Vaylats. When the Earth cooled… 34 million years ago

Vaylats. When the Earth cooled… 34 million years ago
Vaylats. When the Earth cooled… 34 million years ago

A conference will be held at the Salle des Fêtes in Vaylats on Friday, July 12 at 8:30 p.m. Romain Weppe, a paleontologist at the Institute of Evolutionary Sciences in Montpellier, will present a fascinating story that occurred 34 million years ago in France: the extinction and climate change evidenced by the Quercy fossils. It is now estimated that 99% of the species that have existed on Earth are now extinct. This is why understanding the reasons for the extinction of species has become a central subject in evolutionary biology and paleontology. After the mass extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, the Eocene-Oligocene transition (34 million years ago) coincides with one of the major extinction events of the last 66 million years. This transition is associated with a global cooling of the planet, estimated at around 5 °C, a significant drop in sea levels and the establishment of the Antarctic ice cap. At the same time, a major renewal of the fauna occurred, historically known as the Grande Coupure. In Western Europe, this event is associated with the extinction of about 50% of the endemic mammal fauna and the massive arrival of modern mammals from Asia. It is indeed necessary to imagine that between 50 and 34 million years ago, the European and Asian continents were separated by seas. Many hypotheses are now proposed to explain the extinction of European island species. The study of fossils of artiodactyl mammals from Quercy (represented today by pigs, ruminants, camelids, hippopotamuses and cetaceans) has allowed us to better understand the modalities of this major extinction event 34 million years ago.

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