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325-Million-Year-Old Amphibian Bones Discovered in County Clare

9th October 2019
Artist’s interpretation of Carboniferous tetrapod from Scotland by Rachel Carr, copyright National Museums Scotland. Inset: Fossil amphibian bone from County Clare. Artist’s interpretation of Carboniferous tetrapod from Scotland by Rachel Carr, copyright National Museums Scotland. Inset: Fossil amphibian bone from County Clare.

The fossilized bones of a tiny amphibian-like creature that scurried around the shores of County Clare 325 million years ago have been discovered by Dr Eamon Doyle, a geologist for the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark and Clare County Council. The two small bones have been described by Dr Doyle and fossil vertebrate researcher Aodhán Ó Gogáin of Trinity College Dublin in the latest edition of the Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, published by the Royal Irish Academy. 

The 10mm-long bones come from a leg and possibly a hip bone from a small amphibian that would have been an ancestor to the first lizards which ultimately evolved into the dinosaurs 100 million years later.

The amphibian lived during a geological time called the Carboniferous Period which lasted from 360 to 299 million years ago. This is an important period in the evolution of life as it is during this time that amphibians evolved from fish and first began to colonise the land. The fact that amphibian bones are rare finds in rocks of this age highlights the importance of Dr Doyle’s discovery.

The amphibian from Clare which would fit in the palm of your hand, probably lived along a swampy coastline, either in an estuary or along rivers further inland and may have been washed out to sea during a storm or flood, the bones eventually settling onto the muddy seafloor where they were buried and turned to fossils.

Published in Marine Science
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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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