Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Urine" Is Now Used To Study Past Climate Changes

There are many scientific methods to study past climate changes - ice cores, sediment layers, fossils, etc. Recently, new method has been used to investigate the changes by digging into ancient layers of dried urine left by the rock hyrax.

Why hyrax? Hyrax is a highly sociable animal forms communities and will live in the same rock fissures for long long time. They are highly disciplined when come to pee. Young hyrax was taught to pee at the same place every day, and that place will be the common toilet for the community for centuries and millennia. In South Africa, one nest was found to have urine layer that had been building up for the past 55,000 years.

According to Brian Chase, project leader from Montpelier University in France, hyrax's urine is thick and viscous, and will dry quickly. It contains pollen, bits of leaves, grasses and gas bubbles that provide precious information of the climate at the time.

"Once we have found a good layer of solid urine, we dig out samples and remove them for study. We are taking the piss, quite literally – and it is proving to be a highly effective way to study how climate changes have affected local environments.", said Chase.

This is just one of the many methods and studies done on climate changes, but it shows how creative scientists can be about finding climatic clues from the past.

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