Earth survived when the Arctic was like the tropics
During the Eocene Epoch, some 53 million years ago, Ellesmere Island in the high Arctic resembled cyprus swamplands and was home to prehistoric turtles, alligators and other animals, according to fossil evidence.What this suggest is that global warming would not be as catastrophic as some climate scientists project. In fact it sounds a little like the Caribbean.
Now new research confirms that a 6-foot tall flightless bird that weighed several hundred pounds and had a head the size of a horse's spent its winters there, too.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the University of Colorado-Boulder examined and described the first and only fossil evidence from the Arctic of an enormous bird known as Gastornis, in a study published inScientific Reports.
Scientists reported that a toe bone, which was found in the 1970s, is nearly identical to fossil toe bones from the same bird discovered in Wyoming, and date to the same time period. Gastornis fossils have also been found in Europe and Asia.
"We knew there were a few bird fossils from up there, but we also knew they were extremely rare," study co-author Jaelyn Eberle, an associate professor in geological sciences at CU-Boulder who conducts research on fossil mammals, reptiles and fishes, said in a press release. Eberle also noted that another scientist reported seeing a fossil footprint on Ellesmere, although its specific location remains unknown.