On the 29th of July, airplane wreckage washed up on the island of Réunion. It is highly likely that it belongs to the missing Malaysia Airlines airplane MH370. The Cologne geologist Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Herbig and the biologist Philipp Schiffer may be able to identify the site of the crash using the wreckage. Organisms that only live in certain places of the earth may be stuck to the debris.
When Herbig saw the images of the wreckage on Réunion, he was able to clearly recognize Goose barnacles. It is highly likely that these are crustaceans of the species Lepas, which only live in certain latitude dependent climatic zones.
If the Goose barnacles that are stuck to the wreckage are cryophilic, the place where the crash occurred can easily be identified. "If we find Lepas australis on the wreckage, then we can be prove with certainty that the plane crash occurred in cool southern marine areas west of Australia."
Lepas australis lives exclusively in southern latitudes but not in tropical regions. The crustacean, which is related to Balanidea, attach themselves to tidewrack in the ocean by means of a stalk. "Now, we just have to see the shells to be able to say which type of goose barnacles these are," emphasizes Herbig. A more detailed analysis will also enable a reconstruction of how long the Goose barnacles have been attached to the wreckage. Herbig and Schiffer have been working on a biogeographic classification of many subtypes of this species from all tropical and temperate latitudes of the ocean since 2008.
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