Amazing! They find a ‘Lost World’ of mangroves over 100,000 years old away from the coast on the Yucatán Peninsula

(Photos: Octavio Aburto)

Nature in Mexico continues to amaze the world; now, a recent study revealed an ancient mangrove forest, located on the southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula .

MEXICO, (October 06, 2021).- Deep in the heart of Southeast Mexico, an ancient ecosystem of mangrove blooms over 200 kilometers from the nearest ocean. This is unusual because mangroves (salt-tolerant trees, shrubs, and palms) are typically found along tropical and subtropical coastal zones.

(Photo: Octavio Aburto)

How did they find the mangroves in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula?

A new study, led by researchers at the University of California, in San Diego, and researchers from Mexico, focuses on this lush mangrove forest in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula.

This “Lost World” is located far from the coast, along the banks of the San Pedro Mártir River, which stretches from the El Petén rainforests in Guatemala to the Balancán region in the Mexican state of Tabasco.

México. Hallan mundo perdido de manglares en Yucatán
(Photo: Milenio)

Because only the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and other species present in this unique ecosystem are known to grow in salty or semi-salty water, the binational team set out to discover how coastal mangroves settled inland, so deep in sweet water and completely isolated.

(Photo: Octavio Aburto)
  • The finding appears in the October 4th, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

By integrating genetic, geological, and vegetation data with sea-level models, the study provides the first glimpse of an ancient coastal ecosystem.

México. Hallan mundo perdido de manglares en Yucatán
(Photo: Milenio)

“The most amazing part of this study is that we were able to examine a mangrove ecosystem that has been trapped in time for more than 100,000 years.”

Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, study co-author and marine ecologist at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego and PEW Marine Fellow
(Photo: Octavio Aburto)

What’s unusual about the find?

Combining multiple lines of evidence, the study shows that the rare and unique mangrove ecosystem in the Yucatan peninsula is a relic; that is, organisms that have survived from an earlier period, from a warmer past world, when relative sea levels were six to nine meters (20 to 30 feet) higher than today, high enough to flood the lowlands of Tabasco in Mexico, and reach what are now tropical forests on the banks of the San Pedro River.

Analysis of fragments in the Yucatan peninsula. 
(Photo: Octavio Aburto)

The study gives an important insight into the past at this site and reveals the changes suffered by the Mexican tropics during the ice ages. These findings also open up opportunities to better understand future scenarios relative increase in sea level, as it moves on climate change, in a world dominated by humans.

Analysis of fragments in the Yucatan peninsula. 
(Photo: Octavio Aburto)

Had this mangrove forest already been located prior to the study,?

Carlos Burelo, a botanist from the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco , and a native of the region, called the rest of the team’s attention to the existence of this relict ecosystem in 2016:

“I used to fish here and play in these mangroves as a child, but we never knew precisely how they got there. That was the main question that brought the team together. “

Carlos Burelo, botanist at the Autonomous Juárez University of Tabasco
Investigadores descubren antiguo ECOSISTEMA de MANGLARES en YUCATÁN - Punto  por punto
Photo: (Punto por punto)

Source: UNO TV

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