Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Oldest footprints in Catalonia
by Staff Writers
Barcelona, Spain (SPX) Feb 16, 2016

Ichnite from the Manyanet Valley is associated with a temnospondyl. Image courtesy Miquel Crusafont Catalan Institute of Palaeontology. For a larger version of this image please go here.

The ichnites or fossilised footprints of the Manyanet Valley (within the municipality of Sarroca de Bellera) are in two areas that differ in their environments: meandering fluvial systems in one and unconfined waters in the other. These two palaeoenvironments would have been inhabited by groups of different tetrapods during the Permian Period.

The early tetrapods (from the Ancient Greek word meaning "four-footed") were the first vertebrates to tread terra firma, developing lungs to capture atmospheric oxygen and turning fins into legs, but with a life cycle that was still closely tied to aquatic environments.

In what used to be a fluvial zone the researchers have identified ichnites (footprints) of temnospondyls (the predecessors of today's amphibians) of different sizes. "They are a group with a life pattern similar to that of present-day salamanders. Some species sucked up their food while others hunted actively, in a similar way to today's crocodiles", explains Eudald Mujal, a researcher in the UAB Department of Geology who is in charge of the study.

In this area there is greater biodiversity than in the area of unconfined waters and it includes ichnites from other groups, like seymouriamorphs, a peculiar group of animals that were almost a metre long, mid-way between the amphibians and the diadectomorphs: reptile-like animals that already laid hard-shelled eggs and could grow to up to two metres in length, approximately.

In the area where the open water used to be, the researchers have identified traces of captorhinids, a group of medium-sized (up to half a metre long) primitive reptiles with several rows of teeth, which became extinct at the end of the Permian. They have also found synapsids, the precursors of present-day mammals. "We have identified footprints of pelycosaurs, a group of synapsids that could reach four metres in length and which, in some cases, featured a sail along the spine whose function we do not know", explains Dr Mujal. The pelycosaur group died out at the end of the Permian, but another group of synapsids, the cynodonts, went on to give rise to the mammals eventually.

During the Permian all land masses were joined together in a single super-continent known as Pangea, located approximately on today's Equator and reaching as far as the Poles. In this study the researchers compare the ichnites of the Manyanet Valley with those found in what was the centre of this super-continent and they conclude that the faunistic differences observed could be due to differences in climate.

"We have realised that, in similar palaeoenvironments, the associations of ichnites, and therefore of tetrapods, change. These changes coincide with the different palaeoclimate zones proposed in the models, so the faunal distribution was probably climate-related", comments Josep Fortuny, an ICP researcher who took part in the study.

The Permian began around 300 million years (Ma) ago and ended around 250 Ma ago, leading into the Triassic, which lasted till about 200 Ma ago, and in which the dinosaurs first appeared. These two periods were of crucial importance for the history of life, as their boundary is marked by the greatest extinction the Earth has ever witnessed, when over 90% of its species disappeared: an extinction event far superior to the one that ended the reign of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

The findings were published in the journal Geological Magazine, of Cambridge University Press.


Related Links
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Explore The Early Earth at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Fossil record disappears at different rates
Laramie WY (SPX) Feb 12, 2016
Statistical analysis by University of Wyoming researchers shows wide variation in the rates at which the bones of ancient animals in the Americas have been lost. Considerably more of the fossil record of creatures such as mammoths, mastodons, camels, horses and ground sloths has been lost in what is now the continental United States and South America than in Alaska and areas near the Berin ... read more

Edgar Mitchell, astronaut who walked on Moon, dead at 85

The forgotten moon landing that paved the way for today's space adventures

ASU satellite selected for NASA Space Launch System's first flight

Lunar Flashlight selected to fly as secondary payload on Exploration Mission-1

Becoming a Martian

Site of Martian lakes linked to ancient habitable environment

Opportunity climbing steeper slopes to reach science targets

Opportunity Reaches 12 Years on Mars!

Are private launches changing the rocket equation?

NASA tests solar sail deployment for asteroid-surveying CubeSat NEA Scout

Mars or the Moon

The Orion Crew Module Pressure Vessel Ready For Testing

China Conducts Final Tests on Most Powerful Homegrown Rocket

Last Launch for Long March 2F/G

China aims for the Moon with new rockets

China shoots for first landing on far side of the moon

Putting the Public in the Shoes of Space Station Science

Russians spacewalk to retrieve biological samples

Russia to Deliver Three Advanced Spacesuits to ISS in 2016

Russian spacewalk marks end of ESA's exposed space chemistry

Arianespace to launch two ViaSat high capacity satellites

SpaceX Conducts Hover Tests

Space Launch System's first flight will launch small Sci-Tech cubesats

Initial launcher assembly clears Ariane 5 for its payload integration process

Earth-like planets have Earth-like interiors

The frigid Flying Saucer

Astronomers discover largest solar system

Lonely Planet Finds a Mum a Trillion Km Away

Scientists from MIPT gain insights into 'forbidden' chemistry

Some 5,000 years ago, silver mining on the shores of the Aegean Sea

Flow phenomena on solid surfaces

Twisted X-rays unravel the complexity of helical structures

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.