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here are plenty of gaps within history, especially in ancient times that we are trying to fill. What is considered to be one of the greatest discoveries in the field of geology in the past years is the discovery of a new continent. The geographical shifts had a major impact on the changes in Europe and Asia. Specialists have always questioned the land that connected Asia with Europe.

Re-discovering Earth

A team of French, American, and Turkish paleontologists and geologists led by CNRS researchers have discovered the missing continent and named it Balkanatolia. This is because it represents a major part of Southern Balkanik countries and Anatolia which represents the Asian portion of Turkey. The distinction had been made from an endemic fauna that was very different from those of Europe and Asia 40 million years ago.

One interesting aspect that is believed by the team of researchers is that this continent allowed mammals from Asia to colonize Europe 34 million years ago. This was based on different fossils found from mammals that presented to be of Asian origin. Based on the radiocarbon footprint, the continent started to form about 200 million years ago, but they specify that only 50 million years ago it started to be used by animals to transition between the two large continents.

Map showing Balkanatolia 40 million years ago and at the present day. (Source: CNRS/Alexis Licht & Gregoire Metais)

Considered by historians as the third Eurasian continent, wedged between Europe, Africa, and Asia, it seems to have slowly merged over time into Europe, splitting the body of water stuck between Europe and Asia into the present Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It seems that the continent wants to merge into Europe, slowly closing the Black Sea.

Answer to a Mass Extinction?

This bridge between Europe and Asia is questioned to have been one of the causes of mass extinction during the Eocene-Oligocene transition. A period marked by drops in sea level and global cooling. About 34 million years ago a geographical event took place called Grande Coupure. This is where the fauna within Europe and Asia sustained major changes that altered the habitats of existing animals.

Due to these changes, a mass extinction followed and a lot of Asian species that had previously transitioned into Europe had died. This could have potentially been from the very unique fauna present in this continent. Although it is more similar to Asia, it abruptly makes the shift from one end to another of the continent of a very different habitat that was a lot colder.

Experts believe that the newly discovered continent may have been what triggered the mass extinction 34 million years ago. Without the continent, various Asian mammal species wouldn’t have had a bridge to allow their transition from Asia to Europe.

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