The emergence of Cyprus from the Sea

Vigne, Carrere, Briois and Guilaine claimed in 2011 that “the island of Cyprus emerged from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea during the Miocene [the Miocene Period extends from about 23.03 to 5.33 million years ago; the Troodos mountains started to emerge from the sea 10 million years ago according to the University of Cyprus] and has never been connected to any continent (Held 1989)*. As a result, the Upper Pleistocene terrestrial mammalian fauna was reduced to only four or five endemic species** (Boekschoten and Sondaar 1972; Simmons 1999): mouse (Mus cypriacus; Cucchietal 2006), genet (Genetta plesictoides), dwarf elephant (Elephas cypriotes), dwarf hippopotamus (Phanourios minutus), and perhaps a shrew” [Jean-Denis Vigne, Isabelle Carrere, Francois Briois, JeanGuilaine, 2011].

* As you will read below, the Mediterranean actually dried up 6 million years ago, ** hence it could had been somehow “connected to a continent”, and more animals could had been introduced into the island on their own.

When the Mediterranean nearly dried up 6 million years ago…

It is commonly known that about 6 million years ago, the Strait of Gibraltar, the narrow, rocky channel between present-day Spain and Morocco that connects the Mediterranean and Atlantic, closed. With no water flowing in from the ocean, the Mediterranean slowly evaporated until tectonic activity reopened the channel more than 600,000 years later. A giant abandoned river system in the size of the Nile was recently discovered under the eastern Mediterranean. The ancient river flowed for only about 100,000 years, but the evidence it has left behind is helping scientists to understand what happened in the region in the late Miocene during the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) when the diminished Mediterranean Sea was isolated from the Atlantic Ocean. Lead author Andrew Madof, a geologist at the Chevron Energy Technology Company in Houston mentioned: “Maybe 75 – 80% [of the basin] was dried out, but there was probably a lake that this river system was flowing into.” Madof and his colleagues used two- and three-dimensional seismic data collected offshore Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria to image the subsurface of the eastern Mediterranean and map the river’s remains, which constituted a collection of sedimentary deposits [Mara Johnson-Groh, 2019].

The Younger Dryas

The Younger Dryas was a major and abrupt change of the world climate which happened from roughly 10,900 to around 9,700 BC. The temperatures dropped massively entering into a near-glacial period where it was cold and windy. This happened almost immediately after there was an increase in temperatures after the previous glacial period (14,500 years ago) leading to sudden warming that in turn put an end to the Ice Age period which had lasted for approximately 100,000 years [World Atlas].

error: Content is protected !!