Wednesday 30 December 2015

Tortoise fossils provide clues on the rise of Andes Mountains

DECEMBER 30, 2015

by Chuck Bednar

The discovery of tortoise fossils on a massive, arid plateau in the Andes mountains in southern Bolivia indicates that the area was once no more than one kilometer above sea level, researchers from Case Western Reserve University revealed Tuesday in a statement.

A team led by Case Western anatomy professor and paleomammalogist Darin Croft discovered what turned out to be the fossil remains of the five-foot-long tortoise, as well as pieces of a tinier aquatic turtle, at the Altiplano plateau near what is bow the town of Quebrada Honda.

It marked the first time that turtle fossils dating back to the Miocene epoch have been found in Bolivia, the researchers said, and their discovery indicates that the plateau was far closer to sea level some 13 million years ago than the currently projected 2.0 to 3.2 kilometers.

Furthermore, the findings, which have been detailed in the latest edition of the Journal of South American Earth Sciences, offer a closer look into historical climate change caused by mountains rising, and could also help experts better understand the changes to modern-day climate.

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