In the place where millions of years ago there was a rainforest, scientists now find a new species every day. The excavations are called a sensation.
Australian paleontologists have discovered what was a rainforest over 15 million years ago. In the barren landscape of the city of Gulgong, in the state of New South Wales, researchers have made some unique discoveries.
Here they have discovered fossil imprints of a number of species, remarkably well preserved in the rock layers.
Normally there are few fossils in the rock in the area – which is called goethitt – but in this case it has proved to be a paleontologist’s dream place. For the past three years, they have been scratching out everything from flowers and insects to the flared feathers of a bird.
Researchers have also found giant cicadas, dragonflies and parasitic wasps.
Incredibly well preserved
The findings were published in the scientific journal on Friday Science Advances.
– The fossils are so well preserved that paleontologists can study, not only species, but the relationship between species – something that is unusual in normal excavation sites, says Matthew McCurry, curator at The Australian Museum and lead author of the study, according to New York Times.
McCurry says they probably found “dozens if not hundreds” of unknown species in the excavations. Everything is in the rock layers between 50 and 80 cm below the ground and on average an unknown species has been found every day it has been dug.
Found wing in fish stomach
Among other things, the researchers have found imprints of spiders’ respiratory organs and fish with visible stomach contents.
According to McCurry, the fish stomachs are so well preserved that you can see what this fish ate just before it died – 15 million years ago.
– We see the food clearly in the stomach, such as a dragonfly wing, but it is mostly insect larvae, he says according to The Guardian.
Pollen on bee head
Not only that, they also found parasites on the tail of a fish, and a roundworm that had infiltrated a longhorn beetle.
Using an electron microscope, the researchers also found a lump of pollen on the head of a bee-like insect. These extremely detailed finds of 15 million year old fossils are very rare.
– We can see what flower a saw fly had landed on before it fell into the water and died a sudden death. This would not have been possible without the high quality of conservation, says Michael Frese, a virologist and paleontologist at the University of Canberra who is participating in the study.
Researchers have also found 12 types of spiders. According to them, fossil spiders are rare because they have “soft, liquid-filled bodies”.
At this time there was a rainforest in Australia.
But, what happened to these species they found?
As these insects flew around the rainforest, Australia was drifting away from Antarctica. This drift to the north caused the climate to become drastically much drier and lots of species became extinct when the rainforests disappeared.