Discovery of a fossilized giant rhino bone defies isolation of Anatolia

March 11th, 2008 - 1:56 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Mar 11 (ANI): The belief that Anatolia, a geographic region bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west, and the bulk of the Asian mainland to the east, was geographically isolated 25 million years ago (during the Oligocene epoch), has now been shaken after an analysis of the first fossilized giant rhinocerotoid bone discovered in 2002 in an Anatolian deposit during a Franco-Turkish paleontology expedition.

The discovery of this bone in Anatolia, with the remains of associated fauna, indicates animal migrations between Europe and Asia . This discovery thus, questions the isolation of Anatolia , which until now was considered to have been an archipelago.

This was the first time that a fossilized giant rhinocerotoid bone dating from the Oligocene epoch (a period corresponding to intense tectonic movements around the Mediterranean Sea) has been found in Anatolia .

The discovery proves the existence of terrestrial communication and close links at that period between Europe (including France ) and Asia ( China , Mongolia , Pakistan ). Thus, during the Oligocene epoch, Anatolia was not isolated by the sea and was at least an isthmus: animals could thus cross on dry land from continental Asia to Anatolia .

Besides, this discovery also tends to confirm that there was surely a separation from Africa, as no species of African affinity has been found in the Oligocene soils of Anatolia till date.

This bone found in the region of CankiriCorum (Central Anatolia, Turkey), fragment from the forearm (radius) described by the scientists measures 1.20 meters long and seems to be of a very large male (about 5 meters to the shoulder), ascribed to the Paraceratherium genus.

These herbivorous animals, also called baluchitheres or indricotheres, are believed to have been the largest terrestrial mammals that ever existed, equal in size to the largest mammoths (with a height to the shoulder estimated to be 5 meters or more, and a body weight of 15 to 20 tons).

In fact, this specimen of Paraceratherium, known to have existed notably in Pakistan , China , Mongolia and Kazakhstan , the remains of ruminants and rodents were also found in the deposit.

Thus it was possible to date the specimen to about 25 million years, and it also exhibited close affinities with contemporary fauna in Asia and/or Europe .

This observation is particularly surprising because Anatolia was until now considered to have been an archipelago at that time, separated from both Europe and Asia by what is referred to as the Paratethys Sea, whose only remnants are the Black, Caspian and Aral seas today.

The study is published online in the recent issue of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. (ANI)

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