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Blogging from Deep Down Under –

Hunting for living fossils in the deep sea

Munich, 11/24/2009

On November 24th, a team of geobiologists of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich led by Professor Gert Wörheide will set off on a voyage into the past. The goal of the project Deep Down Under is to search the coral reefs on the Queensland Plateau and the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia for living fossils, including sponges, echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins and sea lilies), cold-water corals and species of the genus Nautilus to which the well known chambered nautilus belongs. The members of the expedition will document their findings and adventures in a blog at www.deepdownunder.de. “The ecosystems on the Queensland Plateau have hardly changed at all over the course of millions of years” says Wörheide, who co-leads the expedition with Dr. Carsten Lüter (Natural History Museum Berlin) and Professor Joachim Reitner (Universität Göttingen). “Organisms that were thought to have been extinct since the end of the Mesozoic 65 million years ago have found refuge there”. The 15-member team that also includes Australian scientists from the Queensland Museum and the University of Queensland in Brisbane and James Cook University in Townsville intends to study marine fauna at depths of up to 1 km. With the aid of a remote-controlled submersible (ROV), the team aims to recover specimens, which will be compared with other modern forms and with fossils from the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. (suwe)

 

Contact:
Professor Gert Wörheide
Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences & GeoBio-Center, LMU Munich
Tel: +49 (0) 89 / 2180-6718
Fax: +49 (0) 89 / 2180-6601
E-mail: woerheide@lmu.de
Web: www.palmuc.de and www.mol-palaeo.de

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