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Thread: further proof biologists should take geology classes

  1. #1
    rattler's Avatar
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    further proof biologists should take geology classes

    Global warming could invite sharks to Antarctica: biologists

    by Jean-Louis SantiniFri Feb 15, 9:27 PM ET

    Global warming could bring ferocious sharks to Antarctic waters, threatening a unique marine life shielded from predators by frigid conditions for millions of years, biologists warn.

    Biologists gathered here for the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science warned that the return of predators to Antarctica could prove devastating to its underwater ecosystem.

    Antarctica's surrounding waters remain too cold for sharks and other fish capable of crushing shellfish similar to the mollusks living in the vast continent's seas, said University of Rhode Island biology professor Cheryl Wilga.

    "As a result, the Antarctic seafloor has been dominated by relatively soft-bodied, slow-moving invertebrates, just as in ancient oceans prior to the evolution of shell-crushing predators," she told a news conference Friday on the sidelines of the conference.

    But global warming has already pushed temperatures up by one to two degrees in the past 50 years, and the waters could become hospitable to sharks within the next 100 years, she said.

    "The water only needs to remain above freezing year round for it to become habitable to some sharks, and at the rate we're going, that could happen this century," Wilga said.

    "Once they get there, it will completely change the ecology of the Antarctic benthic community," she said.

    While sharks may one day roam Antarctic waters, crabs are already crawling closer to the vast continent for the first time in ages, adding one more worry for a marine life left intact since the Paleozoic area of 250 million to 500 million years ago, biologists said.

    "Predatory crabs are poised to return to warming Antarctic waters for the first time in millions of years, which will disrupt the composition of the archaic marine communities," Rick Aronson, of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, told the news conference.

    "Shallow-water, benthic communities in Antarctica are unique," he said. "Nowhere else do giant pycnogonids, nemerteans and isopods occur in shallow marine environments, cohabiting with fish that have anti-freeze glycoproteins in their blood."

    Sven Thatje of National Oceanography Center in Southampton, Britain, urged the international community to take action to curb greenhouse gases that cause global warming and prevent an ecological disaster.

    "The crabs are on the doorsteps, they are sitting in deep water, and only a couple of hundred bathymetric meters now separate them from the slightly cooler shallow water in Antarctic shelf environment," he said.

    The oceanographer made the crab discovery with other British journalists in January 2007.

    He warned that the return of shell-cracking predators to Antarctica "would be a tragic loss for biodiversity in one of the last wild places on Earth."

    i find this story VERY interesting being a student of geology......note what i put in bold and underlined.....it says the ecosystem has been intact since between 250 and 500 million years ago......anyone have any clue what Antarctica looked like even 150 million years ago? it was about twice its present size cause it was attached to Australia.......not to mention the fact their were dinosaurs running around on it......do these idiots really think the earth has looked like it does now since this mountain of molten rock formed? do they really think there has been miles of ice on Antarctica for 200 million years, not to mention global warming zealots are claiming a 6 degree rise in global temps will melt the ice sheets..........it was likely much warmer than 6 degrees above present in the Triassic which is when they are talking about in the article..............can i have some of what they are smoking?
    cervid serial killer
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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I never remember the exact numbers, but 250-500 million years sounds about right for the Paleozoic. I think Pangaea didn't begin breaking up until later, well into the Mesozoic, but that's just a minor detail.

    I think what she means is that, after Pangaea began separating, benthic communities (seabed critters) began going separate down evolutionary paths. Those that don't have a mobile phase would be isolated from those on continents that had moved away. Since Antarctica has a unique climate, a cold current circling it, and is separated from every other continent by a rift, it's benthic community would have gone down a very different path than those around other continents.

    So she makes an interesting point - if climate change allows more efficicient predators to move in, it would have a huge effect. Kind of like what has happened on thousands of islands where rats escaped off ships and destroyed ecosystems that had developed without predators.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    rattler's Avatar
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    the point being Antactica has only been covered/mostly with ice for between 23 and 15 million years, ......i dont understand ppl's facination with trying to keep earth the way it is. they seem to forget nothing on earth is constant, its always changing. Bruce do you honestly think that it has never been warmer than it is now in the last 15 million years?
    cervid serial killer
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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I don't know if it has been warmer or not in 15 million years. It certainly was not very long before that, since one of the Cenozoic epochs (eras?) got very warm. And there was a big extinction event associated with that warming.

    I wouldn't say people are trying to keep the earth the way it is as much as they're worried about causing something bad to happen that we can't undo. Since things that boost greenhouse gas emissions, such as wasteful energy use, forest clearing and industrialized cattle production have plenty of bad side effects, socially and environmentally, I think reducing emissions is a good thing. Global warming or no global warming. But global warming is the big threat because we can't escape the global climate and this warming cycle is being driven by something new.

    We're running an experiment while living in the test tube. Bad idea.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Whats it to ya? Finch's Avatar
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    rattler, you yourself like to point out in countless times how much we have yet to learn. And yet you are indicating that because the earth has changed and is changing that there are not going to be severe consequences. The things that existed during the past warm periods have died or changed into something different. And yet you who like to say how much we dont know are so certain that things like global warming and the bad side effects are all crap. It would be prudent to be cautious at the very least.

    The point is that human distribution and habits are very much stuck to the ways it has been in the past. People want to move back to all of New Orleans. Irrisponsible development and water usage in the very arid southwest. No more illegal immigration. People count on things being as they have always been, but thats not the case. Humans are adaptable, but at the same time we are somewhat stuck in our ways. Not that I worry for humanity itself, but a lot of people have the potential to lose everything.
    that makes no logic

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    On one hand, I agree with rattler: biologists should be *required* to learn about the history of this planet, both geological and paleontological, in part to prevent slip-ups like this, but also because it's necessary to fully understand biology.

    However, one slip-up is not grounds for dismissing the fundamental concept, namely that changes in sea temperature will allow predators to expand their ranges into areas which formerly lacked major predators, upsetting the ecosystem.





    Hang on, do you have a direct link to the article? Because that's not a direct quote. What if the scientist said "Paleocene" and the reporter screwed it up? It happens way too frequently (enough that many scientists I know of are squeamish about even talking to the media about non-politically-charged studies), so it's a real possibility.

    Link?

    Mokele
    \"With malleus aforethought, mammals got an earful of their ancestor's jaw.\"
    --J. Burns, on the evolution of auditory ossicles.

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    This seems to give it more context - http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/0...predators.html - although it doesn't explain why anyone was talking about the Paleozoic. I'm curious whether Antarctica has radically different sea floor creatures than elsewhere or if they're just different species of the same groups or if it's a place where species scarce everywhere else can dominate. To my simplistic way of thinking, that would answer the question of whether someone should toss out the word Paleozoic or even Paleocene in this situation.

    By the way, back in my geology school days, I found a lot of cross-pollination among the sciences. But if you go to the website of the Biology Dept. at URI, where that biologist works, you'll see her specialty is shark physiology. A field like that doesn't tend to cross paths as much with geology as it would, say, with biochemistry. Don't get me wrong; as a geologist, I believe no one should graduate from high school with less than four years of earth science. Judging from the spelling we see, four years is wasted on English. But there are limits. While an environmental geologist like me picked up a lot of biologic sciences, the ones interested in metamorphic geology were looking at physical chemistry and weren't concerning themselves with the difference between the plants of a fen and a bog. With time, many make huge leaps into new specialties as they became more familiar with other fields.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Whats it to ya? Finch's Avatar
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    Judging from the spelling we see, four years is wasted on English.
    Pfft. There are thousands of words, and some very ambiguous rules with multiple exceptions. Expecting everyone to remember the correct format for every case is somewhat unreasonable in my opinion. Not that you are suggesting this, but some of us cannot remember how to spell some words we hardly ever use to save our life.
    that makes no logic

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