Didem Doğan

Biomuseum, museum of biodiversity and the formation of Panama

Biomuseum is mostly known as the architectural piece by the famous Frank Gehry with its colourful appearance from the outside. It has lots of valuable information about how Panama geographically changed the world. I recommend you to buy a combined ticket for Miraflores Locks and Bio Museum and visit the two of them at once. You then will come to think how the millions of geographical formation was challenged by the man kind in only thirty years. Biodiversity Museum gives you well explained information with maps, interactive videos and showing some of the oldest fossils and stones. Most of the information provided here are taken from these explanations.

Biodiversity is made up off all the vast variety of living organisms and biological systems found on Earth. It includes diversity at many levels, from the genes within species to the species that make up ecosystems, to the ecosystems that together compose the global Biosphere.

Magma that cools and hardens before it reaches the surface produces bodies of rock called igneous intrusions. Large magma bodies cool so slowly that large mineral crystals have time to grow, resulting in granular-textured rocks like gabbros and diorite. The diorite formed when magma forced its way into cracks in sedimentary rock, dark fragments of which can be seen within it.

Before the isthmus of Panama closed, Atlantic and Pacific waters could mix and the oceans were equally salty. The Central American seaway allowed water to pass freely between the Atlantic and the Pacific. When the isthmus closed, the oceans were no longer able to mix, and the Atlantic became saltier that the Pacific. Water evaporated by the sun in the tropical Atlantic was transported across Panama by the trade winds, leaving the salt behind. Whereas the water fell as rain in the Pacific debuting these waters and it became less salty than the Atlantic. These differences in saltiness between the Atlantic and Pacific caused the development of the Great Oceanic Conveyor Belt, a system of deep and surface currents that circulates water through all the world’s oceans. The Gulf Stream carried warm salty water to the North Atlantic, where it cooled. Because cool salty water is relatively dense, it sank and then flowed back south. The Gulf Stream’s warm waters provided more water vapour to fall as snow and rain in the north. A feedback loop then caused the area covered by snow and ice to spread year by year. Earth entered a new period of Ice Ages. More snow fell on land, more fresh water from rivers allowed the sea to freeze at higher temperatures, and more sea ice formed. The climate cooled throughout the world, not just in polar regions. Africa became drier and its forests retreated, with profound effects on human evolution.

Today Panama is a bridge between continents and a barrier between oceans. Its creation produced profound effects on the global environment. On the right of the Panama microplane there is the Caribbean which remains warm all year, with ideal conditions for the growth of coral reefs. On the left is the Pacific Ocean where seasonal upwelling of cold deep water produces a highly productive marine environment but inhibits the growth of coral reefs.

The creation of the isthmus of Panama had effects throughout the globe. It transformed world wether patterns and oceanic circulation, and may have helped cause the Ice Ages. Panama’s rise also made have triggered climate changes in Africa that prompted the evolution of ancestral humans. 

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