Printer Friendly

Strands that stand the test of time.

Strands that stand the test ot time

In a candy bar or bowl of soup, the appearance of a piece of hair can be particularly unpleasant. But George Poinar Jr., an entomologist at the University of California at Berkeley, is thrilled by the tuft of animal hair he found encased in amber from the Dominican Republic. Dating back nearly 40 million years, this hair -- probably from a rodent--is the oldest evidence of land mammals in the Caribbean, and may help prove that the West Indies have supported a diverse animal population for tens of millions of years, he says. As a bonus, four flea-sized parasites also were preserved by the amber, which is a fossilized form of tree resin.

Previous evidence for land mammals in this region went back only 100,000 years, and scientiests have traditionally thought that most animals reached the islands only recently by swimming, flying or floating on debris. This new find, however, supports a rival theory that the West Indies were long ago attached to either North or South America, where animals roamed. Then the islands separated through plate tectonics and drifted to their present positions, carrying along an assortment of creatures isolated from the continent.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:oldest evidence of Caribbean land mammals found encased in amber
Publication:Science News
Date:May 7, 1988
Previous Article:When winds blow, does the earth quake?
Next Article:Low-cholesterol eggs? This smells fishy.

Related Articles
Oldest East Coast mammals.
Extinctions on ice: mass extinctions of North American mammals at the end of the last Ice Age continue to draw scientific attention and debate.
Amber yields samples of ancient air.
Mammoth find fuels extinction debate.
New look at the sprawl in gator's gait.
Ancient-air idea may not hold water.
Whale evolution: a sexual footnote?
Rodent jaw lights up dark age of evolution.
They're alive!
Oh, what a sticky web they wove.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters