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Study casts doubt on earlier ice cap research

Source:  Copyright 2007, Reuters
Date:  August 22, 2007
Byline:  Michael Kahn
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Pinhead-sized fossils buried deep under the ocean show that glaciers did not coat the poles 41 million years ago, a new study shows, disputing earlier research that suggested huge ice sheets covered the Earth's extremities.

Any glaciers then -- a time when the planet was much warmer -- would only have been in small areas in Antarctica's interior and not in the Northern hemisphere, said Paul Wilson, from Britain's National Oceanography Centre, who led the study.

Wilson's study contradicts research published in 2005 that suggested ice sheets covered much of both polar regions, despite the higher temperatures. He added that the fossils could provide clues to the future of climate change.

"Essentially their idea (in the earlier study) was a mistake based on inadequate data," he told Reuters of the previous study before his work appeared in the journal Nature.

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