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Title: Unravelling the mystery of 'Madagascar copal': Age, origin and preservation of a Recent resin
Author: Delclòs Martínez, Xavier
Peñalver Mollá, Enrique
Ranaivosoa, Voajanahary
Solórzano-Kraemer, Mónica M.
Keywords: Paleontologia
Issue Date: 18-May-2020
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Abstract: The loss of biodiversity during the Anthropocene is a constant topic of discussion, especially in the top biodiversity hotspots, such as Madagascar. In this regard, the study of preserved organisms through time, like those included in 'Madagascar copal', is of relevance. 'Madagascar copal' originated from the leguminous tree Hymenaea verrucosa, which produced and produces resin abundantly. In the last 20 years, interest has focused on the scientific study of its biological inclusions, mainly arthropods, described in dozens of publications. The age and origin of the deposits of 'Madagascar copal' have not yet been resolved. Our objectives are to determine its age and geographical origin, and thus increase its scientific value as a source of biological/palaeobiological information. Although Hymenaea was established in Madagascar during the Miocene, we did not find geological deposits of copal or amber in the island. It is plausible that the evolution of those deposits was negatively conditioned by the type of soil, by the climate, and by the development of soil/litter microorganisms, which inhibit preservation of the resin pieces in the litter and subsoil over 300 years. Our results indicate that 'Madagascar copal' is a Recent resin, up to a few hundred years old, that originated from Hymenaea trees growing in the lowland coastal forests, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The included and preserved biota is representative of that ecosystem today and during historical times. Inclusions in this Recent resin do not have the palaeontological significance that has been mistakenly attributed to them, but they do have relevant implications for studies regarding Anthropocene biodiversity loss in this hottest hotspot.
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It is part of: PLoS One, 2020, vol. 15, num. 5, p. e0232623
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ISSN: 1932-6203
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Dinàmica de la Terra i l'Oceà)

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