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Ice Age Devon

4 February 2022

Devon is famous for its red soil and its Cambrian period red rocks which colour that earth. However, fossils of extinct Ice Age animals such as the mammoth, rhinoceros, and the wolf, have turned up in a cave deposit, at Sherford in Plymouth. Similar deposits were discovered in caves not too far away, back in the 19th century – so not entirely a new thing in spite of the headline. In fact, a whole range of animals was found and include hyena, horse, reindeer, mountain hare, and red fox, among others. They are provisionally dated between 30 and 60,000 years ago. This is an interesting date yield as the Laschamp geomagnetic reversal event occurred around 42,000 years ago and is associated with mass die off events elsewhere in the world. Were the remains washed into the cave, we might ruminate, valid only if the bones were disarticulated and broken into small pieces. Or at least, you might think so. Or did they get into the cave over a long period of time as the a comment from one of the excavators appears to think so, falling into the cave from above – a sink hole, perhaps? Obviously, an animal trapped in a cave with no obvious route out again would die. There might be some indication of this as the complete skeleton of a wolf is among the remains – although wolves could have occupied the cave after the mass kill event. As it is led by archaeologists we can assume C14 dating will be employed at some stage – if not already. Getting a wide range of dates may be the best way to find out what happened. See https://phys.org/news/2022-02-discovery-ice-age-fossils-devon.html … and no doubt more information will arise a bit later.

At https://phys.org/news/2022-02-unravelling-ancient-stories-hidden-dna.html … this Japanese research is quite interesting as it gives the impression that dna confirms certain species of life forms have remained basically the same over millions of years, to almost a billion years ago. That might be the wrong take on what is a press release but it does make one look at the evolutionary principle in a new light. It seems the genomes of marine invertebrates have been surprisingly stable across deep time. Sponges, jellyfish, scallops, and so on, hjave chromosomes that are remarkably similar to those found in fossil examples. They are similar in chromosomes but not always in the order of the chromosomes, which can scramble. Overall, there was remarkable stability, as the chromosomes seem to preserve genes from the beginning of animal life.

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