London: Scientists have discovered a more ancient reef than the Great Barrier Reef – just 600 metres away from it.
This year, an international team extracted 34 sediment cores from three sites on the seabed, revealing a fossilised coral reef that reaches 110 metres into the sea floor.
This reef is 169,000 years old.
"This is the great-grandmother of the Great Barrier Reef," New Scientist quoted John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland, as saying.
Pandolfi believes that when rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age threatened to put the lights out on the ancient reef, some larvae travelled to shallower waters and seeded the modern one.
The findings were presented by Jody Webster of the University of Sydney at the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program conference in Bremen, Germany, in July.