Mexico City, Aug 2 (EFE).- A study published by Mexico’s National Science and Technology Council (CONACyT) on Thursday shows that pollen may help scientists learn about past ecosystems and olden climate conditions.
Researcher Gabriela Dominguez – who led the study – said that analyzing fossilized pollen specks may be instrumental in helping determine everything from the causes of past forest fires and the age of a corpse, to the environmental conditions of times gone by.
This is due to the fact that pollen grains are extremely resilient, which allows them to remain intact for thousands or even millions of years.
Dominguez said that, in order to discover past events, one must first “obtain nuclei from sediment in rivers, lakes, estuaries and swamps,” from which pollen samples are extracted using chemical techniques.
Then, the specimens are classified and counted to determine which are the dominant grains.
Using the resulting data, scientists may determine a particular epoch’s vegetation and climate, as is the case with nuclei obtained from coastal lagoons, which reveal the era’s water level, as well as the past existence of mangroves.
The specialist highlighted the fact that the properties and structure of pollen grains vary depending on which type of plant they come from, which may allow scientists to reconstruct the environment and climate of a specific era.
Past forest fires may also be subjects of study, as organic particles found in pollen – such as carbon traces – may shine a light on their causes.