Jan 23, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Underwater Mollusk Fossil Deposits Gateway To Glorious Past

Mar 02, 2017 11:00 AM EST

A recent research has cited mollusk fossils as an indicator of human-driven changes that take place in ecosystems under the sea. The research has been undertaken by a team from the University of Florida.

According to the University of Florida, Mollusk fossils can give an idea about the current and future conservation and restoration efforts to save the marine wildlife. Studying them can also provide a sneak peek at the condition of the oceans and its inhabitants since ancient times. The mollusk fossils are also considered as the only direct way to learn what the ecosystems could have looked like before the man-made alterations.

As per the researchers, the remains of mollusk fossils cover much of the world's ocean floor. They offer a "treasure trove" of information about the marine life thousands of years ago, studying the patterns in biodiversity under the sea with surprising accuracy. Some scientists, though, have questioned whether only the studying of mollusk fossils can provide ample information about the marine ecosystem, as they might get carried away by currents and storms from time to time. The mollusk fossils are often found from a mix of specimens, which might lead to upsetting ecological interpretations.

In order to understand the mollusk fossils' ability to record marine biodiversity, the researchers surveyed dead and living sea creatures at 51 sites off the coast of North Carolina, selecting spots differing in both environmental conditions and animals living there. They tested how accurately the mollusk fossils are able to reflect the changes in the widespread marine ecosystem. The researchers, by comparing the current communities of marine animals with the old remains, discovered that the mollusk fossils were able to efficiently reconstruct differences in the ecosystem across habitats.

According to Morocco World News, previous studies on the origin of underwater organisms suggested that the oldest mollusks evolved about 535 million years ago. They also estimated that first mollusks didn't develop shells, but a recent discovery of Mollusk fossils in Morocco has indicated that the oldest species had a hardened structure made of calcium carbonate that served as a shell.

The fact whether mollusk fossils can contribute to understanding the marine ecosystem's more mobile animals like fish remains unclear. Still, when it comes to understanding marine invertebrate biodiversity, mollusk fossils can provide unmatched precision about the restoration and protection of ocean health. 

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