Lost continent of Balkanatolia is rediscovered after 40 million years

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The Lost Continent of Eurasia: How Balkan Atolia Allowed Asian Mammals to Colonize Europe 40 Million Years Ago

  • Forgotten continent that includes today’s Balkans and Anatolia is rediscovered
  • Sandwiched between Europe, Africa and Asia and called Balkanatolia by scientists
  • They think mammals from Asia could colonize Europe 34 million years ago
  • Balkanatolia had exotic fauna and was separated from adjacent continents

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An old forgotten continent that was wedged between Europe, Africa and Asia has been rediscovered.

It covers the present day Balkans and Anatolia and has been called Balkanatolia by researchers.

They say the continent allowed Asian mammals to colonize Europe about 34 million years ago, having previously separated them from neighboring continents.

However, a major ice age 34 million years ago likely led to the formation of the Antarctic ice sheet, lowering sea levels and connecting Balkan Atolia to Western Europe, the team said.

A lost continent wedged between Europe, Africa and Asia has been rediscovered.  It covers the present day Balkans and Anatolia and is called Balkanatolia (photo)

A lost continent wedged between Europe, Africa and Asia has been rediscovered. It covers the present day Balkans and Anatolia and is called Balkanatolia (photo)

WHAT WAS THE GRANDE COUPURE?

The Grande Coupure was an extinction event that happened about 34 million years ago.

It saw more than two-thirds of the mammals in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula disappear during the Eocene-Oligocene transition, a period characterized by global cooling and falling sea levels.

In Eurasia, these global environmental impacts led to a mass extinction of marine organisms, plants and terrestrial animals.

It has been largely attributed to the influx of Asian mammals, but fossil evidence has suggested that certain Asian mammals were present in southern Europe 5 to 10 million years before the Grande Coupure.

Now, researchers led by the CNRS think they have the answer.

They have rediscovered a forgotten continent sandwiched between Europe, Africa and Asia.

It covers the present day Balkans and Anatolia and is also known as Balkanatolia.

The experts think that Balkan Atolia was separated from neighboring continents until an ice age lowered sea levels and connected Balkan Atolia with Western Europe.

This may have allowed Asian mammals to colonize the continent and led to the Grande Coupure.

As a result, more than two-thirds of mammals in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula disappeared during the Eocene-Oligocene transition, a period characterized by global cooling and falling sea levels.

In Eurasia, these global environmental impacts led to a mass extinction of marine organisms, plants and terrestrial animals, known in Europe as the ‘Grande Coupure’.

For millions of years during the Eocene, Western Europe and Eastern Asia formed two distinct landmasses with very different mammalian faunas.

European forests were home to native fauna such as Palaeotheres – an extinct group distantly related to modern-day horses, but more like today’s tapirs – while Asia was populated by a more diverse fauna, including the mammal families found on both continents today. found.

About 34 million years ago, Western Europe was colonized by Asian species, leading to a major renewal of the vertebrate fauna and the extinction of the native mammals – an event called the Grande Coupure.

However, fossils found in the Balkans indicate that Asian mammals were present in southern Europe 5 to 10 million years before the Grande Coupure, pointing to an earlier colonization that has puzzled scientists.

Now the team of French, American and Turkish paleontologists and geologists led by CNRS researchers believe they have the answer.

They discovered a new fossil deposit in Turkey (Büyükteflek) from 38 to 35 million years ago, yielding mammals whose affinity was clearly Asian, and which are the earliest discovered in Anatolia to date.

They also found jaw fragments of Brontotheres, animals resembling large rhinoceroses that died out at the end of the Eocene.

It led them to conclude that Balkanatolia was colonized by Asian mammals 40 million years ago due to geographical changes that are not yet fully understood.

The researchers believe that a major ice age some six million years later lowered sea levels, connecting Balkan Atolia with Western Europe and allowing Asian mammals to colonize the continent.

Researchers found a new fossil deposit in Turkey from 38 to 35 million years ago, yielding mammals whose affinity was distinctly Asian, and are the earliest discovered in Anatolia to date.

Researchers found a new fossil deposit in Turkey from 38 to 35 million years ago, yielding mammals whose affinity was distinctly Asian, and are the earliest discovered in Anatolia to date.

Researchers found a new fossil deposit in Turkey from 38 to 35 million years ago, yielding mammals whose affinity was distinctly Asian, and are the earliest discovered in Anatolia to date.

They also found jaw fragments belonging to the pictured Brontotheres), animals resembling large rhinoceroses that became extinct at the end of the Eocene.

They also found jaw fragments belonging to the pictured Brontotheres), animals resembling large rhinoceroses that became extinct at the end of the Eocene.

They also found jaw fragments belonging to the pictured Brontotheres), animals resembling large rhinoceroses that became extinct at the end of the Eocene.

“We show that this dispersal event may coincide with the precursors of faunal changes in western Europe that predate the Grande Coupure, thus indicating the start of a southern route for Eurasian dispersal as early as the late middle Eocene,” the authors wrote. in their paper.

They said this marked the end of the end of Balkanatolie with its own different native species.

It may also have led to Asian mammals to colonize Europe and led to the Grande Coupure.

A comparable turnover in the Asian fauna has since been referred to as the ‘Mongolian Remodelling’.

The study is published in the journal Earth Science Reviews.

WHAT WAS THE EOCENE POCH?

The Eocene is the second of five Tertiary epochs — the second of three Paleogene epochs — and lasted from about 55.8 to 33.9 million years ago.

The oldest known fossils of most modern mammalian orders appear in a short period of time during the early Eocene, and they were all small, under 10 kg.

Both groups of modern ungulates, Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla, became common mammals at that time, as a result of a large radiation between Europe and North America.

The Early Eocene (Ypres) is thought to have the highest annual mean temperatures of the entire Cenozoic, with temperatures around 30°C.

It also had relatively low temperature gradients from pole to pole and high rainfall in a world that was essentially ice-free.

There were land connections between Antarctica and Australia, between North America and Europe via Greenland and probably between North America and Asia via the Bering Strait.

It was an important time of plate boundary realignment, changing the patterns of spreading centers and transformation faults, causing significant effects on oceanic and atmospheric circulation and temperature.

In the middle of the Eocene, the separation of Antarctica and Australia created a deep water passage between those two continents, creating the circum-Antarctic Current.

This changed oceanic circulation patterns and global heat transport, resulting in a global cooling observed at the end of the Eocene.

By the late Eocene, the new ocean circulation resulted in a significantly lower annual mean temperature, with greater variability and seasonality worldwide.

The lower temperatures and increased seasonality allowed for larger mammalian body sizes and caused a shift to increasingly open savanna-like vegetation, with a corresponding reduction in forests.

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