This hidden forest has remained frozen in time for 125,000 years

 Deep in the rainforests of the Yucatán Peninsula , researchers have discovered a collection of red mangroves: a very ancient ecosystem frozen in time for 125,000 years, Nature World News reported  on October 6. This discovery could tell us more about the evolution of sea level during the last interglacial period.

Red mangroves are normally known to thrive in salt water. However, the recent discovery was made deep inland, in freshwater, completely isolated from the ocean, with the nearest seashore 170 kilometers away. Even more surprisingly, study co-author Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, a marine ecologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of San Diego, was amazed at how the mangrove ecosystem has been " trapped in the sea. time ”for over a hundred millennia.

Genetic, geological and botanical research recently confirmed what many scientists suspected: It was once a saltwater mangrove ecosystem, abandoned when the oceans receded during the last ice age . What we can observe is the freshwater relic of a 125,000-year-old coastal lagoon ecosystem . "  This discovery is extraordinary, " says Felipe Zapata, a biologist at the University of California at Los Angeles. " Not only are the red mangroves here with their origins imprinted in their DNA, but the entire coastal lagoon ecosystem of the last interglacial found refuge here.  "

Several other studies carried out along the Caribbean coast have detected other “  fossil lagoon ecosystems ” separated from the sea. But none of them are so far from the coast and have remained so long intact.  “  There is certainly still a lot to be discovered about how the many species in this ecosystem have adapted to different environmental conditions over the past 100,000 years. Studying these past adaptations will be very important in enabling us to better understand future conditions in a changing climate , ”concludes Octavio Aburto-Oropeza . 

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