Urine of Ancient Species Proves Useful in Climate Research

Researchers have used many resources to study historical and future climate change. But nobody has ever published an extensive study examining fossilized animal urine.

Until now.

An international team of researchers have been looking into crystallized piles of urine from the hyrax, a common mammal in places like Nambia and Botswana, to get clues about how the climate in those areas has changed over thousands of years.

The urine, explains Dr. Andrew Carr of England's University of Leicester, allows the researchers to look at long-scale climate change in the dry areas of Africa where typical sources found in bogs and lakes aren't available. It contains certain hyrax-produced and plant- derived molecules called "biomarkers" that allow the researchers to infer what the animal's environment looked like.

But it's not easy to get to. One of the other researchers is an experienced rock climber, which is handy because these piles of crystallized urine, or "middens," are often in hard-to-reach places and are so tough they need to be ground off with an angle grinder.

Carr says the data the researchers have gathered show a very dynamic climate since the last ice age and offer a key puzzle piece that can be compared to other climate-change data gathered from places like ice cores.

Read more at Eurekalert.

Copyright: arcticle: Dave Thier, AOL

Original article from: http://www.aolnews.com/surge-desk/article/an-inconvenient-whizz-urine-of-ancient-species-proves-useful-in-climate-research/19670709

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