Alborán Sea holds a Spain-to-Africa hidden footbridge

SCIENTISTS have discovered a string of submerged islands, between the Cabo de Gata (Almería province) and what is now the Spanish city-province of Melilla, on the northern Moroccan coast.

These islands, close to the Algerian border, are near enough to each other enough which, before being reclaimed by the sea, would have acted as a “footbridge” between the Europe and Africa continents.

The volcanic archipelago, across the Alborán Sea, was created through eruptions around 10 million years ago, and served as a bridge between the continents for animals, between five and six million years ago.

Soon after this, the gradual disappearance of volcanic activity in the region, together with the cooling of the earth’s crust across the European and African tectonic plates, meant the islands began to be covered by the sea, disappearing altogether beneath the water some 1.8 million years ago.

Dr Guillermo Booth-Rea, of the Andalucía Earth Sciences Institute, and a member of Spain’s High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), says the “bridge” would have led to “an exchange of fauna” between Africa and Europe, with “camels and rabbits” using it mostly.

Dr César Ranero, of the CSIC and the Institute of Sea  Sciences, who co-authored the study, which was published in the Scientific Reports periodical, believes the bridge was making south-eastern Europe a habitat for creatures less likely to be seen outside the tropics.

DNA and RNA (ribonucleic acid) samples from western Mediterranean species show they are distantly-related to African species, the study shows.

Some of these include lizards and geckos, which would have migrated gradually from Algeria and Morocco, and even Tunisia, to south-eastern Spain.

The bridge also acted as a barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, preventing their waters mixing and leading to diverse flora and fauna in each, added Dr Booth-Rea.

Eventually, this led to what is known in geological history as the Salt Crisis, in which the Mediterranean almost became a giant freshwater lake, because salt from the Atlantic hadn’t reached it.






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Posted by on Sep 14 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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