Sea organism prompts climate rethink
A SINGLE-CELLED, sea-dwelling creature may force researchers to rethink the accuracy of climate records in high latitude regions, according to research in a recent issue of the journal Nature.
The humble Neogloboquadrina pachyderma is an excellent recorder of climatic temperatures through geological time. When the planet Earth experiences periods of cold, ocean waters are cooler and the organism forms an outer layer that coils to the left.
When the temperature and oceans are warmer, it develops a coating that coils to the right. D. Bauch and colleagues report that the right-coiling form has changed genetically as environmental conditions have altered.
There are also differences in the geochemical composition of their outer coatings. The researchers conclude that N. pachyderma may represent more than one species of animal. This may have implications for the vast body of climate data that has been inferred from the analysis of a 'single species' of N. pachyderma.
A large body of geochemical data from high latitude regions may need to be re-interpreted, caution the researchers.
The finding also highlights the need to investigate other relevant species to refine their accuracy and reliability as palaeoceanographic proxies.
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