Earth Sciences

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Humans thrived in South Africa through volcanic eruption 74,000 years ago

University of Texas at Arlington researcher, Naomi Cleghorn
Humans thrived in South Africa through a decades-long volcanic winter caused by an eruption in Sumatra, Indonesia, 74,000 years ago. University of Texas at Arlington researcher, Naomi Cleghorn participated in a Nature paper that describes how the Toba volcanic eruption affected humans living in South Africa at that time.

New facts about a mass extinction 260 million years ago

A fossil tooth contains isotopes that offer clues of aridification. Supplied
By Kevin Rey, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand. Around 260 million years ago, the earth was dominated by mammal like reptiles called therapsids. The largest of these therapsids were the dinocephalians, a genus composed of several herbivorous and carnivorous species. Then something enormous happened: a mass extinction event killed off between 75% and 80% of all the creatures that lived on land around the world. Many ocean creatures were also rendered extinct. The dinocephalians were wiped out. Several hypotheses have been offered about what could have provoked...

Tetrapod expert shares insights into Eastern Cape findings

Prof. Per Ahlberg
World renowned expert on Devonian tetrapods, Prof Per Ahlberg from Uppsala University in Sweden recently gave a public lecture on these fascinating creatures at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. He gave an informative lecture on the origins of Devonian tetrapods about 400 million years ago. The lecture entitled Devonian tetrapods, when, where and how was well received as it was crafted to be accessible to those who know little about palaeontology, yet interesting to the advanced enthusiast as well.

Lost mountains of the Karoo reveal secrets of massive extinction event

Gonwanides Mountain range in the Karoo
Millions of years ago, a mountain range that would have dwarfed the Andes mountains in South America, stretched over what is currently the southern-most tip of Africa. Remnants of these mountains - called the Gondwanides, after the massive supercontinent, Gondwana over which it stretched - once spanned the southern continents of South America, Antarctica, South Africa and Australia, and parts of it now form the mountains near Cape Town in South Africa. It is in the shadows of these ancient mountains that Dr Pia Viglietti, a post-doctoral fellow at the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) at...

Lake Malawi

Oceanographers collect 1.5 million year record of climate change in Africa Scientists drill into sediments of one of the world's oldest, deepest lakes to improve understanding of global climate change Four University of Rhode Island oceanographers and colleagues from four other universities recently probed the ancient sediments beneath Lake Malawi in East Africa and recovered sediment samples that provide up to 1.5 million years of information about how climate in Africa has changed – the longest continuous record of such data ever collected from that continent.
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