Corals discovered off Greenland


This 29 June 2020 video says about itself:

Captioned video showing and describing a new soft coral garden habitat discovered deep off the coast of Greenland.

From University College London in England:

Soft coral garden discovered in Greenland’s deep sea

June 29, 2020

A deep-sea soft coral garden habitat has been discovered in Greenlandic waters by scientists from UCL, ZSL and Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, using an innovative and low-cost deep-sea video camera built and deployed by the team.

The soft coral garden, presented in a new Frontiers in Marine Science paper, is the first habitat of this kind to have been identified and assessed in west Greenland waters.

The study has direct implications for the management of economically important deep-sea trawl fisheries, which are immediately adjacent to the habitat. The researchers hope that a 486 km2 area will be recognised as a ‘Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem’ under UN guidelines, to ensure that it is protected.

PhD researcher Stephen Long (UCL Geography and ZSL (Zoological Society London)), first author on the study, said: “The deep sea is often over-looked in terms of exploration. In fact, we have better maps of the surface of Mars, than we do of the deep sea.

“The development of a low-cost tool that can withstand deep-sea environments opens up new possibilities for our understanding and management of marine ecosystems. We’ll be working with the Greenland government and fishing industry to ensure this fragile, complex and beautiful habitat is protected.”

The soft coral garden discovered by the team exists in near-total darkness, 500m below the surface at a pressure 50 times greater than at sea-level. This delicate and diverse habitat features abundant cauliflower corals as well as feather stars, sponges, anemones, brittle stars, hydrozoans, bryozoans and other organisms.

Dr Chris Yesson (ZSL), last author on the study, said “Coral gardens are characterised by collections of one or more species (typically of non-reef forming coral), that sit on a wide range of hard and soft bottom habitats, from rock to sand, and support a diversity of fauna. There is considerable diversity among coral garden communities, which have previously been observed in areas such as northwest and southeast Iceland.”

The discovery is particularly significant given that the deep sea is the most poorly known habitat on earth, despite being the biggest and covering 65% of the planet. Until very recently, very little was known about Greenland’s deep-sea habitats, their nature, distribution and how they are impacted by human activities.

Surveying the deep sea has typically proved difficult and expensive. One major factor is that ocean pressure increases by one atmosphere (which is the average atmospheric pressure at sea level) every 10 metres of descent. Deep-sea surveys, therefore, have often only been possible using expensive remote operating vehicles and manned submersibles, like those seen in Blue Planet, which can withstand deep-sea pressure.

The UK-Greenland research team overcame this challenge by developing a low-cost towed video sled, which uses a GoPro video camera, lights and lasers in special pressure housings, mounted on a steel frame.

The lasers, which were used to add a sense of scale to the imagery, were made by combining high-powered laser pointers with DIY housings made at UCL’s Institute of Making, with help from UCL Mechanical Engineering.

The team placed the video sledge — which is about the size of a Mini Cooper — on the seafloor for roughly 15 minutes at a time and across 18 different stations. Stills were taken from the video footage, with 1,239 images extracted for further analysis.

A total of 44,035 annotations of the selected fauna were made. The most abundant were anemones (15,531) and cauliflower corals (11,633), with cauliflower corals observed at a maximum density of 9.36 corals per square metre.

Long said: “A towed video sled is not unique. However, our research is certainly the first example of a low-cost DIY video sled led being used to explore deep-sea habitats in Greenland’s 2.2million km² of sea. So far, the team has managed to reach an impressive depth of 1,500m. It has worked remarkably well and led to interest from researchers in other parts of the world.”

Dr Yesson added: “Given that the ocean is the biggest habitat on earth and the one about which we know the least, we think it is critically important to develop cheap, accessible research tools. These tools can then be used to explore, describe and crucially inform management of these deep-sea resources.”

Dr Martin Blicher (Greenland Institute of Natural Resources) said: “Greenland’s seafloor is virtually unexplored, although we know is it inhabited by more than 2000 different species together contributing to complex and diverse habitats, and to the functioning of the marine ecosystem. Despite knowing so little about these seafloor habitats, the Greenlandic economy depends on a small number of fisheries which trawl the seabed. We hope that studies like this will increase our understanding of ecological relationships, and contribute to sustainable fisheries management.”

Global warming benefits Greenland wolf spiders


This 2019 video says about itself:

Arctic Wolf Spiders‘ Changing Diet May Help Keep Arctic Cool & Lessen Some Impacts of Global Warming

Ecologist Amanda Koltz has a special interest in climate change and spiders. Koltz said she chose to study Arctic wolf spiders because they’re fierce hunters and abundant, making them one of the most important predators in the tundra. Leaving her biology lab at Washington University in St. Louis, Koltz conducts her field research in Northern Alaska. Koltz and her team discovered that Arctic wolf spiders may buffer some of the effects of global warming by helping to ‘keep it cool’. Wolf spiders may play a role decreasing decomposition rates in a warming climate. As the Arctic warms, research shows wolf spiders may dine differently initiating a cascade of food web interactions that could potentially alleviate some impacts of global warming.

From Aarhus University in Denmark:

Spider baby boom in a warmer Arctic

June 25, 2020

Climate change leads to longer growing seasons in the Arctic. A new study, which has just been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that predators like wolf spiders respond to the changing conditions and have been able to produce two clutches of offspring during the short Arctic summer.

Arctic spiders are at the top of the food chain among invertebrates and are numerous on the Arctic tundra. They typically take several years to become adults, and only produce offspring [once].

But something is happening in the high north in these years. A lot, actually.

Climate change is more dramatic here than in no other place on Earth. The average temperature is increasing significantly and this affects the ecosystems.

Researchers have previously reported how plants bloom earlier and earlier in the season. There are also signs that species move farther north and up into the mountains.

A team of researchers led by senior researcher Toke T. Høye from the Arctic Research Centre and Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University has now shown that changes are also occurring in the reproduction of invertebrates.

For almost 20 years, researchers at the Zackenberg Research Station in north-eastern Greenland have caught wolf spiders as part of the monitoring programme Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring. The spiders were caught in small pitfall traps set up in different vegetation types.

Wolf spiders carry their eggs in a so-called egg sac. The researchers counted the number of eggs in the individual spiders’ egg sacs and compared this information with the time of the season that the animal was caught. By looking at the distribution of the number of eggs in the egg sacs throughout the season, it became clear that in some summers the spiders produced two egg sacs — a phenomenon that is known from warmer latitudes, but which has not previously been observed in the Arctic.

Arctic ecosystems are changing

“We now have the longest time series of spiders collected the Arctic. The large amount of data allows us to show how small animals in the Arctic change their life history in response to climate change,” says Toke T. Høye.

The long time series tells the researchers that the earlier the snow disappears from the ground, the greater the proportion of spiders that can produce a second clutch of offspring.

“These changes in the life history have not been seen earlier and evidence suggests that the phenomenon plays an important role for Arctic insects and spiders,” Toke T. Høye says.

The researchers see the spiders’ response to climate change as an ability to adapt to the new conditions.

Wolf spiders feed on small organisms such as springtails in the soil. If there are more spiders — or insects — in the future Arctic, it can have an influence on the food chains on land.

“We can only speculate about how the ecosystems change, but we can now ascertain that changes in the reproduction of species are an important factor to include when we try to understand how Arctic ecosystems react to the rising temperatures on the planet,” Toke T. Høye says.

Narwhal sounds, new research


In this 2019 video, you can hear narwhal sounds.

This 15 May 2020 video says about itself:

Listen to narwhals click, buzz and whistle

This animation illustrates how narwhal vocalizations match their behavior. The researchers captured several types of sounds made by narwhals, including social calls, or whistles, and clicks used for echolocation, the biological sonar used by dolphins, bats, some whales and other animals to navigate and find food.

The closer narwhals get to their food, the faster they click, until the noise becomes a buzz not unlike that of a chainsaw. This terminal buzz helps the narwhals pinpoint the location of their prey.

From the American Geophysical Union in the USA:

Rarely heard narwhal vocalizations

May 26, 2020

With the help of Inuit hunters, geophysicists recently recorded the various calls, buzzes, clicks and whistles of narwhals as they summered in a Greenland fjord. The recordings help scientists better understand the soundscape of Arctic glacial fjords and provide valuable insight into the behavior of these shy and mysterious creatures, according to the researchers.

Narwhals are difficult to study because they are notoriously shy and skittish and spend most of their time deep in the freezing Arctic Ocean. They tend to summer in glacial fjords around Greenland and Canada, but scientists often have trouble getting close enough to study them. Glacier fronts can be dangerous and hard to access, and the animals tend to swim off when approached by motorized boats.

But Inuit hunters familiar with the mysterious cetaceans can get closer to the animals without disturbing them. In July 2019, researchers accompanied several Inuit whale hunting expeditions in Northwest Greenland to study the narwhals that summer there in more detail.

Using underwater microphones attached to small boats, the researchers captured narwhal social calls and foraging sounds, getting as close as 25 meters (82 feet) to the elusive cetaceans.

The recordings help the researchers provide a baseline of the kinds of sounds that permeate the narwhals‘ pristine habitat. In combination with sightings, they also show narwhals get closer to glacier ice than previously thought for this area and the animals do forage for food in summer, contrary to some previous findings.

“Their world is the soundscape of this glacial fjord,” said Evgeny Podolskiy, a geophysicist at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan and lead author of a new study detailing the findings in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. “There are many questions we can answer by listening to glacier fjords in general.”

Getting close

Podolskiy and his colleagues had been working in Greenland fjords for several years, studying the sounds made by melting glaciers. Coincidentally, a population of narwhals summers in the fjords they were studying, and Podolskiy saw an opportunity to study the wily creatures.

“I realized working in the area and not paying attention to the elephant in the room — the key endemic legendary Arctic unicorn just flowing around our glacier — was a big mistake,” he said.

The researchers tagged along on several Inuit hunting expeditions departing from the village of Qaanaaq, placing microphones underwater and recording the baseline sounds of the fjord.

They captured several types of sounds made by narwhals, including social calls, or whistles, and clicks used for echolocation, the biological sonar used by dolphins, bats, some whales and other animals to navigate and find food.

The closer narwhals get to their food, the faster they click, until the noise becomes a buzz not unlike that of a chainsaw. This terminal buzz helps the narwhals pinpoint the location of their prey.

“If you approach and target these fast fish, you better know precisely where they are; you need to gather this information more frequently,” Podolskiy said.

Few studies have documented narwhals feeding in the summertime. Because the microphones picked up terminal buzz, a sound associated with finding food, the new study provides further evidence that narwhals do forage in summer.

Surprisingly, the researchers found narwhals come roughly within 1 kilometer (half a mile) of a glacier calving front, despite the fact that these areas are some of the noisiest places in the ocean and calving icebergs can be dangerous.

“There is so much cracking due to ice fracturing and bubbles melting out… it’s like a fizzy drink underwater,” Podolskiy said. “It seems we are dealing with animals living in one of the most noisy environments without having much trouble with that.”

‘Over-hunting walruses killed Viking Greenlanders’


This 2013 video says about itself:

Getting the perfect shot of a walrus can be a cold, exhausting task. On assignment in a Greenland fjord, photographer Paul Nicklen explains why—then dives in for a close encounter.

From the University of Cambridge in England:

Over-hunting walruses contributed to the collapse of Norse Greenland, study suggests

January 6, 2020

Summary: Norse Greenlanders may have chased dwindling walrus herds ever farther north in an effort to maintain their economy, when the value of walrus ivory tanked after the introduction of elephant tusks into European markets in the 1200s.

The mysterious disappearance of Greenland’s Norse colonies sometime in the 15th century may have been down to the overexploitation of walrus populations for their tusks, according to a study of medieval artefacts from across Europe.

Founded by Erik the Red around 985AD after his exile from Iceland (or so the Sagas tell us), Norse communities in Greenland thrived for centuries — even gaining a bishop — before vanishing in the 1400s, leaving only ruins.

Latest research from the universities of Cambridge, Oslo and Trondheim has found that, for hundreds of years, almost all ivory traded across Europe came from walruses hunted in seas only accessible via Norse settlements in south-western Greenland.

Walrus ivory was a valuable medieval commodity, used to carve luxury items such as ornate crucifixes or pieces for games like chess and Viking favourite hnefatafl. The famous Lewis chessmen are made of walrus tusk.

However, the study also indicates that, as time wore on, the ivory came from smaller animals, often female; with genetic and archaeological evidence suggesting they were sourced from ever farther north — meaning longer and more treacherous hunting voyages for less reward.

Increasingly globalised trade saw elephant ivory flood European markets in the 13th century, and fashions changed. There is little evidence of walrus ivory imports to mainland Europe after 1400.

Dr James H. Barrett, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology, argues that the Norse abandonment of Greenland may have been precipitated by a “perfect storm” of depleted resources and volatile prices, exacerbated by climate change.

“Norse Greenlanders needed to trade with Europe for iron and timber, and had mainly walrus products to export in exchange,” said Barrett, lead author of the study published in Quaternary Science Reviews.

“We suspect that decreasing values of walrus ivory in Europe meant more and more tusks were harvested to keep the Greenland colonies economically viable.”

“Mass hunting can end the use of traditional haul-out sites by walruses. Our findings suggest that Norse hunters were forced to venture deeper into the Arctic Circle for increasingly meagre ivory harvests. This would have exacerbated the decline of walrus populations, and consequently those sustained by the walrus trade.”

Other theories for collapse of the colonies have included climate change — the “Little Ice Age”, a sustained period of lower temperatures, began in the 14th century — as well as unsustainable farming methods and even the Black Death.

“An overreliance on walrus ivory was not the only factor in Norse Greenland’s demise. However, if both the population and price of walrus started to tumble, it must have badly undermined the resilience of the settlements,” says co-author Bastiaan Star of the University of Oslo. “Our study suggests the writing was on the wall.”

Analysis using carved artefacts would risk damage, so researchers examined pieces of “rostrum”: the walrus skull and snout to which tusks remained attached during shipment, creating a protective “package” that got broken up in the ivory workshops of medieval trading centres such as Dublin, Trondheim and Bergen.

In total, the team studied 67 rostra taken from sites across Europe, dating between the 11th and 15th century. Ancient DNA (25 samples) and stable isotopes (31 samples) extracted from samples of bone, as well as tusk socket size, provided clues to the animals’ sex and origins.

The stable isotope analysis was conducted by Cambridge’s Dorothy Garrod Laboratory for Isotopic Analysis, and the DNA analysis by Oslo’s Department of Biosciences.

The researchers also studied traces of “manufacturing techniques” — changing styles of butchery and skull preparation — to help place the walrus remains in history.

While impossible to determine exact provenance, the researchers detected a shift in European walrus finds around the 13th century to walruses from an evolutionary branch most prevalent in the waters around Baffin Bay.

These animals must have been hunted by sailing northwest up the Greenland coast, and more recent specimens were smaller and often female. “If the original hunting grounds of the Greenland Norse, around Disko Bay, were overexploited, they may have journeyed as far north as Smith Sound to find sufficient herds of walrus,” said Barrett.

Norse artefacts have previously been found among the remains of 13th and 14th-century Inuit settlements in this most northern of regions. One former Inuit camp on an islet off Ellesmere Island contained the rivets of a Norse boat — quite possibly a hunting trip that never returned.

“Ancestors of the Inuit occupied northern Greenland during the time of the Norse colonies. They probably encountered and traded with the Norse,” said Barrett. “That pieces of a Norse boat were found so far north hints of the risks these hunters might have ended up taking in their quest for ivory.”

Barrett points out that the Inuit of the region favoured female walruses when hunting, so the prevalence of females in Greenland’s later exports could imply a growing Norse reliance on Inuit supply.

He says that hunting season for the Norse would have been short, as seas were choked with ice for much of the year. “The brief window of summer would have barely been sufficient for rowing the many hundreds of miles north and back.”

The legend of Erik the Red itself may mask what Barrett calls “ecological globalisation”: the chasing of natural resources as supply dwindles. Recent research revealed that Greenland might have been settled only after Icelandic walruses were hunted to exhaustion.

Ultimately, having been highly prized for centuries, the marbled appearance of walrus ivory fell out of favour as West African trade routes opened up, and the homogenous finish of elephant ivory became de rigueur in the 13th century.

One account suggests that in the 1120s, Norse Greenlanders used walrus ivory to secure their own bishopric from the King of Norway. By 1282, however, the Pope requests his Greenland tithes be converted from walrus tusk into silver or gold.

“Despite a significant drop in value, the rostra evidence implies that exploitation of walruses may have even increased during the thirteen and fourteenth centuries,” said Barrett.

“As the Greenlanders chased depleted walrus populations ever northwards for less and less return in trade, there must have come a point where it was unsustainable. We believe this ‘resource curse’ undermined the resilience of the Greenland colonies.”

Trump can’t buy Greenland, parody song


This 21 August 2019 parody music video from Britain is called It’s Not Easy Buying Greenland (by President Muppet).

It is a parody of the song It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green, by Kermit the Frog in the Muppet Show.

It says about itself:

Donald Trump is President Muppet as he laments the difficulty in buying Greenland.

LYRICS:

It’s not easy buying Greenland
Writing tremendously yuge cheques with my very bigly hands
But they keep playing hardball, saying “it’s not for sale, you dummy”
They must have read The Art of the Deal

It’s not easy buying Greenland
Gonna bail on that visit to Denmark the Danish Queen planned
Maybe then they’ll know I’m serious
About turning Greenland into a golf-themed Disneyland
With a Trump Tower in the sky

But Greenland is the colour of ice
I mean frozen water, not those border protection guys
And it turns out Iceland is much greener than Greenland
So maybe I’ll buy Iceland instead

Then I’ll buy Poland and watch ‘em pole dance
Then I’ll buy Lapland and get a lap dance
There’s nothing greener than what’s in my wallet
Oh, and Jews who vote for Democrats are assholes

US President Donald Trump has said Jewish Americans who vote for the Democratic Party show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”. The remark drew sharp criticism that Mr Trump had used an anti-Semitic trope that accuses Jews of ‘dual loyalty’. The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the president was trying to “weaponise and politicise anti-Semitism” for political gain: here.

SANDERS TACKLES TRUMP ON JEWISH ‘DISLOYALTY’ REMARK Sen. Bernie Sanders took a jab at Trump over his attack on Jewish Americans. While speaking about Israel barring Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering the country, Trump said Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” [HuffPost]

US President Donald Trump has called the Danish leader “nasty” after she rebuffed his idea of buying Greenland: here.

Trump’s bid for Greenland and the imperialist redivision of the world: here.

Trump can’t buy Greenland, cancels Denmark visit


This February 2018 video says about itself:

50 Years Ago, a US Military Jet Crashed in Greenland—With 4 Nukes on Board

Fifty years ago, on Jan. 21, 1968, the Cold War grew significantly colder. It was on this day that an American B-52G Stratofortress bomber, carrying four nuclear bombs, crashed onto the sea ice of Wolstenholme Fjord in the northwest corner of Greenland, one of the coldest places on Earth. Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and the Danes were not pleased.

The bomber – call sign HOBO 28 – had crashed due to human error. One of the crew members had stuffed some seat cushions in front of a heating vent, and they subsequently caught fire. The smoke quickly became so thick that the crew needed to eject. Six of the 7 crew members parachuted out safely before the plane crashed onto the frozen fjord 7 miles west of Thule Air Base – America’s most northern military base, 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Trump cancels state visit to Denmark after refusal to sell Greenland

President Trump has cancelled his state visit to Denmark at the beginning of next month. He announced on Twitter that he had come to his decision because Danish Prime Minister Frederiksen said she was not interested in selling Greenland to the USA.

Trump talks about ‘postponing’ his visit; if and when he will still travel to Denmark is not clear.

Last weekend it turned out that Trump had talked to his advisors about the plan to buy Greenland. The largest island in the world has an autonomous status within the Danish kingdom. Trump would like to buy the island because of its strategic location and the rare earth metals that may be found beneath the miles of ice.

“But it is also an important military strategic area”, explains Scandinavian correspondent Rolien Créton. “Because it lies between the US and Russia. America already built a military base there during the Cold War, including an airfield.”

The Danish Prime Minister Frederiksen called the idea “absurd” the day before yesterday, emphasizing that the island was not for sale. She also said she hoped that this was “not something serious”. …

In Denmark, “disbelief and bewilderment” is a response to the delay, says Créton. “They say here that reality surpasses fantasy.”

There is fear in Greenland that the country will become a plaything, the correspondent says. …

The state visit would start on 2 September.

Greenland against being bought by Donald Trump


This 16 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Wants to Buy Greenland: Reports

President Trump has allegedly directed the White House counsel to “look into the idea” of purchasing Greenland, The Wall Street Journal reported. The president also reportedly brought up the idea at a dinner with his associates last spring, asking his guests, “What do you guys think about that? Do you think it would work?”

TRUMP MIGHT WANT TO BUY GREENLAND President Trump is reportedly interested in buying Greenland, an ice-covered island melting before the world’s eyes. According to The Wall Street Journal, sources say the president has repeatedly expressed interest in acquiring the autonomous Danish territory situated between the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. [HuffPost]

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Greenland: we are not for sale

The Greenland Foreign Minister says that her country is not for sale. She responds to a report in the newspaper The Wall Street Journal. It wrote last night based on sources around US President Trump that he has his eyes on the huge island and wants to buy the land from Denmark.

Trump is said to have come up with the idea when he heard that Denmark transfers abmorning.a billion euros to the country every year. …

Danish politicians attacked the idea this morning. “It must be a April Fools‘ joke”, said former Prime Minister Rasmussen. “You can’t sell Greenland like you used to do with a colony”, said a Social Liberal MP. …

Rich in minerals

Greenland has the interest of superpowers such as the US, China and Russia because of its strategic location and the raw materials it has. ..

Greenland has an air force base of the United States, the Thule Air Base.

A base with a Pentagon nuclear weapons scandal history.

It is not the first time that the US Americans want to buy Greenland. The US proposed in 1946 to buy the country for $ 100 million, but that was refused.

In 1917, the USA did buy the then Danish West Indies for $ 25 million. Today, that island group in the Caribbean is known as the US Virgin Islands. The state of Alaska was also bought: in 1867 from Russia for 7.2 million dollars.

Donald Trump has said before that the wanted to make Puerto Rico his private property, renaming it ‘Puerto Trump’.

DANISH PM: GREENLAND ISN’T FOR SALE President Donald Trump confirmed that he is considering the “large real estate deal” of purchasing the autonomous Danish territory of Greenland, saying that it would be “strategically interesting.” The Danish prime minister has slammed the notion, saying “Greenland isn’t for sale.” [HuffPost]

Mapping icebergs in Greenland


This video from the USA says about itself:

18 April 2018

How is mapping an iceberg similar to mapping an asteroid? They are actually much the same kind of a mission: they both involve using an autonomous vehicle in an extreme environment to map and explore a remote moving object.

Taking on the task of mapping icebergs, engineers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute developed the iceberg autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). During an expedition to Greenland in 2017, the research team successfully tested new control technologies that would allow the vehicle to safely travel parallel to complex vertical terrain (i.e., an iceberg). To do this the engineers outfitted the AUV with obstacle-avoidance sonars, aligned in the horizontal plane, to make sure the vehicle didn’t collide with anything. The vehicle also had a second sonar on it, aligned in the vertical plane, looking out the left side of the vehicle. This vertical sonar collected mapping data revealing what the target surface looked like.

The team ran several successful repeat missions on three different icebergs.

Video producer: Nancy Barr
Interview videographer: Todd Walsh
Video editor: Kyra Schlining
Music: http://taketones.com/track/digital-love (License N: TT000270144)
Illustration: Kelly Lance

For more information, see the MBARI 2017 Annual Report.

GREENLAND’S MELTING ICE IS A WARNING TO THE WORLD It is so warm in Greenland, just inside the Arctic Circle, that on an August day, coats are left on the ground and scientists work on the watery melting ice without gloves. In one of the closest towns, Kulusuk, the morning temperature reached a shirtsleeve 52 degrees. [AP]

Sea creatures, whether large or small, need nutrients. The supply mechanism delivering these nutrients is very different in different parts of the ocean, there are nutrient-rich coastal areas, but also very nutrient-poor regions in the open ocean. In some areas, the lack of iron in seawater limits plankton growth. These include much of the polar oceans. Here, icebergs appear to be an important source of iron input, which could increase due to increased iceberg production as a result of climate change. So far, however, only a limited amount of data has been available to estimate this process. An international team of researchers led by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel has now examined ice samples worldwide for their iron content. The results show that an increase in icebergs, for example due to global warming, does not necessarily lead to an increase in iron input into the oceans. The results of their study were published today in the international journal Nature Communications: here.

Cambrian fossils discovery in Greenland


This video says about itself:

26 March 2014

More than 500 million years ago in the Cambrian period there was an explosion of animal life. The top predators were from a group called the Anomalocarids, the largest animals of their day. But now, a new fossil suggests that not all the Anomalocarids were the fearsome killing machines scientists once thought. At least one, it seems, evolved into a gentle giant.

From Uppsala University in Sweden:

Treasure trove of highly detailed fossils uncovered

December 19, 2017

A team of researchers from Uppsala University have uncovered a hidden diversity of microscopic animal fossils from over half a billion years ago lurking in rocks from the northern tip of Greenland.

The ‘Cambrian explosion‘ of animal diversity beginning ~541 million years ago is a defining episode in the history of life. This was a time when the seas first teemed with animal life, and the first recognisably ‘modern’ ecosystems began to take shape.

Current accounts of this explosion in animal diversity rely heavily on records from fossilised shells and other hard parts, since these structures are the most likely to survive as fossils.

However, since most marine animals are ‘soft-bodied’ this represents only a small fraction of the total diversity.

Rare sites of exceptional fossilisation, like the world-famous Burgess Shale, have revolutionised palaeontologists understanding of ‘soft-bodied’ Cambrian life. Because of the special conditions of fossilisation at these localities, organisms that did not produce hard mineralized shells or skeletons are also preserved. Such sites offer a rare glimpse into the true diversity of these ancient seas, which were filled with a dazzling array of soft and squishy predatory worms and arthropods (the group containing modern crustaceans and insects).

One of the oldest of these truly exceptional fossil bonanzas is the Sirius Passet site in the far north of Greenland. Unfortunately, during their long history, the rocks at Sirius Passet have been heated up and baked to high temperatures as the northern margin of Greenland smashed into various tectonic plates and buried these rocks deep beneath the surface.

All this heating has boiled away the delicate organic remains that once formed the fossils of soft bodied animals at Sirius Passet, leaving only faint impressions of their remains.

Not far to the south of Sirius Passet, the rocks have escaped the worst effects of this heating. A team of palaeontologists from Uppsala (Ben Slater, Sebastian Willman, Graham Budd and John Peel) used a low-manipulation acid extraction procedure to dissolve some of these less intensively cooked mudrocks. To their astonishment, this simple preparation technique revealed a wealth of previously unknown microscopic animal fossils preserved in spectacular detail.

Most of the fossils were less than a millimetre long and had to be studied under the microscope. Fossils at the nearby Sirius Passet site typically preserve much larger animals, so the new finds fill an important gap in our knowledge of the small-scale animals that probably made up the majority of these ecosystems. Among the discoveries were the tiny spines and teeth of priapulid worms — small hook shaped structures that allowed these worms to efficiently burrow through the sediments and capture prey. Other finds included the tough outer cuticles and defensive spines of various arthropods, and perhaps most surprisingly, microscopic fragments of the oldest known pterobranch hemichordates — an obscure group of tube-dwelling filter feeders that are distant relatives of the vertebrates. This group became very diverse after the Cambrian Period and are among some of the most commonly found fossils in rocks from younger deposits, but were entirely unknown from the early Cambrian. This new source of fossils will also help palaeontologists to better understand the famously difficult to interpret fossils at the nearby Sirius Passet site, where the flattened animal fossils are usually complete, but missing crucial microscopic details.

‘The sheer abundance of these miniature animal fossils means that we have only begun to scratch the surface of this overlooked resource, but it is already clear that this discovery will help to reshape our view of the non-shelly animals that crawled and swam among the early Cambrian seas more than half a billion years ago,’ says Sebastian Willman, researcher at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University.

Fossil prehistoric amphibians died young


This 2011 video is called 360 Million Year Old Tetrapod Acanthostega.

From Science News:

Preteen tetrapods identified by bone scans

Improved technique suggests large four-limbed Acanthostega were still juveniles

By Susan Milius

1:00pm, September 7, 2016

Better bone scanning of fossils offers a glimpse of preteen life some 360 million years ago.

Improved radiation scanning techniques reveal accumulating growth zones in chunks of four fossil upper forelimb bones from salamander-shaped beasts called Acanthostega, scientists report online September 7 in Nature. Vertebrate bones typically show annual growth zones diminishing in size around the time of sexual maturity. But there’s no sign of that slowdown in these four individuals from East Greenland’s mass burial of Acanthostega, says study coauthor Sophie Sanchez of Uppsala University in Sweden. They were still juveniles.

The bones came from tropical Greenland of the Devonian Period. Aquatic vertebrates were developing four limbs, which would serve tetrapods well when vertebrates eventually conquered land. This mass die-off doomed at least 20 individuals, presumably when a dry spell after a flood trapped them all in a big, vanishing puddle.

This find makes the strongest case yet for identifying genuine youngsters among ancient tetrapods, Sanchez says. She suspects other individuals trapped could have been juveniles too.

Not many other species were found in the mass burial. So young tetrapods may have stuck together much as today’s young fish schools, Sanchez speculates. The limb shape clearly indicates that the youngsters took a long time to start adding hard bone to the initial soft cartilage, she says. So these early tetrapods were at least 6-year-olds and probably 10 years old or more.

For identifying stages of life, the improved technique “allows greater resolution and rigor, so in that regard it is a plus,” says Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago, who studies a fossil fish with some tetrapod-like features called Tiktaalik. There are Tiktaalik preteens, too, he notes.

What interests Nadia Fröbisch of Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin is that some of Acanthostega individuals were different sizes but had reached the same stage of bone development. She muses that they might even have been developing along different trajectories of growth, a flexibility that would be useful in a changeable environment.

Animals emerged from the water and clamored onto land more than 300 million years ago, but paleontologists are looking for even more details about the transition. A healed broken bone that later fossilized is offering some new and unexpected clues. A new fossil from Australia pushes back the origin of tetrapods, or four-limbed animals, more than two million years. The creature, Ossinodus, lived during the Devonian Period 333 million years ago in what would have been temperate forests: here.