Tiny fossils hold clues to ancient ocean network

The fossils uncovered in canton Ticino are best viewed with a microscope Ticino Natural History Museum

A Swiss research team has uncovered 242-million-year-old fossils on the Monte San Giorgio in canton Ticino. The scientists found seven fossil varieties which are fractions of a millimeter wide – less than half the width of a pin head.

This content was published on January 17, 2013 - 15:57 and agencies

As there are similarities between the newly discovered fossils and others found thousands of kilometres away, the tiny specimens are thought to be plankton from a network of ancient sea beds that may have extended as far as modern China.

On the other hand, based on the exceptional condition of the many fossils that have been found there, researchers believe the Monte San Giorgio’s ancient ocean basin was somewhat cut off from other bodies of water.

The team which made the latest fossil discovery comprises scientists from the Ticino Natural History Museum, Lausanne University and the Earth Surface Processes and Paleobiosphere programme, a research consortium from universities in French-speaking Switzerland.

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