#AceEnvironmentNews says LS of CHICAGO — Oysters, barnacles and corals that cling to ancient artifacts strewn about the seafloor are often a scourge in the eyes of marine archaeologists; researchers might spend days carefully scraping stubborn life forms off vases pulled from shipwreck sites. But some scientists say these nuisances deserve more attention.
The RPM Nautical Foundation is starting to document the creatures clung to ancient ceramic amphoras, as they map shipwrecks throughout the Mediterranean. These new data points promise to help scientists learn more about the region’s underwater ecology and history, Derek Smith, a researcher at the University of Washington and RPM team member, explained here Friday (Jan. 3) at the Archaeological Institute of America‘s annual meeting.
To study how species spread and colonize in different underwater regions, ecologists traditionally lay down small square tiles and return to them in a year or so to see what’s latched on, but amphoras are actually a much better proxy for the natural environment, Smith said. [See Underwater Photos of the Life Thriving on Ancient Vases]
“The amphoras have shape to them, they’ve got little cracks and crevices, they’ve got an interior and an exterior space, they’ve got different material types like different clays from around the region — things like that inspire all different communities to show up,” Smith told LiveScience. “So looking at things that have been in the ocean for 2,000 years versus one year on a settlement tile provides clues to settlement and recruitment processes that you can’t get anywhere else in ecology.”
Courtesy of: LS
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