Introduction of the PALEOPOLAR project on INTERNATIONAL INNOVATION.
PALEOPOLAR Palynology Findings
PALEOPOLAR researcher Dr. Venessa Bowman from University of Leeds has some new findings on Palynology:
Well-preserved organic-walled microfossils (palynomorphs) from terrestrial plants and marine algae have been discovered in the latest Cretaceous to Paleogene shallow marine to terrestrial sediments collected for the PALEOPOLAR project. Fossil spores and pollen from mosses, ferns, conifers (notably podocarps) and flowering plants (southern beech, proteas) provide information about the vegetation growing at this time on the Antarctic Peninsula. Those that can be compared easily with modern relatives can also provide information about palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental conditions. For example, fragile spores comparable to modern Azolla spores suggest the presence of freshwater ponds in the arc coastal lowlands.
Fossils of marine algae (mainly dinoflagellate cysts) help date the sediments and provide information on marine palaeoecology. Modern dinoflagellate cysts are both autotrophic and heterotrophic. Abundance and diversity of similar forms from the fossil record are helping us understand more about the basis of the food web across the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition. Initial results suggest interesting changes in productivity and rates of speciation in the fossil marine algae, which may influence similar trends in the macrofauna (for example, the bivalves and gastropods).