12 April 2019. There is no doubt that that the images recently taken of the Messier Black Hole are amazing. But how many people realise that they are looking at a time when the Earth was undergoing a profound biotic crisis?
The Messier Black Hole is 55 million light years away, so what we are looking at is the Black Hole 55 million years ago. To a
palaeontologist 55 Million years ago is the end of the Palaeocene period of Earth history and the start of the Eocene, a time when the Earth warmed by up to ten degrees C. This is known in the literature as the Late Palaeocene Thermal Maximum, a subject on which I and many colleagues around the world have written trying to gauge the simalarities with our own global warming future.
As you can seen from the map above during the LPTM the northern hemisphere was virtually ice-free. A very different world to the one we know today.