Rise of East African Plateau dated by whale fossil | Science News

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Rise of East African Plateau dated by whale fossil

Old bones’ elevation constrains timing of uplift that influenced human evolution

3:25pm, March 16, 2015
whale fossil

STUCK UP  A beaked whale that got stuck in a river 17 million years ago is helping to pinpoint when the East African Plateau began to rise.

A 17-million-year-old whale fossil is helping scientists pinpoint when the East African Plateau started to rise. Determining when the uplift happened has implications for understanding human evolution, scientists say.

Shifts in the Earth’s mantle pushed the East African Plateau upward sometime between 17 million and 13.5 million years ago, researchers report March 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their analysis was based on a Turkana ziphiid fossil first discovered at the edge of the plateau in Kenya in 1964. The beaked whale’s skull was described in a 1975 paper, then misplaced until 2011, when it was rediscovered in a fossil collection kept at Harvard University.

Studying the fossil and the original

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