Thursday, February 25, 2010


To many present inhabitants of Pomerania it may seem that the culture expressed in its historical language, folklore and traditions of the region ceased to exist a long time ago. Some would say that it happened at the beginning of the 15th century, when the Slavic tongue disappeared there. Others would maintain that the culture of Pomerania belongs to the past since the native people were expelled and dispersed after 1945. Most of us is likely to believe that a living and breathing Pomeranian culture did not survive. Well, not so! Pomeranian civilisation remains alive among the world's biggest Pomeranian community in southern Brazil. Let the Krakowiak dance, performed by the Brazilian Pomeranos, be an introduction to the present post:

The Pomeranos are nowadays an about three-hundred-thousand community which arrived from Pomerania in the 19th century and settled down in the three southern states of Brazil: Espirito Santo, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.

At those times of great emigrations the people from the poorest regions of Europe, mostly from Ireland, Pomerania and Austrian Galicia, were leaving their homeland in search of "the promised land" in other parts of the world. The Pomeranians were induced to emigration not only owing to poverty but also due to drastic social policy, at first, by Frederick William III, the king of Prussia, and then by Otto von Bismarck. The first one prohibited public and later on even private practicing Lutheran religion, the dominating confession in Pomerania. The other one, nicknamed "the Iron Chancellor" who, by the way, had for a spouse Johanna von Puttkamer, who came from the old Pomeranian noble family of Slavic origins, and whom he very much respected, from one side he succeeded in unification of Germany and in its substantial economic growth, and on the other hand, he suppressed non-German minorities and non-German culture.

USA and Australia was then the main destination for Pomeranian craftsmen and city workers who were a little bit better off than hopelessly poor inhabitants of villages and of land estates. Some three or four hundred people emigrated from the city of Massow (now Maszewo) and its neighbourhood to the USA in that period. Most of them settled in the state of Wisconsin, where during 150 years they have completely assimilated in the American society and they have even lost the sense of distinct features of Pomeranian culture, as compared with German.

The poorest Pomeranians had no piece of land and no house. They were sheltered under the roof of a junker's farmstead, in return for their work rendered in the land estate. They, like many people from the Naugard (Nowogard) county, often chose Brazil for emigration, as the king Pedro II offered to immigrants a free ship travel, a free piece of land (to be deforested) and an in-kind loan, in the form of farm animals and grain). They arrived to Brazil with little belongings and were given place in the heart of the forest, away from the roads and of other settlements. They began to built their second homeland. Isolation from the outside world strengthened their internal social bounds and the will to survive. The first cottages in Pomeranian style were raised and the first, half-timbered church, without a single brick, was built. There are many blogs of the Pomeranos on the internet, who treat about their history and culture. Here is one of the photos there from, the archives of Ursula Topper Dettmann:

The contemporary Pomeranian language, called Pommersche Platt, is a dialect of the Low-German language (Plattdüütsch) that was somehow influenced by the Dutch language. It is quite different from the old-Pomeranian which was Slavic language and which became extinct at the beginning of the 15th century. I do not know if any Slavic remnants of the old-Pomeranian were preserved in the actual language of the Pomeranos. In the opinion of historians and linguists the tongue of the Pomeranian Slavs might have been closely related to the language of the Polabian Slavs. In the book "The Biblical Repository" (Vol. 4, 1834) Edward Robinson mentions that the latest known church mass conducted in the Polabian language took place in Wustrow, called also Wendland (40 km West of Wittenbegre on Elbe) in 1751.

According to the study "Slawische Orts- und Gewässernamen in Deutschland" by Oswald Jannermann (2009), there are about a thousand geographical names in today's Germany (towns, villages, rivers, lakes, terrains) of Slavic origins. They are usually ending on -itz, -enz, -ik, -in oraz -ow. For example Berlin, Leipzig (formerly Leipzik). It is interesting to see how certain Slavic languages are related one to another, if we take nasal vocals into consideration. The latter are present in the Polish, Polabian and old-Pomeranian languages, and are absent in the Russian and Lusatian languages. For example, the word "meadow" means łąka in Polish, lonka or lanka in Polabian, but luka in Russian and luk or luckau in Lusatian.

The contemporary Pomeranian language (of German origins) was introduced as a subject to Pomeranian children of five primary schools in the state Espírito Santo in 2005. A year later, Prof. Ismael Tressmann, ethnographer, linguist and intellectual authority of the Pomeranos, issued the Pomeranian-Portuguese dictionary "Pomerisch - Portugíísisch Wöirbauk", containing about 15 thousand entries.

The excellent researcher of Pomeranian culture, the native, late Klaus Granzow, during his visit by the Pomeranos in 1975 had remarked that they did not know the Pomeranian word Kauke, for cake. Instead, they used the German word Kuchen. He concluded then that the original Pomeranian word dropped out of use and was forgotten, because due to poverty the Pomeranos have not eaten cakes for some generations since their arrival to Brazil 150 years ago. I think it is quite possible that even the first Pomeranian immigrants to Brazil did not already know the word "cake" in their native language because, being farmers dispossessed of their own farmland, they had been the poorest social class in Pomerania for ages. The chances are that the Pomeranos are the descendants of Pomeranian Slavs, and thus they are the inheritors of Pomeranian culture, regardless how much it has changed throughout the ages.

The Pomeranos referred to their Slavic, but also to German roots, while giving the grounds to the draft law of the state parliament of Rio Grande do Sul which resolved in 2007, in the 150th anniversary of their immigration, that the 18th of January would be a Pomeranian Day in the state. In the broadcast of 6.09.2004, dedicated to German traces in the state of Espirito Santo, the Radio Deutsche Welle informed in Portuguese that the "Prussian province of Pomerania preserved its particular cultural identity, despite of diverse attempts to be dominated on the part of Danish, Swedes and Germans".

While German colonisation of the Duchy of Pomerania followed its christianisation in the high middle ages, the native Slavs who did not assimilate with the newly arriving culture and social organisation, and that usually concerned the poorer people, had an obstructed access to education and to performing handwork and trade. They were forced, either legally or economically, to leave the towns and to settle in villages. Those indigent Slavs formed up an essential part of the peasant class, the third and the lowest order of feudal society. In the course of the ages they became more and more impoverished, for the benefit of the growing latifundia, belonged to the Pomeranian nobility, easily adopting German culture, to the German colonists and to the Catholic Church.

It is worth saying that the increasing gap in social stratification and the growth of economical and political power of nobility was a typical process in all European countries in the feudal epoch. From the historical perspective it can be clearly seen that the surrounded by stronger neighbours Duchy of Pomerania, in the face of alternating threats to her sovereignty from Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Germany, was bound to look for an alliance with one of them, in order to protect herself from the others. The Slav character of Poland and Pomerania apparently appeared to be a bond too weak and too loose, comparing with the potential of Christianity introduced in Pomerania by Germans.

The religion brought about not only expulsion of the Slavic or pagan tongue (as it was then considered) and replacing it with German, but it decidedly contributed to the economical growth of the Pomeranian state. One should also remember that when the Poland of the Piast dynasty included Pomerania into its territories, it did not come out from a common agreement of two Slavic states but it was a consequence of the preceding, repeated conquests of the Pomeranian land by Poland. It was exactly during the reign of the Polish king Wladislaw Herman when his army commanded by the palatine Sieciech invaded Pomerania and ravaged the castle at Maszewo or Massow in 1092 (as well as the castles at Pyrzyce, Stargard, Bialogard and Kamien). The Massovian castle was probably never rebuilt thereafter.

Pomeranian culture has grown up both from the Slavic and German roots. And the same like a man whose character is subjected to certain evolution during his life span, a local community or a whole nation evolve during their ages-long history. The Pomeranian cultural heritage is also an outcome of changes which occurred in history to its language, customs and even to its religion. What has not changed, as in other local communities, is its sense of identity with the homeland, with its nature and climate, and with the rhythm of life common to other countrymen. The contemporary Pomeranos, despite of enormous restrictions and obstacles which they have encountered on their way in the last 150 years, safeguarded the culture of their forefathers. We may have for them for that a lot of admiration. I shall write about those encounters and risks and about the culture itself, by another occasion. It is certainly worth to!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The merging of Avalonia with Baltica and Laurentia 440 million years ago began a process, lasting another 150 million years, of a formation of the European continent as a part of a newly-born super-continent Pangea. At first, as a consequence of the accretion, mountain ranges began to emerge along the suture zone (as geologists call it) between the three tectonic plates. The mountain building (orogeny) was accompanied by a strong volcanic and magmatic activity, as reflected in the diagram reproduced below. It is worth saying that a thrusting of a tectonic plate under another one brings about not only a mountain formation and provokes volcanism but it pushes the second plate backwards, though at much slower rate than the first plate dips underneath. Such process, named subduction, lies at the background of the present drifting of the North-American continent away from Europe. The so called Caledonian orogeny lasted till the end of Silurian and was over some 415 million years ago.

In the period from the beginning of Silurian, through Devonian and Carboniferous, till the early Permian (440-280 million years ago) new terrains or tectonic blocs were joining the European part of Pangea, until Europe took more or less the today's shape. Its primary, the most autonomous and the biggest tectonic part is called the East European Craton (EEC) which comprises today's Scandinavia and the Russian Plains. The other terrains which accreted to the EEC originated mostly from the off-shore parts of the former paleocontinent Gondwana, from the vicinities of what is North-West Africa and Venezuela today.

The present-day Europe contains also a part of the today's North America that belonged before to Laurentia. These are the crystalline basement rocks lying now under Scotland and Northern Ireland. One may say that the European cultural, national and linguistic diversity of today has its equivalent in diversity of origin, age and structure of its geological foundations. When Europe assumed her shape 280 million years ago, the world did not look yet as today. Some continents were still in quest of their place, as one may see from the below map.

Avalonia, the "native" tectonic foundation of Pomerania, was born much earlier, some 600 million years ago, as a result of the subduction of ocean plate under the continental plate of Gondwana. Unlike Baltica and Avalonia, however, Gondwana had a wide strip of submarine shelf under which, in a distance of hundreds of kilometers from the shore, the oceanic plate was submerging. Therefore, instead of a mountain-rising on the land, what normally takes place in a subduction zone, a volcanic arc was formed in a shallow sea on the Gondwana shelf. The Avalonia name derives from the name of the present peninsula in the Newfoundland which, as we talked before, shares the same tectonic foundation also with Pomerania.

While Avalonia was nearing to Baltica and the ocean plate was immersing under the two continental plates, the submerged so far in the sea the Pomeranian part of Avalonia began to rise alongside the subduction zone, until it emerged completely at the end of the suturing stage. The pattern of European lands of 425 million years ago depicts approximately the following map. The delineation of the Caledonian Orogeny (yellow line) is not, however, precise enough; it does not reflect that the Pomerania was subjected to the mountain formation, as well.

The Caledonian orogeny which followed as a result of the collision, built up a mountain range in Pomerania which ran alongside the suture zone with Baltica, from the north-west to the south-east. The mountains built some 420 million years ago had been subjected to erosion for the next 40 million years. The rainfalls built up a system of rivers which transported rock sediments into valleys, lakes and eventually to the sea. The landscape of Pomerania in the upper Silurian might have looked like depicted below.

After Baltica and Avalonia absorbed the collision, there was an enormous amount of kinetic energy accumulated on both sides of the suture zone. That happens due to certain elasticity of the lithospheric rocks and plasticity of the asthenosphere which carries moving tectonic plates. Repulsive forces contained in the collided continents act in similar way like the so called isostatic reversal to equilibrium by a tectonic plate which was subjected earlier to a large amount of sediment or ice deposition. In my second post I gave the example of Scandinavia's raising after having been released from the burden of glacier. Such was the background of a certain "rebounding" of Avalonia from Baltica in early Devonian, about 400 million years ago.

The process was not strong enough to separate the plates again but it made the crust between them thinner. In result, the land in the suture zone began to subside and to form a vast basin expanding from then just formed the Holly Cross Mountains, through Pomerania, Germany and Holland up to England. The basin was gradually filled with sea water. At the basin south-east periphery, at the today's locality of Zachelmie near Kielce, Poland the scientists found lately the oldest in the world tetrapod footprints, where the creature lived 395 million years ago. In the course of the next 80 million years the basin was subjected to expansive sedimentation with the deposits of the eroding neighbouring terrains and with the settlings of calcareous remnants of the marine fauna.

The Variscan orogeny followed the Caledonian, driven by the joining from the south the European continent "under construction" subsequent terrains, departing from Gondwana. In a period of about 400 to 300 million years ago, the old lands of Avalonia were under pressure from the South by younger tectonic blocks. The blocks formed in latitudinal bands were subsequently docking to the surfaced part of the continent. The European land mosaic of 350 million years ago, looked like more or less, as reproduced below. Please note that at that time the equator was still north of Poland, outlined here with red colour.

The Pomeranian part of Avalonia became a midpoint of the biggest volcanic and magmatic eruptions on the European mainland. The European volcanism reached its culmination in the Permian period, about 290 million years ago. Its epicenter was under the area between today's cities of Neubrandenburg and Anklam. Hot magma, ashes, rocks and poisonous gases were erupting from the numerous volcanoes and crust disruptions and were covering the central area of the European basin.

The central-European basin which appeared in Devonian was further shaped in the Variscan orogeny in Carboniferous and Permian. The surrounding mountains and uplands cut off eventually a connection of the basin with open oceans. The basin turned into a large, closed sea reservoir, similar to the today's Caspian Sea. It was named the Southern Permian Basin because it was filled in Permian with sediments and became so shallow that the sea waters largely evaporated and left behind immense stratum of salt rock. The boundaries and thickness of the Permian sediments of the basin were traced by Mr. Mark Geluk, the scientist of the Netherland Institute of Applied Geoscience TNO. Thanks to his courtesy, the below depicted map could have been reproduced from his interesting website. The white colour represents terrains situated above the basin, whereas for the areas in grey no sufficient information is available.

The map portrays sediment thickness of the rock called Rotliegend, consisting mainly of sandstones (often of red colour) and of the conglomerates, debris and detrital rocks of a volcanic origin, coming from the areas surrounding the basin. We may, with certain approximation, consider isopachs or the lines displaying a sediment thickness as contour lines indicating also the shape and relative land elevation or the depth of the basin.

To the north-east of the area with the thickest sediment layers in the German part of the basin I marked the center of the historical biggest volcanic activity in Europe. I also exhibited the shoal place at the south-east of the basin where lived the world's oldest-known tetrapod. With the end of Permian which brought about the biggest mass extinction of the fauna and flora in the history of Earth, the Paleozoic era was over. Mesozoic came on the scene, the era of a warm climate and of abundant expansion of life on Earth.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Since we already know from the previous post titled "A journey into the deep past" that our Michelinoceras swam somewhere between Pomerania and Scandinavia, let us try to specify the place in that realm where in the period between 460 and 420 million years ago there was a shallow, warm sea where those creatures usually lived. And we certainly would not mean the Baltic Sea, as this is one of the youngest seas on Earth which originated no sooner than twelve thousand years ago. No to mention the fact that in the place of the present Baltic Sea immense fresh water lake was appearing after the end of each glacial age, as a result of melting glacier. The last period when such ephemeral lakes occurred was 130-115 thousand years ago.

We should say in the first place that the Earth crust has been in constant movement throughout its history. The tectonic plates carrying continents interact and shift together, as a result of magma circulation inside the Earth. The magma comes out to the surface of the lithosphere in the so called rift zones. The following diagram taken from the interesting blog "Tectonic Tour" well reflects the process of splitting the continental crust and of moving two continents away.

The present pattern of oceans and continents has been around for “barely” 15 million years but it changes slowly all the time. For example, North America moves away from Europe at a yearly path of 2.5 cm, and the crust under the Massovian land sinks 1 mm every year, whereas on the other side of the Baltic Sea, in Swedish Scania, it raises 1.5 mm a year. From the perspective of the length of human life a yearly change of one millimeter in the earth's movement is rather unnoticeable. Similarly, a period of 60.000 years is like an eye blink from the time perspective of Earth. Such a period would be needed for the Baltic Sea to come over to the doorstep of Massov, now being 62 km away from the sea. Actually, it may happen even earlier, if one considers global warming and an ensuing rise of water level in the oceans.

Perhaps, the perspective of the time span of a generation to which we usuall limit our reflections on consequences of our actions, impedes our understanding that we may induce the acceleration of certain processes on Earth which in the future could be detrimental to human life or to life in general. Or possibly, the skeptics are right who say that the forces of nature are too mighty for human actions to have any important meaning and that the Earth would evolve accordingly to the natural forces, irrespectively of the human activity. Let us return to the history of the Earth, on the example of the Massovian land and to the place and time of birth of our cephalopod.

Let’s take a look at the above Wiki map of the world from the Ordovician period, when the Orthocerida order separated itself from the older cephalopods, possibly from the family of Baltoceratidae. We can see that the layout of continents and oceans was quite different than nowadays. All lands in that period were nothing but bare rocks, sands and muds, with some pattern of arid rivers and lakes. There were first signs of life – the mosses, appearing now and then, alongside the brackish watersides. All animals still lived in the seas, and the first bone fish (Osteichthyes) was then the highest developed creature on Earth. There was in the Ordovician one supercontinent named Gondwana (which combined the present-day Africa, southern Europe, South America, Australia, India and Antarctica), and few other, smaller proto-continents: Laurentia (the current North America and Greenland), Baltica (Scandinavia, northern parts of Russian and the Polish Planes), Siberia, Avalonia and other pieces of land.

We are especially interested in Avalonia, because many facts indicate that the most part of present-day Pomerania rests on the once Avalonian plate. The Massovian land, submerged in the sea and located not far away from the South Pole, was marked on the map by a red dot. One may assume that at such latitudes the Orthoceridas would not enjoy optimal living conditions, due to cold waters, scarce sunshine and thus not abundant plankton, a prime menu for the ocean shelf creatures. Baltica, situated more to the North and closer to the Equator, seemed to be a more livable place to our Michelinoceras. The scientists' hypothesis that it originated from Scandinavia could also be backed up by the fact that Baltica and Avalonia were separated at that time by a two-to-three-kilometer deep seabed which could not be crossed by shelf animals, who were not very good swimmers. Its hypothetical place of birth was marked on the above map of world by a green dot (I shall return to this later).
In the Silurian period (the map comes from the Wiki) that is about 440 million years ago, Avalonia “caught up” with Baltica, docked to her and formed a common foundation of the continental plate which tied up Pomerania with Scandinavia and the north-eastern part of Poland. The binding of the two proto-continents was followed in the same Silurian period by the collision of Laurentia with Baltica and some time later, with Avalonia. A new super-continent was born, named Laurussia, extending from today’s Ural Mountains till today’s Rocky Mountains (both of those mountain ranges were formed much later).

Please draw your attention to the fact that the Avalonian craton (or a part of the newly formed continental plate), apart from Pomerania on its eastern tip, comprised also today’s Lower Saxony, Benelux, England, southern Ireland, Canadian Newfoundland and the U.S. state of Massachusetts! All these lands have a common rock foundation originating from the Ordovician and Silurian periods. We are talking about the deepest layer of the Earth's crust which for example under the Massovian land reaches depth of 35 km. Oceanic crust is much thinner, normally about 5-7 km thick. The so called mantle convection, or a slow circulation of the Earth's heat from its center to the surface, breaks the Earth's crust in its thin ocean layers. The magma released from the mantle forms mid-ocean ridges, what is well depicted by the following animation.

The continous process of the magma release along the mid-ocean rings, being a tectonic plate boundary, pushes the plates away, so that they move under another tectonic plate in the so called subduction zone. That's the way the continents "wander" on the surface of the asthenosphere, the upper part of the Earth's mantle. Here is an interesting diagram depicting the forces which make the continents moving, published on the site SMSTsunami Warning.

The crust is just above a colder part of the Earth called the mantle (about +700° C) which reaches a depth of about 100 km. And deeper under there is the so called asthenosphere, consisting of a semi-liquid magma of a temperature reaching about +1600°C. We shall not be stepping down lower … With the laps of time (measured in millions of years) the oldest rocks were successively covered by younger sedimentation layers, in accordance with subsequent geological periods. We shall talk about it in the next post.
Knowing already from the first article ("A journey into the deep past") that "Massovian" michelinoceras lived in the period 440-420 million years ago, let us return to the question of the geographical place of its existence. After having examined the history of the Pomeranian part of the continent, we can assume that this creature lived in the vicinity of the today's island Gotland, Sweden. The last Weichselian glacier took the fossiled orthocone of the specimen from there and laid on the Massovian ground some fifteen thousand years ago. On the map originating from the paper of Trond H. Torsvik and L. Robin M. Cocks "Norway in space and time: A Centennial cavalcade" in the Norwegian Journal of Geology No. 85 of 2005, I marked with yellow colour the route of transferring the fossil from the Gotland island to Pomerania. I permitted myself to slightly adjust the course of the eastern ridge of Avalonia. 

As you can see on the map, the area around Gotland from before 425 million years ago, was covered with shallow subequatorial sea waters, wherein intensively developing coral reefs ("bioherms") lived. The traveled distance by the Michelinoceras is impressive! Although born in waters of the continental shelf of the newly-born palaeocontinent Laurussia, also called Euramerica, in the vicinity of the future land Pomerania (then still plunged deep in the ocean), the creature lived in the southern hemisphere.

Its remains made a journey on the globe from the latitude of about 15 degree South to the parallel of about 58 degree North. This gives the distance in a straight line of some 8,100 kilometers. In fact, the route passed was much longer, because the continental plate moved northwards a kind of "scrolls". The last 500-km stretch the fossil passed inside the glacier to be laid down on the Pomeranian soil.

Equally impressive was the Michalinoceras journey through time. He was born and lived about 430 million years ago. His remains were trapped in the Scandinavian Silurian limestone sediment layer. The piece of rock from the original layer was taken by the glacier about 27,000 years ago on its southward route towards the present Poland. It has been kept another twelve thousand years in the glacial body, until it was released fifteen thousand years ago on the Massovian ground during the phase of the glacier’s retreat.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


How can one start up a historical blog if not “from the beginning”? If we take history in its broadest sense, comprising the events of the time that passed, certain difficulty appears of establishing “the beginning” before which there was nothing and nothing happened. For “regular” historians the task is relatively easy: the beginning was when a human being started to use a tool for the first time some two and a half million years ago. For historians dealing with Pomerania their interest does not usually go beyond the latest deglaciation of the region fourteen thousand years ago.

If we could compress the whole 4.5-billion year history of the Earth into a year, a millennium of statehood of an “average” European country would last merely seven seconds, whereas human presence in Pomerania, after the latest deglaciation, would close up in a minute and a half. And what about “the rest of the year”? What happened in the Massov land “an hour, a week or a month ago”? Or, in a real time, about half a million, 100 million or half a billion years ago?
Scandinavian Michelinoceras
For the amateurs of history, and of natural history in particular, I propose in my next few posts a journey in time, … into the depth of the Massovian land. Let the above attached photo of the fossil originating from the Massovian land be a good reason. It represents a creature which lived hundreds million years ago. 

It was a subject to an examination carried out by paleontologists of the Museum of Natural History in Luxembourg. Mr. Robert Weis and Mr. Dirk Fuchs established that it is a phragmocone of the cephalopod order of Orthocerida. It could have lived in the Permian geological period or about 250-300 million years ago and it was probably transported to Pomerania from Scandinavia in the ice sheet of the last glacier. The order existed on Earth from the Ordovician till the Triassic period or 490-200 million years ago. Mr. Harry Mutvei of the Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet of Stockholm expressed the opinion, though having seen the photos only, that it is an orthoceras originating probably from Swedish red limestone rocks, dating from the lower or middle Ordovician, thus from about 460 million years ago. 

Please see also the interesting paper titled "The Ordovician Orthoceratite Limestone and the Blommiga Bladet hardground complex at Horns Udde, Öland" by Magnus Eriksson of 2010. The Ordovician ecosystem where the orthoceratites lived in might have looked as depicted below.

Orthoceratite ecosystem in Ordovician

Mr. Jerzy Dzik of the Institute of Paleobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, who examined orthoceratite fossils contained in the erratic boulders of Northern Poland, confirmed that it is a cephalopod of the Orthocerida order which would rather belong to the genus of Michelinoceras. The fossil was covered with the limestone concretions of the Silurian period, or some 420 million years ago.

I talk about the period of emerging of the European continent in the following posts: "The Massovian Land in the southern seas" and "Turbulent origins of the European continent". Let me just present here the map of T. H. Torsvik i E. F. Rehnström from their publication "The Tornquist Sea and Baltica - Avalonia docking" (2000). It demonstrates the "moment" of convergence of Avalonia and Baltica and the beginning of the process of the fauna interchange between the two pra-continents.

Fauna exchange after Avalonia-Baltica docking

About 160 species of Michelinoceras have been so far identified and classified all over the world. I wonder to what species would the Massovian fossil be assigned or, perhaps, would it constitute a new unknown up to now, species?

Silurian Cephalopods
The extinct family Orthoceratidae belonged to the Cephalopod sub-class named Nautiloidea from which only survived, all living in the Pacific waters, a dozen or so, out of a few thousand of species which were identified in fossils all over the world. The subject of Nautiloids is interessingly treated in the website “Nautiloids: The First Cephalopods”, from which comes the picture aside. 

These animals lived in the so called neritic zone of the continental shelf, so in the shallow waters not exceeding a depth of 200 meters. They were predators which fed on primary fishes, such as a lobe-finned fish, and other small animals. Although the commentary in the film that follows is in Chinese, and the fish presented resembles rather contemporary species, let me join this animation that interestingly reproduces the Ordovician life of the Orthoceratidaes.

Such waters are better oxygenated than those in a deep ocean, mostly because the sunlight penetrates them all the way to the bottom, thus facilitating so called photosynthesis which in turn furnishes energy for developing the phytoplankton, the base of aquatic life and the prime nutrient of the animals that subsequently appeared in the evolution process. The life on Earth had just appeared in the shallow seas, and when our orthoceras was born, it still concentrated there …

I invite you to the next posts of the blog, wherein we shall follow the journey which our cephalopod and the Massovian land travelled in space and time till the present day.