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Coralline algae in the Mediterranean lost their tropical element between 5 and 7 million years ago
Date:7/7/2009

An international team of researchers has studied the coralline algae fossils that lived on the last coral reefs of the Mediterranean Sea between 7.24 and 5.3 million years ago. Mediterranean algae and coral reefs began to resemble present day reefs following the isolation of the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean and global cooling 15 and 20 million years ago respectively.

The research team from the University of Granada (UGR) and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italia) show coralline algae distribution patterns in the west and centre of the Mediterranean Sea (in Salento, Italy and Almera, Spain) by way of a fossil register of 21 species collected in the two areas.

"Coralline algae are calcareous algae that are very common nowadays, although unknown to the general public, including naturalists, and quite often in fossil form, particularly in relatively modern rocks", Juan C. Braga, the chief author and a researcher at the Stratigraphy and Paleontology Department of the UGR explained to SINC.

The study, which was published recently in Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, describes and interprets the disappearance of the last Messinian coral reefs (between 7.24 and 5.3 million years ago) in the Mediterranean Sea. "In subsequent, more recent eras, this sea has not had the right oceanographic conditions (above all a high enough temperature) to house coral reefs," Braga added.

When Tropical Coral Reefs Became Atlantic

During the period studied by the scientists through the coralline algae fossils found in the Mediterranean, the last few reefs boasted very little coralline diversity. "This is the result of the long history of global cooling over the last 20 million years and the isolation (separation) of the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean, some 15 million years ago," the research says.

According to the results of the research, the relative abundance of coralline algae in r
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Contact: SINC
info@plataformasinc.es
91-425-1820
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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Coralline algae in the Mediterranean lost their tropical element between 5 and 7 million years ago
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