Researchers find evidence explaining northern China fossil troves

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 4, 2014, 5:41pm CST
Researchers find evidence explaining northern China fossil troves

A new report published in the journal Nature Communications by researchers at China’s Nanjing University reveals the myriad of fossils found in northern China are, in all likelihood, the result of multiple volcanic eruptions that took place in excess of 120 million years ago. As a result of these, says the researchers, a Pompeii-like blanket of ash resulted in both encased and preserved carcasses.

The research was performed by Baoyu Jiang and his colleagues, who analyzed both discovered fossils and local sediment, discovering in the process evidence that so-called “bone beds” in the region — known for the large variety of fossils discovered — are likely the result of pyroclastic volcanic eruptions. These eruptions would have caused fatal clouds of ash, hot gas, and blasts of air that killed and mobilized all the creatures around it, creating the beds.

Fossil discoveries in this region are known for being well-preserved, providing researchers with evidence of feathers, flesh, and more. The big question has been how these troves of fossils ended up together in the lake beds, and while some find the latest explanation compelling, calling it the Pompeii of dinosaurs, others remain skeptical.

Said University of Bristol paleontologist Michael Benton in a statement to National Geographic, “I think the basis of the work is good, but the evidence that the pyroclastic flows actually transported the carcasses in most cases seems unlikely. At Pompeii, people were overwhelmed and killed, but not transported.”

SOURCE: National Geographic

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