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Diffusion of Species

30 October 2017

Jovan sent in a couple of pieces from the journal Science as they may have a bearing on Alan de Queroz's 'The Monkey's Voyage' (2014). The puzzle is the origin of monkeys in the New World – how did they get there? It is thought they evolved in Africa. A land bridge has been suggested. However, the Atlantic may have been a third narrower than now but it would require a massive lowering of sea level in order to create a land bridge. The other option suggested was a raft of vegetation – somewhat like the flotsam washed up in North America recently from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami wave a few years ago.

Jovan forwarded two articles in Science journal (29th September 2017, number 357 issue 6358). The first one is a short piece on page 6356 – on tsunami debris from Japan turning up in N America 6 years afterwards, and the second is the full article on page 1402, with the title 'Tsunami drives rafting: transoceanic species dispersal and implications for marine biogeography' – by JT Carlton et al (and team). It seems a lot of stuff ended up on the other side of the Pacific – including shallow water coastal life forms from Japanese waters hitching a lift on debris. The elephant in the room is the said debris was human waste – mostly carbon fibre or polystyrene foam. They are saying this kind of buoyant material allowed the life forms to survive – for 6 years at sea. They looked at historical earthquakes and tsunami events and there was no evidence anywhere that similar coastal life forms had survived an ocean going spell at sea. It was simply the fact that is was plastic or carbon fibre that allowed it to happen in this instance. The conclusion was that it had never occurred on earlier occasions which is more or less saying monkeys hitching a ride on vegetation rafts is unlikely to be the source of origin of monkeys in South and Central America. To add insult to injury it ends with the compulsory hand wave to CAGW. Human waste (plastics) is a major problem and as climate change takes effect there will be more and more storms, etc (you know the kind of thing, parroting the required words in order to obtain a research grant.

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