Sea-Ice Ecosystem Possibly Triggered Evolution of Baleen Whales and Penguins

Posted: April 19, 2013  |  By: Science Daily

Apr. 18, 2013 — The circum-Antarctic Southern Ocean is an important region for global marine food webs and carbon cycling because of sea-ice formation and its unique plankton ecosystem. The origin of its ecosystems can be traced back to the emergence of the Antarctic ice sheets approximately 33.6 million years ago. This discovery was made by an international team including scientists from the Goethe University and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt, Germany. Their study, published today in Science, shows that the development of the sea-ice ecosystem possibly triggered further adaptation and evolution of larger organisms such as baleen whales and penguins.

The scientists analysed sediment samples from drill cores on the seafloor, which were obtained in 2010 off the coast of Antarctica, as part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). The cores reach nearly 1000 meters beneath the seafloor and provide new insights into a long gone past.

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