In the course of the Lesser Tertiary, a sea spread over the lands of Europe as far as the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, whose promontory, the eastern Parathethis, connected with the Indian Ocean roughly in the region of Iran. It formed, together with the Mediterranean Sea, an important link between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, and thanks to the influx of warm water masses of the subtropics into the tropics, it ensured the maintenance of relatively high air temperatures over the continent.
“It is very interesting and important to study this sea, because the aforementioned disconnection, along with other factors, caused the gradual cooling of the northern hemisphere, which led to ice ages,” says Professor Katarina Holkova, describing the objective setting of the study.
In Central and Western Europe, scientists have meticulously processed the available data regarding this sea, but in Eastern Europe (Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Kazakhstan) the situation is the opposite. Any specimens from this region are therefore very interesting, and research should focus primarily on the features in the Crimean region, which are of most interest to paleontologists—the so-called type profiles.
“In the late eighties, I had the opportunity to look at the type of site. At that time, we spent fourteen days on the spot, but even then Soviet colleagues did not allow us to take samples,” Professor Holkova recalls about the unsuccessful expedition. After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russian scientists began to work more intensively in the region.
In 2017, Yulia Vernihorova contacted Professor Holkova from Kiev (Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology of Cenozoic Sediments, Institute of Geosciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), a paleontologist and stratigraphist.
Until 2014, its scientific activity was focused on the study of the Neogene of the Kerch Peninsula, and it also provided scientific support for the geological survey of the Kerch Peninsula and the eastern part of Crimea from 2008 to 2014. Before 2014 it managed to take samples from the Crimean profile.
“Yulia is aware of the great importance of her scientific expertise and the importance of the materials obtained from this field. She was greatly disturbed by the situation surrounding the research into Crimean features,” explains Professor Holkova.
Julia was able to come to Charles University in Prague (and later to Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich) and bring valuable subjects in 2018.
Professor Holkova describes the meeting with the Ukrainian scientist: “I brought such small specimens with holy reverence.” “Together with our other colleagues, we agreed that we simply have to deal with such small samples and try to get as much data as possible from the material.”
Scientists from Charles University’s Faculty of Science tackled microbiology and applied advanced geochemical methods to the samples.
A co-author from Munich (Professor Dr. Bettina Reichenbacher, Department für Geo- und Umweltwissenschaften, Paläontologie & Geobiologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany) addressed the vocal consonant structures of the inner ear of fish (otoliths), which showed the authors what the column was like. of the sea studied in the younger Tertiary period, and helped structure the comprehensive manuscript data.
Our other colleagues (Nila Dolakova, Masaryk University, Brno) processed the pollen that remained in the sediments and based on them calculated temperature, precipitation, and other data to reconstruct landscapes on Earth.
“The material Yulia brought had an important geopolitical aspect, but it was also very interesting from a scientific point of view. Until now, there has never been a reconstruction of what the landscape looked like on land from that region,” explains Professor Holkova. At the time, Central Europe was enjoying its warmest period in the past fifteen million years, with dense forests, palm trees, and relatively humid conditions.
Therefore, it was interesting to see what the landscape at the edge of the vast continent was like at that time and whether the differences between the coastal and inland continental climate were really evident during the Tertiary period.
One of the most interesting results of the work is that there were steppes in the younger Tertiary period in the Crimea. “We didn’t really expect that, because herbaceous biotopes are relatively young,” comments Professor Holkova about the study’s output. “However, steppe plants were clearly present in this region fourteen million years ago, when things looked very different in central Europe.”
Moreover, it turned out that the Crimean region was not crucial for communication between the Indian and Atlantic oceans, perhaps it was a kind of bay.
“The direct contact between these bodies of water must be elsewhere, and unfortunately the most interesting deposits are either not preserved at all, or we cannot find them, because they are in regions like Iran, where we cannot access them for political reasons. Often What we deal with is the areas where we touch the pain of humanity, and so we increasingly appreciate what we have here, ”explains Professor Holkova.
In the article, Yulia Vernyhorova also summarized the work that Ukrainian scholars have done since the country’s independence, when they began publishing in the Ukrainian language. Therefore, the author tried to summarize the previous findings of colleagues who also worked on the profile, but whose studies had poor access and were not known to the rest of the world due to the language barrier. Thus, the research and the article itself are really complex and thus took a long time to complete.
“It was quite ingenious that we finished the text and style of the manuscript around February 20, 2022. The colleague from Brno did not follow the current news and on the morning of February 24 sent Yulia the final edits to the article” Holkova describes the tense situation.
“Meanwhile, a colleague had already written to me about what had happened and then we decided we had to respond in some way because we saw what we sent the article to Yulia. At that moment, we all really thought the article was over because Yulia would have other things to worry about.” .
But it turned out that the opposite was true, and the scientist began writing the article, perhaps even more vigorously. She said she needed something else besides all the horror she lived every day in the war-torn country. Working on the article meant for her seeing that one day the terrible situation would end and she would be back in science again.
“When I went online, Yulia kept in touch with us. We were surprised that she was still working hard on the article,” says Professor Holkova. “When the financial support of Ukrainian scientists arrived, Yulia was immediately offered to come to Prague with her son.”
But Yulia wanted to stay in Ukraine. She decided that she could not accept the evacuation for herself and considered it necessary to stay in Kiev and help her country win. “My husband and I helped at the Kiev barricades. Every day, seven days a week, we would go to the humanitarian headquarters at Kiev Central Railway Station, and when volunteers would receive and send humanitarian supplies, distribute ready-made food to the refugees, and the wounded in the hospital,” Yulia Vernihorova says. Hospitals, people in shelters, Ukrainian defenders on the outskirts of Kiev.”
At the end of spring 2023, after the liberation of northern Ukraine, Yulia and her husband continued their humanitarian mission. Together with active volunteers, they became part of the Renovate charitable fund, and to this day, in parallel with their main work, they participate in humanitarian projects to help people affected by the Russian invasion and also help supply the Ukrainian defenders with the necessary supplies. Things to bring the Ukrainian victory closer.
The situation has not changed, but Yulia Vernihorova and her colleagues continued to work hard and gradually improved, completed and successfully published the article. The editorial board of the journal also appreciated the conditions for creating the manuscript and awarded Yulia’s article open access (the article is freely available on the Internet – editor’s note). Just like the editors, the co-authors greatly appreciate and commend the courage shown by the author when she did not abandon the manuscript and finished the article.
The study has been published in the journal Marine Microbiology.
Yuliia V. Vernyhorova et al, The Miocene Climatic Optimum at the Intercontinental Sea and Supercontinent: A Case Study of the Middle Miocene in Eastern Paratethys, Marine Microbiology (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.marmicro.2023.102231
the quote: Micropaleontology manuscript written “on the barricades” (2023, May 3) Retrieved May 3, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-micropaleontology-manuscript-written-barricades.html
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