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

eefs and slope deposits is 1-5% and 18% lower respectively in the Sorbas basin (Almera) than in Salento (Italy). Furthermore, the main components of the coralline algae assemblages found in shallow water are extant species that are very common in the Mediterranean.

Other species, such as Spongites fruticulosus and Phymatolithon calcareum, have lived in the western Mediterranean for more than 25 million years. However, the typical components of present-day coral reefs, such as Hydrolithon species with thick thalli, which were no longer present in the western region of the Mediterranean 7 million years ago.

"Just like reef corallines, algae flora reflects the cooling of the Mediterranean and its isolation from the Indian Ocean, and only a few tropical biotas existed in the Messinian era. Moreover, most of them already had Atlantic affinities and resembled the algae that still inhabits our coasts today", Braga states.

The Mediterranean-Atlantic characteristics of Messinian reef corallines therefore reflect the decrease in tropical biotas that occurred during the Miocene (around 20 million years ago). According to the research team, the widespread decline of this type of algae was due to global cooling and the isolation of the Mediterranean during the middle Miocene.


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