Scientists, with the help of Gero Moosleitner, an amateur paleontologist, have recently discovered 180-million-year-old fossils of deep sea animals in the coastal areas of Austrian Alps. The discovery sheds light on the deep-sea life history.
Some of these old fossils have revealed that deep sea may hold origin to the hereditary of sea creatures that are found near the sea surface, such as sea stars, snails and sea urchins, says researcher.
"People always assume that biodiversity starts in shallow waters and moves to the deep sea, but these findings are evidence that the deep sea may be a neglected source of biodiversity," Live Science quoted Ben Thuy, the lead study author and an invertebrate paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History of Luxembourg.
The fossils were exposed during a landslide in Glasenbach Gorge close to the city of Salzburg in Austria and over many years, Moosleitner collected the fossil remains and informed Thy and his colleagues of the treasure.
Scientists assumed that these fossils resided in deep-sea deposits. They uncovered the 2,500 old fossils including the oldest-known members of deep-sea creatures that are alive today.
"The slopes of the gorge we got fossils from were quite steep, which made work a bit difficult, but it was also quite fun. We dug up the rock, put it in a sieve, and washed [the rocks] in the brook downslope to get fossils. It was a bit like panning for gold." said Thy.
When deep-sea fossils were compared to shallow-water fossils of the same age, more biodiversity was seen in deep sea than shallow water for some groups of animals. This finding suggests that deep sea can successfully shelter animals from being extinct than shallow water. However, scientists believe that it should not be assumed that deep sea can remain robust from any man-made damages.
The details of the finding have been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.