An ant the size of a hummingbird baffles scientists
Fossilized giant ant was found in Canada. The same species had been excavated in Germany before. But how did this insect manage to travel between different continents?
We have known for some time that giant animals roamed the earth in times past. Also the extinct ant titanomerma can be added to that list. This giant ant was really huge. It was the size of a hummingbird! Researchers have now described a new fossil specimen found in Canada. The fact that the ant was found in this place is quite strange. It raises interesting questions about how animals, and this insect in particular, moved around the northern hemisphere some 50 million years ago.
The new fossil was discovered by passer-by Beverly Burlingame, a resident of the Canadian city of Princeton, located in southern British Columbia. Then it was made available to scholars through the city museum.
The discovery of the giant ant in Canada is special, as can be read in the trade journal Canadian entomologist. In fact, it is the first titanomerma Found in Canadian soil.
By the way, this is not the first titanomermaThe fossil was found on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. For example, scientists discovered a specimen in the United States about ten years ago. The ant lived in Wyoming about fifty million years ago.
This ant and a new fossil found in Canada are of a similar age to the others titanomerma“Fossils were found from a long time ago in Germany and England,” said researcher Bruce Archibald. “This raises the question of how these insects travel between continents – they appear on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean at about the same time.”
It is known that huge ants lived in a tropical climate. And so it also happened in Europe, where the temperature was much higher between 53 and 34 million years ago. Moreover, the continents were close together and the sea level was low. This partly explains how anthills can occur in both Europe and America: Europe and North America were connected by land via the Arctic.
To cross the continents, animals had to brave the North Pole. However, it was not so easy for the giant ant. Although the North Pole wasn’t as cold as it is now, it was probably still too cold for that. titanomerma, which are adapted to tropical temperatures. And so scientists are at a loss. Because how can titanomerma What was found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, while the Arctic wasn’t warm enough to satisfy the giant ant?
Shorter and warmer periods
As early as 2011, researchers suggested a possible explanation. For example, the Arctic is known to have warmed suddenly for short periods, as a result of the release of carbon dioxide from sediments. The researchers suggested that the ants may have used those warm periods to walk long distances. It just means that titanomerma It did not occur in the ancient temperate Canadian Highlands, because it may have been very cold there as well. But the current discovery now proves otherwise.
Story of the titanomerma So it became even more mysterious with the discovery of the new fossil. What also doesn’t make it any easier is that the Canadian fossil was deformed by geological stress during fossilization. This made it impossible to determine the real life size. Although it is known that titanomerma It must have been enormous, and the exact size of the Canadian specimen cannot be determined with certainty. “It may have been a smaller species and adapted to colder climates because of its smaller size,” Archibald suggests. “But it is also possible that it was a giant. In this case, our theory of their climatic tolerance – and therefore of how they crossed the Arctic – may be wrong.”
puzzle titanomerma So it is far from a solution. The researchers hope to learn more by comparing different fossils. “We’re going to have to find more fossils,” says Archibald. The question is whether our ideas about the environment titanomermaTherefore, its distribution must be reconsidered. For now, this remains a mystery.”
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