In the course of the Eocene Epoch, which spanned 55 million to 34 million decades in the past, Europe and Asia were being residence to distinctly diverse types of mammals. At the conclude of the Eocene, however, there was a extraordinary shift.
“A lot of animals that experienced been residing in Europe for tens of millions of decades and were being undertaking fine went extinct,” Beard explained. “They got changed by mammals that evidently had no ancestral varieties in Europe.”
The discovery of fossilized remains with seemingly inexplicable origins instructed that the place had been through profound paleogeographic improvements around time.
“There were being hints that something genuinely bizarre was heading on,” Beard stated. “Some of the animals that were being inhabiting Balkanatolia just never arise wherever else. And then the combinations of animals dwelling there failed to reside with each other anywhere else.”
The scientists found that roughly 50 million several years in the past, Balkanatolia existed as an island continent, individual from its neighbors. The landmass experienced its very own one of a kind fauna, distinctive from the animals that inhabited Europe and Asia.
Commencing close to 40 million several years back, a mixture of tectonic shifts, increasing ice sheets and fluctuating sea amounts joined Balkanatolia initially to Asia and then linked the continent to southern Europe, building a large land bridge throughout the location.
“At that time, the sea stages dropped by 70 meters [about 230 feet], which is huge,” reported Alexis Licht, a scientist at the French National Heart for Scientific Exploration, who led the analyze. “This occasion by yourself would have developed quite a few land bridges, and it truly is the most important hypothesis to demonstrate the link concerning Balkanatolia and Europe.”
Licht claimed fossils found in Turkey courting again 35 million to 38 million many years back also propose that the circulation of Asian mammals into southern Europe might have occurred before than was earlier thought — up to various million years ahead of the Grande Coupure extinction party. Among the Turkish fossils had been jaw fragments from Brontotheres, a mammal that resembled a big rhinoceros that died out at the conclusion of the Eocene Epoch.
“The internet site in Turkey assisted ensure and validate our hypothesis mainly because this time body fits every thing else we have observed in the Balkans,” Licht reported.
But even though Balkanatolia will help paint a cohesive narrative of the distribution of mammals across Eurasia, numerous queries remain unanswered. For a single, it can be not very well understood what drove the tectonic shifts that altered sea ranges at the time, resulting in components of the misplaced continent to develop into submerged and then re-exposed.
The scientists are also hoping to locate more mature fossils in the region, dating back more than 50 million years, which could shed light-weight on Balkanatolia’s early background. These clues could aid the scientists have an understanding of how the missing continent’s own assortment of mammals acquired there in the to start with place.
“We have animals on Balkanatolia dwelling aspect by side that never ever cohabitate anyplace else on Earth,” Beard stated. “How did that come about? How did this weird, distinctive island get assembled?”