DALLAS, Nov. 12 (UPI) — A U.S. paleontology student says he has determined central Africa’s tropical Congo Basin was arid and treeless during the Late Jurassic period.
Southern Methodist University doctoral student Timothy Myers said he used geochemical soil analysis to discover the new paleoclimate data. He said the Congo Basin that today has a massive and lush tropical rain forest was far different 150 million to 200 million years ago when Africa and South America were part of the single continent Gondwana.
Myers said the soil analysis showed the Congo Basin at that time was arid, with only a small amount of seasonal rainfall and few bushes or trees.
“There aren’t a whole lot of terrestrial deposits from that time period preserved in Central Africa,” Myers said. “Scientists have been looking at Africa’s paleoclimate for some time, but data from this time period is unique.”
He said there are several reasons for the scarcity of deposits, including ongoing tribal armed conflict that makes it difficult and challenging to retrieve them. And the area’s modern thick vegetation, humid climate and continual erosion prevent the preservation of ancient deposits.
Myers’ research was based on a core sample taken from a depth of more than a mile by an oil and mineral exploration team.
He presented his research last month in Portland, Ore., during the annual meeting of The Geological Society of America.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International