A 22-million-year-old lost forest reappears in the Panama Canal!
Nature
15.01.2024 Panama   53
A 22-million-year-old lost forest reappears in the Panama Canal!

In a remarkable discovery, scientists have discovered a mysterious, long-lost world that was reported to have disappeared from Earth in a volcanic eruption approximately 22 million years ago.


The rediscovery took place in the Panama Canal, where Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have stumbled upon a lost forest on Barro Colorado Island, discovering that it is home to a species now absent from our planet.


The vast mangrove forest on Barro Colorado Island is a unique The discovery of a scientific group allows us to look into a bygone era. This discovery will take you back to the Miocene era, about 23 million years ago, when the South American and Caribbean plates collided, forming the topography of modern Panama and Central America.


Following this geological collision, a gradual transformation occurred, leading from hill to hill and eventually giving rise to an island in the vast expanse of the ocean - Barro Colorado Island.


Its periphery is dotted with tall trees, reaching an impressive height of up to 130 feet, forming a lush forest.< /p>

Studies of sediment samples from the island have proven useful to scientists. They found that the area provided an ideal habitat for ancient mangrove species, excluding the presence of other tree species.


The unique ecological system gave rise to forests in regions where fresh and sea water mixed. Notably, during the Miocene epoch, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations soared well above modern levels, which are estimated to be at least 500 ppmv (parts per million by volume), as opposed to today's approximately 400 ppmv. This increased concentration allowed these ancient mangroves to grow to enormous sizes unrivaled by their modern counterparts.


The team, delving into the scientific intricacies of their discovery, discovered 121 preserved pieces of wood in the creek on Barro Colorado Island. They christened this ancient mangrove species Sonneratioxylon barrocoloradoensis. The genus Sonneratioxylon pays homage to an extant group of species, and the last part of the name refers to the island on which it originated. Interestingly, although this mangrove species has distant relatives in modern Southeast Asia, the lack of other tree fossils near the island indicates the problems other species faced in surviving there.


Fossil Evidence proposed an explanation for the disappearance of mangrove forests, pointing to a volcanic eruption as the reason for its disappearance. This eruption caused a "lahar", an Indonesian term for an aggressive flow of water, mud, rocks and ash. Lahars, like a fast and vast blanket of wet concrete, have the ability to cover large areas almost instantly.


Their silica-rich waters, combined with fast currents, have played a key role in preserving fossils. The concrete-like cover prevented decomposition by allowing water to seep into the tissues of living organisms and leaving no room for plants and animals to rot.


This newly discovered ancient world on Barro Colorado Island is not not only provides a glimpse into a prehistoric ecosystem, but also explains how the interaction of geological forces and catastrophic events shaped the history of the Earth.

Source: timesofindia

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