It is one of the most mysterious seas, because scientists still can't understand what caused its disappearance about 5 million years ago. But recently, an international team of scientists conducted a study and learned many interesting facts about it. Scientists have become one step closer to solving the mysterious disappearance and found out what caused the death of animals living in the waters of this sea. At one time, Paratetis played a major role in the history of our planet, so let's get to know it better.
Peculiarities of the Paratethys Sea
Scientists believe that the Paratethys Sea formed about 34 million years ago. It may seem like it happened a very long time ago, but no - the story begins in the Cenozoic Era, which is where we live now. Some sources compare the size of Paratethys with the distance from Paris to Altai, that is, the length was equal to about 1,500 kilometers. But the authors of the scientific publication Science Alert recently wrote that on the modern map the ancient sea would extend from the Alpine Mountains to Kazakhstan. If you believe Google Maps, the distance between the two points is more than 5,000 kilometers, so what version to believe - is not clear.
It is worth noting that all sources give contradictory facts about Paratethys. For example, some publications call it "the largest sea in the history of the Earth", but this is far from it. Today, we have the Sargasso Sea, which constantly fluctuates around 6-7 million square kilometers - it is twice as big as Paratethys.
About 10 million years ago, during the Miocene Epoch, the Paratethys closed and became the Sargasso Sea, which occupied an area roughly from Austria to Turkmenistan. About 5 million years ago, it completely disappeared, and at the moment, the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Aral Sea are the fragments of the former Paratethys. But what caused the disappearance of the huge sea?
An interesting fact: the term "Paratethys" was first introduced by Russian geologist Vladimir Laskarev in 1924. He was a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and in 2018 a postage stamp with his portrait was issued in Serbia.
Reasons for the disappearance of Parathetis
Scientists from the Netherlands, Russia, Germany and Romania were engaged in the search for an answer to this question - the results of the study were published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports. We will not delve into the complex details and just understand that over the lifetime of the Paratethys Sea has faced four disasters. All of them were related to climatic changes that have occurred and will always occur. Periods of cooling and warming have caused the sea to lose its waters, which has caused the disappearance of many living organisms.
Scientists believe that the fauna of Paratethys was very diverse. It may have been inhabited by mollusks, crustaceans, dolphins, and whales. For example, until the sea disappeared, the extinct Cetotherium whales (Cetotherium) lived there. Their body length ranged from 2 to 8 meters and, like all mammals, they breathed air and fed their young with milk. Their fossil remains are often found in Ukraine and the North Caucasus. Some bones have traces of shark teeth - they either attacked living whales or ate the carcasses of dead individuals.
The Great Kherson Drought dealt the heaviest blow to the great sea. According to scientists, because of it, the water level in the Paratelis dropped 250 meters and it turned into many small lakes. It goes without saying that 8-meter whales and other aquatic organisms could not survive in such cramped conditions and died out very quickly.