Finding in the DNA of a sea creature hints at a sad fate for humanity
A common ancestor has been found in the DNA of two populations of oceanic octopus, Pareledone turqueti, living in different bays that surround West Antarctica. This discovery reveals an environmental disaster of the past that is now likely to threaten humanity.
This is stated in a study published on the bioRxiv website. Scientists who analysed the DNA of two geographically separated octopus populations found that in ancient times they were part of one large family.
This family connection, scientists believe, is evidence that about 125,000 years ago, a massive West Antarctic ice sheet with a volume of 2.2 million cubic kilometres completely collapsed, connecting two bays.
Scientists believe that the ancestor of these octopus species existed about 70,000 years ago. From this they conclude that in those days, there was an ancient sea route connecting the Weddell and Ross Seas (where the octopus populations that were tested now live). The existence of such a route is only possible if the West Antarctic ice sheet has been destroyed.
According to scientists, the destruction occurred during the interglacial period between 68 and 265 thousand years ago.
As Science Alert notes, if it happened in the past, there is no reason to be sure that it won't happen again. Especially given that the rise in global temperatures may contribute to this development.
Scientists are not sure that the climate crisis can cause the complete destruction of West Antarctica, but there are forecasts that suggest such scenarios.
Their authors assume that West Antarctica is now losing icebergs the size of large metropolises much faster than the rest of the continent.
One of its most famous glaciers, known as the "Doomsday Glacier", could cause a 65cm rise in sea level if it collapses.
Scientists note that the past destruction of the West Antarctic ice sheet was due to a natural cycle in the Earth's climate, but now it may happen prematurely due to rapid global warming caused by human activity.
If the entire West Antarctic ice sheet collapses, the scale of the ensuing environmental catastrophe is now unimaginable.
Scientists predict that global sea levels could rise by 3.3 to 5 metres. As a result, the water circulation in the world's oceans will change, as well as the coastlines of the continents will radically change.
And although the authors of the study do not believe that this will happen in the next 100 years, the tipping point could occur before 2100.
Currently, more than half of the shelf glaciers that hold the Antarctic ice sheet are on the verge of collapse, and if they collapse, it could lead to irreversible losses.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL also reported that scientists had catastrophically miscalculated the melting of glaciers.
Chemicals that have settled in every piece of Antarctic ice and snow also pose a threat to humanity.