January 2022, Earth-Science Reviews
DOI: 10.1016/ j.earscirev.2022103929