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Sample records for african fossil record

  1. Mio-Pliocene Faunal Exchanges and African Biogeography: The Record of Fossil Bovids

    PubMed Central

    Bibi, Faysal

    2011-01-01

    The development of the Ethiopian biogeographic realm since the late Miocene is here explored with the presentation and review of fossil evidence from eastern Africa. Prostrepsiceros cf. vinayaki and an unknown species of possible caprin affinity are described from the hominid-bearing Asa Koma and Kuseralee Members (∼5.7 and ∼5.2 Ma) of the Middle Awash, Ethiopia. The Middle Awash Prostrepsiceros cf. vinayaki constitutes the first record of this taxon from Africa, previously known from the Siwaliks and Arabia. The possible caprin joins a number of isolated records of caprin or caprin-like taxa recorded, but poorly understood, from the late Neogene of Africa. The identification of these two taxa from the Middle Awash prompts an overdue review of fossil bovids from the sub-Saharan African record that demonstrate Eurasian affinities, including the reduncin Kobus porrecticornis, and species of Tragoportax. The fossil bovid record provides evidence for greater biological continuity between Africa and Eurasia in the late Miocene and earliest Pliocene than is found later in time. In contrast, the early Pliocene (after 5 Ma) saw the loss of any significant proportions of Eurasian-related taxa, and the continental dominance of African-endemic taxa and lineages, a pattern that continues today. PMID:21358825

  2. Mio-pliocene faunal exchanges and african biogeography: the record of fossil bovids.

    PubMed

    Bibi, Faysal

    2011-01-01

    The development of the Ethiopian biogeographic realm since the late Miocene is here explored with the presentation and review of fossil evidence from eastern Africa. Prostrepsiceros cf. vinayaki and an unknown species of possible caprin affinity are described from the hominid-bearing Asa Koma and Kuseralee Members (∼5.7 and ∼5.2 Ma) of the Middle Awash, Ethiopia. The Middle Awash Prostrepsiceros cf. vinayaki constitutes the first record of this taxon from Africa, previously known from the Siwaliks and Arabia. The possible caprin joins a number of isolated records of caprin or caprin-like taxa recorded, but poorly understood, from the late Neogene of Africa. The identification of these two taxa from the Middle Awash prompts an overdue review of fossil bovids from the sub-Saharan African record that demonstrate Eurasian affinities, including the reduncin Kobus porrecticornis, and species of Tragoportax. The fossil bovid record provides evidence for greater biological continuity between Africa and Eurasia in the late Miocene and earliest Pliocene than is found later in time. In contrast, the early Pliocene (after 5 Ma) saw the loss of any significant proportions of Eurasian-related taxa, and the continental dominance of African-endemic taxa and lineages, a pattern that continues today. PMID:21358825

  3. Cercopithecoid humeri from Taung support the distinction of major papionin clades in the South African fossil record.

    PubMed

    Gilbert, Christopher C; Takahashi, Maressa Q; Delson, Eric

    2016-01-01

    Associated cercopithecoid postcrania are rare in the Plio-Pleistocene fossil record, particularly in the case of South African karst cave sites. However, as clear postcranial differences between major papionin clades have been documented, it should be possible to assign isolated papionin postcrania to the Cercocebus/Mandrillus and Papio/Lophocebus/Theropithecus groups wherever sufficient anatomy is preserved. Here, we demonstrate that two partial humeri preserved at Taung, UCMP 56693 and UCMP 125898, are most likely attributable to the Cercocebus/Mandrillus and Papio/Lophocebus/Theropithecus clades, respectively. Univariate analyses (ANOVAs and t-tests) and multivariate analyses (discriminant function analyses) of humeral features, combined with a phylogenetic analysis of 24 humeral characters, all support our assessment. Given that the overwhelming number of craniodental specimens at Taung are attributable to two papionin taxa, Procercocebus antiquus (a member of the Cercocebus/Mandrillus clade) and Papio izodi (a purported fossil species of the modern genus Papio), we assign UCMP 56693 to Pr. antiquus and UCMP 125868 to P. izodi with a high degree of confidence. Implications for cercopithecoid evolution and biogeography are discussed, with a particular emphasis on these two fossil taxa. PMID:26767962

  4. Reassessment of Olduvai Bed I cercopithecoids: A new biochronological and biogeographical link to the South African fossil record.

    PubMed

    Gilbert, Christopher C; Frost, Stephen R; Delson, Eric

    2016-03-01

    Fossil monkeys have long been used as important faunal elements in studies of African Plio-Pleistocene biochronology, particularly in the case of the South African karst cave sites. Cercopithecoid fossils have been known from Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge for nearly a century, with multiple taxa documented including Theropithecus oswaldi and Cercopithecoides kimeui, along with papionins and colobines less clearly attributable to species. A small number of large papionin fossils, including a partial male cranium and partial female skull, have been previously identified as an early form of Papio, but noted as distinct from extant baboons as well as other fossil Papio species. In 2013 we reviewed the Olduvai cercopithecoid material at the National Museum of Tanzania, with a particular focus on the specimens from Beds I-IV. Quantitative and qualitative comparisons of the Olduvai papionins largely confirmed previous observations, with one notable exception. The large papionin taxon from Bed I previously recognized as Papio sp. is more properly recognized as Gorgopithecus major, a taxon previously known only from South Africa. Features shared between the Olduvai specimens and G. major include relatively short and concavo-convex tubular nasals, antero-posteriorly curved upper incisor roots, downwardly curved brow ridges in the midline, and robust zygomatic arches. The recognition of G. major at Olduvai Bed I, a well-known horizon with precise radiometric dates, provides an important biochronological and biogeographical link with South African localities Kromdraai A, Swartkrans Member 1 and possibly Swartkrans Members 2-3 and Cooper's A and D. PMID:26989016

  5. Ants and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    LaPolla, John S; Dlussky, Gennady M; Perrichot, Vincent

    2013-01-01

    The dominance of ants in the terrestrial biosphere has few equals among animals today, but this was not always the case. The oldest ants appear in the fossil record 100 million years ago, but given the scarcity of their fossils, it is presumed they were relatively minor components of Mesozoic insect life. The ant fossil record consists of two primary types of fossils, each with inherent biases: as imprints in rock and as inclusions in fossilized resins (amber). New imaging technology allows ancient ant fossils to be examined in ways never before possible. This is particularly helpful because it can be difficult to distinguish true ants from non-ants in Mesozoic fossils. Fossil discoveries continue to inform our understanding of ancient ant morphological diversity, as well as provide insights into their paleobiology. PMID:23317048

  6. Extinction and the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sepkoski, J. J. Jr; Sepkoski JJ, ,. J. r. (Principal Investigator)

    1994-01-01

    The author examines evidence of mass extinctions in the fossil record and searches for reasons for such large extinctions. Five major mass extinctions eliminated at least 40 percent of animal genera in the oceans and from 65 to 95 percent of ocean species. Questions include the occurrence of gradual or catastrophic extinctions, causes, environment, the capacity of a perturbation to cause extinctions each time it happens, and the possibility and identification of complex events leading to a mass extinction.

  7. Organic molecules as chemical fossils - The molecular fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Eglinton, G.

    1983-01-01

    The study of biochemical clues to the early earth and the origin of life is discussed. The methods used in such investigation are described, including the extraction, fractionation, and analysis of geolipids and the analysis of kerogen. The occurrence of molecular fossils in the geological record is examined, discussing proposed precursor-product relationships and the molecular assessment of deep sea sediments, ancient sediments, and crude petroleums. Alterations in the molecular record due to diagenesis and catagenesis are considered, and the use of microbial lipids as molecular fossils is discussed. The results of searches for molecular fossils in Precambrian sediments are assessed.

  8. The fossil record of the sixth extinction.

    PubMed

    Plotnick, Roy E; Smith, Felisa A; Lyons, S Kathleen

    2016-05-01

    Comparing the magnitude of the current biodiversity crisis with those in the fossil record is difficult without an understanding of differential preservation. Integrating data from palaeontological databases with information on IUCN status, ecology and life history characteristics of contemporary mammals, we demonstrate that only a small and biased fraction of threatened species (< 9%) have a fossil record, compared with 20% of non-threatened species. We find strong taphonomic biases related to body size and geographic range. Modern species with a fossil record tend to be large and widespread and were described in the 19(th) century. The expected magnitude of the current extinction based only on species with a fossil record is about half of that of one based on all modern species; values for genera are similar. The record of ancient extinctions may be similarly biased, with many species having originated and gone extinct without leaving a tangible record. PMID:26932459

  9. Insect diversity in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Labandeira, C C; Sepkoski, J J

    1993-07-16

    Insects possess a surprisingly extensive fossil record. Compilation of the geochronologic ranges of insect families demonstrates that their diversity exceeds that of preserved vertebrate tetrapods through 91 percent of their evolutionary history. The great diversity of insects was achieved not by high origination rates but rather by low extinction rates comparable to the low rates of slowly evolving marine invertebrate groups. The great radiation of modern insects began 245 million years ago and was not accelerated by the expansion of angiosperms during the Cretaceous period. The basic trophic machinery of insects was in place nearly 100 million years before angiosperms appeared in the fossil record. PMID:11536548

  10. Insect diversity in the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Labandeira, C. C.; Sepkoski, J. J. Jr; Sepkoski JJ, J. r. (Principal Investigator)

    1993-01-01

    Insects possess a surprisingly extensive fossil record. Compilation of the geochronologic ranges of insect families demonstrates that their diversity exceeds that of preserved vertebrate tetrapods through 91 percent of their evolutionary history. The great diversity of insects was achieved not by high origination rates but rather by low extinction rates comparable to the low rates of slowly evolving marine invertebrate groups. The great radiation of modern insects began 245 million years ago and was not accelerated by the expansion of angiosperms during the Cretaceous period. The basic trophic machinery of insects was in place nearly 100 million years before angiosperms appeared in the fossil record.

  11. Adaptation, plant evolution, and the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, A. H.; Niklas, K. J.

    1987-01-01

    The importance of adaptation in determining patterns of evolution has become an important focus of debate in evolutionary biology. As it pertains to paleobotany, the issue is whether or not adaptive evolution mediated by natural selection is sufficient to explain the stratigraphic distributions of taxa and character states observed in the plant fossil record. One means of addressing this question is the functional evaluation of stratigraphic series of plant organs set in the context of paleoenvironmental change and temporal patterns of floral composition within environments. For certain organ systems, quantitative estimates of biophysical performance can be made on the basis of structures preserved in the fossil record. Performance estimates for plants separated in time or space can be compared directly. Implicit in different hypotheses of the forces that shape the evolutionary record (e.g. adaptation, mass extinction, rapid environmental change, chance) are predictions about stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental trends in the efficacy of functional performance. Existing data suggest that following the evolution of a significant structural innovation, adaptation for improved functional performance can be a major determinant of evolutionary changes in plants; however, there are structural and development limits to functional improvement, and once these are reached, the structure in question may no longer figure strongly in selection until and unless a new innovation evolves. The Silurian-Devonian paleobotanical record is consistent with the hypothesis that the succession of lowland floodplain dominants preserved in the fossil record of this interval was determined principally by the repeated evolution of new taxa that rose to ecological importance because of competitive advantages conferred by improved biophysical performance. This does not seem to be equally true for Carboniferous-Jurassic dominants of swamp and lowland floodplain environments. In these cases, environmental disruption appears to have been a major factor in shaping the fossil record. This does not mean that continuing adaptation was not important during this interval, but it may indicate that adaptive evolution was strongest in environments other than those best represented in the paleobotanical record.

  12. Cladistics and the hominid fossil record.

    PubMed

    Trinkaus, E

    1990-09-01

    Cladistic methodology has become common in phylogenetic analyses of the hominid fossil record. Even though it has correctly placed emphasis on morphology for the primary determination of affinities between groups and on explicit statements regarding traits and methods employed in making phylogenetic assessments, cladistics nonetheless has limitations when applied to the hominid fossil record. These include 1) the uncritical assumption of parsimony, 2) uncertainties in the identification of homoplasies, 3) difficulties in the appropriate delimitation of samples for analysis, 4) failure to account for normal patterns of variation, 5) methodological problems with the appropriate identification of morphological traits involving issues of biological relevance, intercorrelation, primary versus secondary characters, and the use of continuous variables, 6) issues of polarity identification, and 7) problems in hypothesis testing. While cladistics has focused attention on alternative phylogenetic reconstructions in hominid paleontology and on explicit statements regarding their morphological and methodological underpinnings, its biological limitations are too abundant for it to be more than a heuristic device for the preliminary ordering of complex human paleontological and neonatological data. PMID:2221023

  13. The eukaryotic fossil record in deep time

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Butterfield, N.

    2011-12-01

    Eukaryotic organisms are defining constituents of the Phanerozoic biosphere, but they also extend well back into the Proterozoic record, primarily in the form of microscopic body fossils. Criteria for identifying pre-Ediacaran eukaryotes include large cell size, morphologically complex cell walls and/or the recognition of diagnostically eukaryotic cell division patterns. The oldest unambiguous eukaryote currently on record is an acanthomorphic acritarch (Tappania) from the Palaeoproterozoic Semri Group of central India. Older candidate eukaryotes are difficult to distinguish from giant bacteria, prokaryotic colonies or diagenetic artefacts. In younger Meso- and Neoproterozoic strata, the challenge is to recognize particular grades and clades of eukaryotes, and to document their macro-evolutionary expression. Distinctive unicellular forms include mid-Neoproterozoic testate amoebae and phosphate biomineralizing 'scale-microfossils' comparable to an extant green alga. There is also a significant record of seaweeds, possible fungi and problematica from this interval, documenting multiple independent experiments in eukaryotic multicellularity. Taxonomically resolved forms include a bangiacean red alga and probable vaucheriacean chromalveolate algae from the late Mesoproterozoic, and populations of hydrodictyacean and siphonocladalean green algae of mid Neoproterozoic age. Despite this phylogenetic breadth, however, or arguments from molecular clocks, there is no convincing evidence for pre-Ediacaran metazoans or metaphytes. The conspicuously incomplete nature of the Proterozoic record makes it difficult to resolve larger-scale ecological and evolutionary patterns. Even so, both body fossils and biomarker data point to a pre-Ediacaran biosphere dominated overwhelming by prokaryotes. Contemporaneous eukaryotes appear to be limited to conspicuously shallow water environments, and exhibit fundamentally lower levels of morphological diversity and evolutionary turnover than their Phanerozoic counterparts. I will argue here that this fundamental change of state was driven by the early Ediacaran appearance of Eumetazoa, a uniquely complex clade of heterotrophic eukaryotes that redefined how the planet worked.

  14. Identifying and directly dating Plio-Pleistocene geomagnetic reversals and events from speleothems at South African archaeological and fossil bearing palaeocaves: implications for extending archaeomagnetic records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Herries, A. I.; Pickering, R.; Kappen, P.

    2013-05-01

    In the last 10 years palaeomagnetic research on speleothems from archaeological and fossil bearing palaeokarst in northern South Africa has led to the identification of apparent short geomagnetic field events that were initially thought to represent one or both of the Réunion events. More recently the development of uranium-lead dating techniques for speleothem in the 5 Ma to 500 ka time range has allowed us to directly date these events for the first time, as well as date more recently discovered events and reversals. This work now indicates that the same reversals events are often found in speleothems in different caves throughout the region. An event has been directly dated at two sites to between 2.047 and 2.0005 Ma and likely represents what has been termed the 'Huckleberry Ridge' event at other localities. Another event sometime between 2.33 and 2.15 Ma likely represents the Réunion event while another between 1.111 to 1.087 Ma is thought to represent the Punaruu event. X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy work at the Australian Synchrotron has been used to map the iron distribution in the speleothems and in tandem with the demagnetisation spectra has enabled the mineralogy and mode of acquisition of remanence to be determined and the potential effects of recrystalisation on the palaeomagnetic signal to be accessed. Further work on speleothem sequences in the caves has the potential to refine the ages of geomagnetic field reversals, events and excursions over almost any time range for which speleothems exist, if certain conditions are met. Given the rapid lock-in time of the remanence and low alteration rates and effects of speleothems they provide a powerful new medium for reconstructing Plio-Pleistocene geomagnetic field variation.

  15. Growth, function, and the conodont fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Donoghue, Philip C. J.; Purnell, Mark A.

    1999-03-01

    Interpretation of the fossil record of conodonts hinges on whether conodont elements were retained through the life of the animal or were periodically shed and replaced. Many quantitative analyses of conodont paleoecology and statistical techniques in conodont taxonomy, for example, rely on an assumed correspondence between numbers of elements and numbers of animals, but the possibility that conodonts shed their elements may undermine this assumption. As with many aspects of conodont paleobiology, hypotheses of shedding versus retention of elements have been difficult to test. Here, we describe recurrent patterns of damage resulting from element function in vivo which indicate that internal discontinuities within an element represent periods of use followed by further growth. The cyclical alternation of phases of growth and function provides compelling evidence that elements were retained through the life of the animal.

  16. Rates of speciation in the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sepkoski, J. J. Jr; Sepkoski JJ, J. r. (Principal Investigator)

    1998-01-01

    Data from palaeontology and biodiversity suggest that the global biota should produce an average of three new species per year. However, the fossil record shows large variation around this mean. Rates of origination have declined through the Phanerozoic. This appears to have been largely a function of sorting among higher taxa (especially classes), which exhibit characteristic rates of speciation (and extinction) that differ among them by nearly an order of magnitude. Secular decline of origination rates is hardly constant, however; many positive deviations reflect accelerated speciation during rebounds from mass extinctions. There has also been general decline in rates of speciation within major taxa through their histories, although rates have tended to remain higher among members in tropical regions. Finally, pulses of speciation appear sometimes to be associated with climate change, although moderate oscillations of climate do not necessarily promote speciation despite forcing changes in species' geographical ranges.

  17. Fossil Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) as Paleothermometers in the African Tropics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Eggermont, H.; Heiri, O.; Russell, J.; Vuille, M.; Audenaert, L.; Klaassen, G.; Verschuren, D.

    2008-12-01

    Reconstruction of Africa's temperature history from natural climate archives such as lake sediments is essential to amend the current scarcity of information on natural tropical climate and ecosystem variability. Chironomids are well-established paleothermometers in north-temperate/boreal regions, but their potential in tropical lakes has never before been assessed. We surveyed sub-fossil chironomid assemblages in surface sediments from 65 lakes and permanent pools in southwestern Uganda and central/southern Kenya, spanning elevations between 489 and 4575 m asl. Using various subsets of lakes and corresponding Surface-Water Temperatures (SWTemp) and Mean Annual Air Temperatures (MATemp), we developed a series of inference models for quantitative paleotemperature reconstruction. Models using both low-, mid- and high-elevation sites suffer to some extent from the small number of samples between 2500 and 3500 m asl, and from the presence of ecologically distinct but morphologically indistinguishable taxa. Models confined to mountain sites produce poorer error statistics, but are less prone to the biogeographical and taxonomic complexities associated with long climatic gradients. Overall, error statistics compare favourably with those of inference models developed for temperate regions, indicating that fossil assemblages of African Chironomidae can be valuable indicators of past temperature change. We subsequently used these models to evaluate whether high-elevation lakes in the Rwenzori Mountains (>3000 m asl) have been impacted by climate warming in recent centuries by comparing temperatures inferred from chironomid assemblages in modern sediments with those derived from chironomid assemblages in sediments deposited within or briefly after the Little Ice Age (1270-1850 AD). Depending on the model used, between 44 and 63% of the 16 lakes studied indicate significantly warmer temperatures in recent times (corresponding with an average MATemp rise of 0.88 ° C, and average SWTemp rise of 1.33 ° C), while all but one of the other lakes show temperature changes that are statistically insignificant. We conclude that chironomid communities in Rwenzori lakes adequately record past temperature changes, with potential for evaluating the impacts of past air temperature variation on the long-term dynamics of the Rwenzori glaciers.

  18. The Quaternary fossil-pollen record and global change

    SciTech Connect

    Grimm, E.C. . Research and Collections Center)

    1993-03-01

    Fossil pollen provide one of the most valuable records of vegetation and climate change during the recent geological past. Advantages of the fossil-pollen record are that deposits containing fossil pollen are widespread, especially in areas having natural lakes, that fossil pollen occurs in continuous stratigraphic sequences spanning millennia, and that fossil pollen occurs in quantitative assemblages permitting a multivariate approach for reconstructing past vegetation and climates. Because of stratigraphic continuity, fossil pollen records climate cycles on a wide range of scales, from annual to the 100 ka Milankovitch cycles. Receiving particular emphasis recently are decadal to century scale changes, possible from the sediments of varved lakes, and late Pleistocene events on a 5--10 ka scale possibly correlating with the Heinrich events in the North Atlantic marine record or the Dansgaard-Oeschger events in the Greenland ice-core record. Researchers have long reconstructed vegetation and climate by qualitative interpretation of the fossil-pollen record. Recently quantitative interpretation has developed with the aid of large fossil-pollen databases and sophisticated numerical models. In addition, fossil pollen are important climate proxy data for validating General Circulation Models, which are used for predicting the possible magnitude future climate change. Fossil-pollen data also contribute to an understanding of ecological issues associated with global climate change, including questions of how and how rapidly ecosystems might respond to abrupt climate change.

  19. The late Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil record of eastern Asia: synthesis and review.

    PubMed

    Bae, Christopher J

    2010-01-01

    Traditionally, Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils that cannot be allocated to Homo erectus sensu lato or modern H. sapiens have been assigned to different specific taxa. For example, in eastern Asia, these hominin fossils have been classified as archaic, early, or premodern H. sapiens. An increasing number of Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils are currently being assigned to H. heidelbergensis. This is particularly the case for the African and European Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil record. There have been suggestions that perhaps the eastern Asian late Middle Pleistocene hominins can also be allocated to the H. heidelbergensis hypodigm. In this article, I review the current state of the late Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil record from eastern Asia and examine the various arguments for assigning these hominins to the different specific taxa. The two primary conclusions drawn from this review are as follows: 1) little evidence currently exists in the eastern Asian Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil record to support their assignment to H. heidelbergensis; and 2) rather than add to the growing list of hominin fossil taxa by using taxonomic names like H. daliensis for northeast Asian fossils and H. mabaensis for Southeast Asian fossils, it is better to err on the side of caution and continue to use the term archaic H. sapiens to represent all of these hominin fossils. What should be evident from this review is the need for an increase in the quality and quantity of the eastern Asian hominin fossil data set. Fortunately, with the increasing number of large-scale multidisciplinary paleoanthropological field and laboratory research projects in eastern Asia, the record is quickly becoming better understood. PMID:21086528

  20. The earliest fossil record of the animals and its significance.

    PubMed

    Budd, Graham E

    2008-04-27

    The fossil record of the earliest animals has been enlivened in recent years by a series of spectacular discoveries, including embryos, from the Ediacaran to the Cambrian, but many issues, not least of dating and interpretation, remain controversial. In particular, aspects of taphonomy of the earliest fossils require careful consideration before pronouncements about their affinities. Nevertheless, a reasonable case can now be made for the extension of the fossil record of at least basal animals (sponges and perhaps cnidarians) to a period of time significantly before the beginning of the Cambrian. The Cambrian explosion itself still seems to represent the arrival of the bilaterians, and many new fossils in recent years have added significant data on the origin of the three major bilaterian clades. Why animals appear so late in the fossil record is still unclear, but the recent trend to embrace rising oxygen levels as being the proximate cause remains unproven and may even involve a degree of circularity. PMID:18192192

  1. Models and realities in modern human origins: the African fossil evidence.

    PubMed

    Smith, F H

    1992-08-29

    The recent application of such chronometric techniques as electron spin resonance (ESR), thermoluminescence (TL), and uranium series dating has had a significant impact on perceptions of modern human origins. Claims for the presence of anatomically modern humans in Africa prior to 100 ka and for the transition leading to modern Africans at an even earlier date have been made, partly based on results of these techniques. However, a careful examination of the pertinent record shows that these claims are not unequivocally supported by the available fossil and chronological evidence. PMID:1357699

  2. On the fossil record of the Gekkota.

    PubMed

    Daza, Juan D; Bauer, Aaron M; Snively, Eric D

    2014-03-01

    Gekkota is often interpreted as sister to all remaining squamates, exclusive of dibamids, or as sister to Autarchoglossa. It is the only diverse lineage of primarily nocturnal lizards and includes some of the smallest amniotes. The skeleton of geckos has often been interpreted as paedomorphic and/or "primitive" but these lizards also display a wide range of structural specializations of the postcranium, including modifications associated with both scansorial locomotion and limb reduction. Although the concept of "Gekkota" has been variously applied by different authors, we here apply a rigorous apomorphy based definition, recent advances in gekkotan morphology and phylogenetics, and diverse comparative material to provide a comprehensive assessment of 28 known pre-Quaternary geckos, updating the last such review, published three decades ago. Fossils evaluated include both sedimentary fossils and amber-embedded specimens. Known Cretaceous geckos are exclusively Asian and exhibit character combinations not seen in any living forms. Cenozoic gekkotans derive from sites around the world, although Europe is especially well represented. Paleogene geckos are largely known from disarticulated remains and show similarities to Sphaerodactylidae and Diplodactylidae, although resemblances may be plesiomorphic in some cases. Many Neogene gekkotans are referable to living families or even genera, but their geographic occurrences are often extralimital to those of modern groups, as is consistent with paleoclimatic conditions. The phylogenetic placement of fossil gekkotans has important repercusions for timetree calibration, but at present only a small number of fossils can be confidently assigned to even family level groupings, limiting their utility in this regard. PMID:24482344

  3. Estimating times of extinction in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Wang, Steve C; Marshall, Charles R

    2016-04-01

    Because the fossil record is incomplete, the last fossil of a taxon is a biased estimate of its true time of extinction. Numerous methods have been developed in the palaeontology literature for estimating the true time of extinction using ages of fossil specimens. These methods, which typically give a confidence interval for estimating the true time of extinction, differ in the assumptions they make and the nature and amount of data they require. We review the literature on such methods and make some recommendations for future directions. PMID:27122005

  4. The shape of pterosaur evolution: evidence from the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Dyke, G J; McGowan, A J; Nudds, R L; Smith, D

    2009-04-01

    Although pterosaurs are a well-known lineage of Mesozoic flying reptiles, their fossil record and evolutionary dynamics have never been adequately quantified. On the basis of a comprehensive data set of fossil occurrences correlated with taxon-specific limb measurements, we show that the geological ages of pterosaur specimens closely approximate hypothesized patterns of phylogenetic divergence. Although the fossil record has expanded greatly in recent years, collectorship still approximates a sigmoid curve over time as many more specimens (and thus taxa) still remain undiscovered, yet our data suggest that the pterosaur fossil record is unbiased by sites of exceptional preservation (lagerstätte). This is because as new species are discovered the number of known formations and sites yielding pterosaur fossils has also increased - this would not be expected if the bulk of the record came from just a few exceptional faunas. Pterosaur morphological diversification is, however, strongly age biased: rarefaction analysis shows that peaks of diversity occur in the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous correlated with periods of increased limb disparity. In this respect, pterosaurs appear unique amongst flying vertebrates in that their disparity seems to have peaked relatively late in clade history. Comparative analyses also show that there is little evidence that the evolutionary diversification of pterosaurs was in any way constrained by the appearance and radiation of birds. PMID:19210587

  5. How Good is the Fossil Record?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Boucot, A. J.

    1983-01-01

    Suggests that earth scientists become active in the creationist debate by making sure that the religious concept creationism is not taught in schools and that well-based, informative material about organic evolution, earth's age, and nature of stratigraphic record are employed by science teachers. (Author/JN)

  6. Absolute measures of the completeness of the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Foote, M.; Sepkoski, J. J. Jr; Sepkoski JJ, J. r. (Principal Investigator)

    1999-01-01

    Measuring the completeness of the fossil record is essential to understanding evolution over long timescales, particularly when comparing evolutionary patterns among biological groups with different preservational properties. Completeness measures have been presented for various groups based on gaps in the stratigraphic ranges of fossil taxa and on hypothetical lineages implied by estimated evolutionary trees. Here we present and compare quantitative, widely applicable absolute measures of completeness at two taxonomic levels for a broader sample of higher taxa of marine animals than has previously been available. We provide an estimate of the probability of genus preservation per stratigraphic interval, and determine the proportion of living families with some fossil record. The two completeness measures use very different data and calculations. The probability of genus preservation depends almost entirely on the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic records, whereas the proportion of living families with a fossil record is influenced largely by Cenozoic data. These measurements are nonetheless highly correlated, with outliers quite explicable, and we find that completeness is rather high for many animal groups.

  7. Evidence for Evolution from the Vertebrate Fossil Record.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gingerich, Philip D.

    1983-01-01

    Discusses three examples of evolutionary transition in the vertebrate fossil record, considering evolutionary transitions at the species level. Uses archaic squirrel-like Paleocine primates, the earliest primates of modern aspect, as examples. Also reviews new evidence on the origin of whales and their transition from land to sea. (JN)

  8. Giving the early fossil record of sponges a squeeze.

    PubMed

    Antcliffe, Jonathan B; Callow, Richard H T; Brasier, Martin D

    2014-11-01

    Twenty candidate fossils with claim to be the oldest representative of the Phylum Porifera have been re-analysed. Three criteria are used to assess each candidate: (i) the diagnostic criteria needed to categorize sponges in the fossil record; (ii) the presence, or absence, of such diagnostic features in the putative poriferan fossils; and (iii) the age constraints for the candidate fossils. All three criteria are critical to the correct interpretation of any fossil and its placement within an evolutionary context. Our analysis shows that no Precambrian fossil candidate yet satisfies all three of these criteria to be a reliable sponge fossil. The oldest widely accepted candidate, Mongolian silica hexacts from c. 545 million years ago (Ma), are here shown to be cruciform arsenopyrite crystals. The oldest reliable sponge remains are siliceous spicules from the basal Cambrian (Protohertzina anabarica Zone) Soltanieh Formation, Iran, which are described and analysed here in detail for the first time. Extensive archaeocyathan sponge reefs emerge and radiate as late as the middle of the Fortunian Stage of the Cambrian and demonstrate a gradual assembly of their skeletal structure through this time coincident with the evolution of other metazoan groups. Since the Porifera are basal in the Metazoa, their presence within the late Proterozoic has been widely anticipated. Molecular clock calibration for the earliest Porifera and Metazoa should now be based on the Iranian hexactinellid material dated to c. 535 Ma. The earliest convincing fossil sponge remains appeared at around the time of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary, associated with the great radiation events of that interval. PMID:24779547

  9. New fossils from the Paleogene of central Libya illuminate the evolutionary history of endemic African anomaluroid rodents

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coster, Pauline; Beard, K. Christopher; Salem, Mustafa; Chaimanee, Yaowalak; Jaeger, Jean-Jacques

    2015-10-01

    Anomaluroid rodents show interesting biogeographic and macroevolutionary patterns, although their fossil record is meager and knowledge of the natural history of extant members of the clade remains inadequate. Living anomaluroids (Anomaluridae) are confined to equatorial parts of western and central Africa, but the oldest known fossil anomaluroid (Pondaungimys) comes from the late middle Eocene of Myanmar. The first appearance of anomaluroids in the African fossil record coincides with the first appearances of hystricognathous rodents and anthropoid primates there. Both of the latter taxa are widely acknowledged to have originated in Asia, suggesting that anomaluroids may show a concordant biogeographic pattern. Here we describe two new taxa of African Paleogene anomaluroids from sites in the Sirt Basin of central Libya. These include a new Eocene species of the nementchamyid genus Kabirmys, which ranks among the oldest African anomaluroids recovered to date, and a new genus and species of Anomaluridae from the early Oligocene, which appears to be closely related to extant Zenkerella, the only living non-volant anomalurid. Phylogenetic analyses incorporating the new Libyan fossils suggest that anomaluroids are not specially related to Zegdoumyidae, which are the only African rodents known to antedate the first appearance of anomaluroids there. The evolution of gliding locomotion in Anomaluridae appears to conflict with traditional assessments of relationships among living anomalurid taxa. If the historically accepted division of Anomaluridae into Anomalurinae (extant and Miocene Anomalurus and Miocene Paranomalurus) and Zenkerellinae (extant and Miocene Zenkerella and extant Idiurus) is correct, then either gliding locomotion evolved independently in Anomalurinae and Idiurus or non-volant Zenkerella evolved from a gliding ancestor. Anatomical data related to gliding in Anomaluridae are more consistent with a nontraditional systematic arrangement, whereby non-volant Zenkerella is the sister group of a clade including both Anomalurus and Idiurus.

  10. Earth's early fossil record: Why not look for similar fossils on Mars?

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Awramik, Stanley M.

    1989-01-01

    The oldest evidence of life on Earth is discussed with attention being given to the structure and formation of stromatolites and microfossils. Fossilization of microbes in calcium carbonate or chert media is discussed. In searching for fossil remains on Mars, some lessons learned from the study of Earth's earliest fossil record can be applied. Certain sedimentary rock types and sedimentary rock configurations should be targeted for investigation and returned by the Martian rover and ultimately by human explorers. Domical, columnar to wavy laminated stratiform sedimentary rocks that resemble stromatolites should be actively sought. Limestone, other carbonates, and chert are the favored lithology. Being macroscopic, stromatolites might be recognized by an intelligent unmanned rover. In addition, black, waxy chert with conchoidal fracture should be sought. Chert is by far the preferred lithology for the preservation of microbes and chemical fossils. Even under optimal geological conditions (little or no metamorphism or tectonic alteration, excellent outcrops, and good black chert) and using experienced field biogeologists, the chances of finding well preserved microbial remains in chert are very low.

  11. The cambrian fossil record and the origin of the phyla.

    PubMed

    Budd, Graham E

    2003-02-01

    Whilst the "Cambrian Explosion" continues to attract much attention from a wide range of earth and life scientists, the detailed patterns exhibited by the terminal Proterozoic-Early Cambrian biotas remain unclear, for reasons of systematics, biostratigraphy and biogeography. In particular, recent changes in absolute dating of the Cambrian have refined the period of time that the fossil record might be of most help in revealing the dynamics of the undoubted radiation taking place at this time. The famous exceptionally preserved faunas seem to be rather close temporally, and as yet reveal little about the earliest and critical period of evolution, deep in the Cambrian. Nevertheless, the most parsimonious interpretation of the Cambrian fossil record is that it represents a broadly accurate temporal picture of the origins of the bilaterian phyla. PMID:21680420

  12. Evidence for GRB Induced Extinctions in the Fossil Record?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kaye, Thomas G.

    2004-09-01

    Particular problems in the fossil record are placed in context with a GRB event causing death by radiation exposure, followed by comet showers from a disruption in the Oort Cloud. The absence of pollen below the iridium layer at the KT and Triassic-Jurassic boundaries, the pattern of extinction on land and in the oceans and divergence times of molecular DNA studies may all have a common root in ionizing radiation.

  13. Exopaleontology and the search for a fossil record on Mars

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Farmer, Jack D.; Desmarais, D. J.

    1994-01-01

    Although present Martian surface conditions appear unfavorable for life as we know it, there is compelling geological evidence that the climate of early Mars was much more Earth-like, with a denser atmosphere and abundant surface water. The fact that life developed on the Earth within the first billion years of its history makes it quite plausible that life may have also developed on Mars. If life did develop on Mars, it is likely to have left behind a fossil record. This has led to the development of a new subdiscipline of paleontology, herein termed 'exopaleontology', which deals with the exploration for fossils on other planets. The most important factor enhancing microbial fossilization is the rapid entombment of microorganisms by fine-grained, stable mineral phases, such as silica, phosphate, or carbonate. The oldest body fossils on Earth are preserved in this way, occurring as permineralized cells in fine-grained siliceous sediments (cherts) associated with ancient volcanic terranes in Australia and South Africa. Modern terrestrial environments where minerals may precipitate in the presence of microorganisms include subaerial thermal springs and shallow hydrothermal systems, sub-lacustrine springs and evaporitic alkaline lakes, zones of mineralization within soils where 'hardpans' (e.g. calcretes, silcretes) form, and high latitude frozen soils or ground ice.

  14. An overview of the dinosaur fossil record from Chile

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rubilar-Rogers, David; Otero, Rodrigo A.; Yury-Yáñez, Roberto E.; Vargas, Alexander O.; Gutstein, Carolina S.

    2012-08-01

    In Chile, the record of dinosaurs in Jurassic and Cretaceous sediments is often restricted to footprints, with few skeletal remains. Tetanuran theropods are known in the Upper Jurassic, and bones of titanosaur sauropods in the Late Cretaceous, including partial skeletons (e.g. Atacamatitan chilensis Kellner et al.). Also from the late Cretaceous, an ornithopod vertebra, a pair of theropod teeth and one tarsometatarsus of a gaviiform bird (Neogaeornis wetzeli Lambrecht) have been reported. The Cenozoic fossil record comprises abundant and well-preserved marine birds from Eocene and Miocene units, with a specially abundant record of Sphenisciformes and less frequently, Procellariiformes. There is an excellent Miocene-Pliocene record of other birds such as Odontopterygiformes, including the most complete skeleton ever found of a pelagornithid, Pelagornis chilensis Mayr and Rubilar-Rogers. Fossil birds are also known from Pliocene and Pleistocene strata. A remarkable collection of birds was discovered in lacustrine sediments of late Pleistocene age associated to human activity. The perspectives in the study of dinosaurs in Chile are promising because plenty of material stored in institutional collections is not described yet. The record of Chilean dinosaurs is relevant for understanding the dynamics and evolution of this group of terrestrial animals in the western edge of Gondwana, while Cenozoic birds from the Region may contribute to the understanding of current biogeography for instance, the effect of the emergence and establishment of the Humboldt Current.

  15. The fossil record and macroevolutionary history of the beetles.

    PubMed

    Smith, Dena M; Marcot, Jonathan D

    2015-04-22

    Coleoptera (beetles) is the most species-rich metazoan order, with approximately 380 000 species. To understand how they came to be such a diverse group, we compile a database of global fossil beetle occurrences to study their macroevolutionary history. Our database includes 5553 beetle occurrences from 221 fossil localities. Amber and lacustrine deposits preserve most of the beetle diversity and abundance. All four extant suborders are found in the fossil record, with 69% of all beetle families and 63% of extant beetle families preserved. Considerable focus has been placed on beetle diversification overall, however, for much of their evolutionary history it is the clade Polyphaga that is most responsible for their taxonomic richness. Polyphaga had an increase in diversification rate in the Early Cretaceous, but instead of being due to the radiation of the angiosperms, this was probably due to the first occurrences of beetle-bearing amber deposits in the record. Perhaps, most significant is that polyphagan beetles had a family-level extinction rate of zero for most of their evolutionary history, including across the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary. Therefore, focusing on the factors that have inhibited beetle extinction, as opposed to solely studying mechanisms that may promote speciation, should be examined as important determinants of their great diversity today. PMID:25788597

  16. The hominin fossil record: taxa, grades and clades

    PubMed Central

    Wood, Bernard; Lonergan, Nicholas

    2008-01-01

    This paper begins by reviewing the fossil evidence for human evolution. It presents summaries of each of the taxa recognized in a relatively speciose hominin taxonomy. These taxa are grouped in grades, namely possible and probable hominins, archaic hominins, megadont archaic hominins, transitional hominins, pre-modern Homo and anatomically modern Homo. The second part of this contribution considers some of the controversies that surround hominin taxonomy and systematics. The first is the vexed question of how you tell an early hominin from an early panin, or from taxa belonging to an extinct clade closely related to the Pan-Homo clade. Secondly, we consider how many species should be recognized within the hominin fossil record, and review the philosophies and methods used to identify taxa within the hominin fossil record. Thirdly, we examine how relationships within the hominin clade are investigated, including descriptions of the methods used to break down an integrated structure into tractable analytical units, and then how cladograms are generated and compared. We then review the internal structure of the hominin clade, including the problem of how many subclades should be recognized within the hominin clade, and we examine the reliability of hominin cladistic hypotheses. The last part of the paper reviews the concepts of a genus, including the criteria that should be used for recognizing genera within the hominin clade. PMID:18380861

  17. The fossil record and macroevolutionary history of the beetles

    PubMed Central

    Smith, Dena M.; Marcot, Jonathan D.

    2015-01-01

    Coleoptera (beetles) is the most species-rich metazoan order, with approximately 380 000 species. To understand how they came to be such a diverse group, we compile a database of global fossil beetle occurrences to study their macroevolutionary history. Our database includes 5553 beetle occurrences from 221 fossil localities. Amber and lacustrine deposits preserve most of the beetle diversity and abundance. All four extant suborders are found in the fossil record, with 69% of all beetle families and 63% of extant beetle families preserved. Considerable focus has been placed on beetle diversification overall, however, for much of their evolutionary history it is the clade Polyphaga that is most responsible for their taxonomic richness. Polyphaga had an increase in diversification rate in the Early Cretaceous, but instead of being due to the radiation of the angiosperms, this was probably due to the first occurrences of beetle-bearing amber deposits in the record. Perhaps, most significant is that polyphagan beetles had a family-level extinction rate of zero for most of their evolutionary history, including across the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary. Therefore, focusing on the factors that have inhibited beetle extinction, as opposed to solely studying mechanisms that may promote speciation, should be examined as important determinants of their great diversity today. PMID:25788597

  18. The Quality of the Fossil Record: Populations, Species, and Communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kidwell, Susan M.; Flessa, Karl W.

    Paleontologists have always been concerned about the documentary quality of the fossil record, and this has also become an important issue for biologists, who increasingly look to accumulations of bones, shells, and plant material as possible ways to extend the time-frame of observation on species and community behaviors. Quantitative data on the postmortem behavior of organic remains in modern environments are providing new insights into death and fossil assemblages as sources of biological information. Important findings include: 1. With the exception of a few circumstances, usually recognizable by independent criteria, transport out of the original life habitat affects few individuals. 2. Most species with preservable hard-parts are in fact represented in the local death assemblage, commonly in correct rank importance. Molluscs are the most durable of modern aquatic groups studied so far, and they show highest fidelity to the original community. 3. Time-averaging of remains from successive generations and communities often prevents the detection of short term (seasons, years) variability but provides an excellent record of the natural range of community composition and structure over longer periods. Thus, although a complex array of processes and circumstances influences preservation, death assemblages of resistant skeletal elements are for many major groups good to excellent records of community composition, morphological variation, and environmental and geographic distribution of species, and such assemblages can record dynamics at ecologically and evolutionarily meaningful scales.

  19. Integration of Bayesian molecular clock methods and fossil-based soft bounds reveals early Cenozoic origin of African lacertid lizards

    PubMed Central

    Hipsley, Christy A; Himmelmann, Lin; Metzler, Dirk; Müller, Johannes

    2009-01-01

    Background Although current molecular clock methods offer greater flexibility in modelling evolutionary events, calibration of the clock with dates from the fossil record is still problematic for many groups. Here we implement several new approaches in molecular dating to estimate the evolutionary ages of Lacertidae, an Old World family of lizards with a poor fossil record and uncertain phylogeny. Four different models of rate variation are tested in a new program for Bayesian phylogenetic analysis called TreeTime, based on a combination of mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences. We incorporate paleontological uncertainty into divergence estimates by expressing multiple calibration dates as a range of probabilistic distributions. We also test the reliability of our proposed calibrations by exploring effects of individual priors on posterior estimates. Results According to the most reliable model, as indicated by Bayes factor comparison, modern lacertids arose shortly after the K/T transition and entered Africa about 45 million years ago, with the majority of their African radiation occurring in the Eocene and Oligocene. Our findings indicate much earlier origins for these clades than previously reported, and we discuss our results in light of paleogeographic trends during the Cenozoic. Conclusion This study represents the first attempt to estimate evolutionary ages of a specific group of reptiles exhibiting uncertain phylogenetic relationships, molecular rate variation and a poor fossil record. Our results emphasize the sensitivity of molecular divergence dates to fossil calibrations, and support the use of combined molecular data sets and multiple, well-spaced dates from the fossil record as minimum node constraints. The bioinformatics program used here, TreeTime, is publicly available, and we recommend its use for molecular dating of taxa faced with similar challenges. PMID:19570207

  20. Disentangling rock record bias and common-cause from redundancy in the British fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Dunhill, Alexander M.; Hannisdal, Bjarte; Benton, Michael J.

    2014-01-01

    The fossil record documents the history of life, but the reliability of that record has often been questioned. Spatiotemporal variability in sedimentary rock volume, sampling and research effort especially frustrates global-scale diversity reconstructions. Various proposals have been made to rectify palaeodiversity estimates using proxy measures for the availability and sampling of the rock record, but the validity of these approaches remains controversial. Targeting the rich fossil record of Great Britain as a highly detailed regional exemplar, our statistical analysis shows that marine outcrop area contains a signal useful for predicting changes in diversity, collections and formations, whereas terrestrial outcrop area contains a signal useful for predicting formations. In contrast, collection and formation counts are information redundant with fossil richness, characterized by symmetric, bidirectional information flow. If this is true, the widespread use of collection and formation counts as sampling proxies to correct the raw palaeodiversity data may be unwarranted. PMID:25187994

  1. At the origin of animals: the revolutionary cambrian fossil record.

    PubMed

    Budd, Graham E

    2013-09-01

    The certain fossil record of animals begins around 540 million years ago, close to the base of the Cambrian Period. A series of extraordinary discoveries starting over 100 years ago with Walcott's discovery of the Burgess Shale has accelerated in the last thirty years or so with the description of exceptionally-preserved Cambrian fossils from around the world. Such deposits of "Burgess Shale Type" have been recently complemented by other types of exceptional preservation. Together with a remarkable growth in knowledge about the environments that these early animals lived in, these discoveries have long exerted a fascination and strong influence on views on the origins of animals, and indeed, the nature of evolution itself. Attention is now shifting to the period of time just before animals become common, at the base of the Cambrian and in the preceding Ediacaran Period. Remarkable though the Burgess Shale deposits have been, a substantial gap still exists in our knowledge of the earliest animals. Nevertheless, the fossils from this most remarkable period of evolutionary history continue to exert a strong influence on many aspects of animal evolution, not least recent theories about developmental evolution. PMID:24396267

  2. At the Origin of Animals: The Revolutionary Cambrian Fossil Record

    PubMed Central

    Budd, Graham E

    2013-01-01

    The certain fossil record of animals begins around 540 million years ago, close to the base of the Cambrian Period. A series of extraordinary discoveries starting over 100 years ago with Walcott’s discovery of the Burgess Shale has accelerated in the last thirty years or so with the description of exceptionally-preserved Cambrian fossils from around the world. Such deposits of “Burgess Shale Type” have been recently complemented by other types of exceptional preservation. Together with a remarkable growth in knowledge about the environments that these early animals lived in, these discoveries have long exerted a fascination and strong influence on views on the origins of animals, and indeed, the nature of evolution itself. Attention is now shifting to the period of time just before animals become common, at the base of the Cambrian and in the preceding Ediacaran Period. Remarkable though the Burgess Shale deposits have been, a substantial gap still exists in our knowledge of the earliest animals. Nevertheless, the fossils from this most remarkable period of evolutionary history continue to exert a strong influence on many aspects of animal evolution, not least recent theories about developmental evolution. PMID:24396267

  3. Delayed biological recovery from extinctions throughout the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Kirchner, J W; Weil, A

    2000-03-01

    How quickly does biodiversity rebound after extinctions? Palaeobiologists have examined the temporal, taxonomic and geographic patterns of recovery following individual mass extinctions in detail, but have not analysed recoveries from extinctions throughout the fossil record as a whole. Here, we measure how fast biodiversity rebounds after extinctions in general, rather than after individual mass extinctions, by calculating the cross-correlation between extinction and origination rates across the entire Phanerozoic marine fossil record. Our results show that extinction rates are not significantly correlated with contemporaneous origination rates, but instead are correlated with origination rates roughly 10 million years later. This lagged correlation persists when we remove the 'Big Five' major mass extinctions, indicating that recovery times following mass extinctions and background extinctions are similar. Our results suggest that there are intrinsic limits to how quickly global biodiversity can recover after extinction events, regardless of their magnitude. They also imply that today's anthropogenic extinctions will diminish biodiversity for millions of years to come. PMID:10724168

  4. Patterns of generic extinction in the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Raup, D. M.; Boyajian, G. E.

    1988-01-01

    Analysis of the stratigraphic records of 19,897 fossil genera indicates that most classes and orders show largely congruent rises and falls in extinction intensity throughout the Phanerozoic. Even an ecologically homogeneous sample of reef genera shows the same basic extinction profile. The most likely explanation for the congruence is that extinction is physically rather than biologically driven and that it is dominated by the effects of geographically widespread environmental perturbations influencing most habitats. Significant departures from the congruence are uncommon but important because they indicate physiological or habitat selectivity. The similarity of the extinction records of reef organisms and the marine biota as a whole confirms that reefs and other faunas are responding to the same history of environmental stress.

  5. The fossil record of evolution: Data on diversification and extinction

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sepkoski, J. J., Jr.

    1991-01-01

    Understanding of the evolution of complex life, and of the roles that changing terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments played in life's history, is dependent upon synthetic knowledge of the fossil record. Paleontologists have been describing fossils for more that two centuries. However, much of this information is dispersed in monographs and journal articles published throughout the world. Over the past several years, this literature was surveyed, and a data base on times of origination and extinction of fossil genera was compiled. The data base, which now holds approximately 32,000 genera, covers all taxonomic groups of marine animals, incorporates the most recent taxonomic assignments, and uses a detailed global time framework that can resolve originations and extinctions to intervals averaging three million years in duration. These data can be used to compile patterns of global biodiversity, measure rates of taxic evolution, and test hypotheses concerning adaptive radiations, mass extinctions, etc. Thus far, considerable effort was devoted to using the data to test the hypothesis of periodicity of mass extinction. Rates of extinction measured from the data base have also been used to calibrate models of evolutionary radiations in marine environments. It was observed that new groups, or clades of animals (i.e., orders and classes) tend to reach appreciable diversity first in nearshore environments and then to radiate in more offshore environments; during decline, these clades may disappear from the nearshore while persisting in offshore, deep water habitats. These observations have led to suggestions that there is something special about stressful or perturbed environments that promotes the evolution of novel kinds of animals that can rapidly replace their predecessors. The numerical model that is being investigated to study this phenomenon treats environments along onshore-offshore gradients as if they were discrete habitats. Other aspects of this investigation are presented.

  6. The fossil record of evolution: Data on diversification and extinction

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sepkoski, J. J., Jr.

    1986-01-01

    Synoptic studies of the fossil record of complex life on Earth indicate increasingly that extinction, and especially mass extinction, were extremely important driving forces in the history of life. Analysis of a new compilation of geologic ranges for 25,000 genera of marine animals suggests that extinction events were much more frequent in occurrence and variable in magnitude than previously suspected. At least 30 well documented and potential mass extinctions were identified in the dataset. The most recent event, distributed over 260 to 0 ma. exhibit a stationary periodicity of 26.1 + or - 1 ma, implicating a cosmological forcing mechanism. Earlier events, especially in the 575 to 450 ma interval, are more frequent, possibly indicating either a breakdown of periodicity in the more distant past; and as yet undemonstrated diminution of the period length; or frequent aperiodic terrestrial perturbations of a less stable biota superimposed upon the cosmological periodicity.

  7. New Biogeographic insight into Bauhinia s.l. (Leguminosae): integration from fossil records and molecular analyses

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background Given that most species that have ever existed on earth are extinct, it stands to reason that the evolutionary history can be better understood with fossil taxa. Bauhinia is a typical genus of pantropical intercontinental disjunction among the Asian, African, and American continents. Geographic distribution patterns are better recognized when fossil records and molecular sequences are combined in the analyses. Here, we describe a new macrofossil species of Bauhinia from the Upper Miocene Xiaolongtan Formation in Wenshan County, Southeast Yunnan, China, and elucidate the biogeographic significance through the analyses of molecules and fossils. Results Morphometric analysis demonstrates that the leaf shapes of B. acuminata, B. championii, B. chalcophylla, B. purpurea, and B. podopetala closely resemble the leaf shapes of the new finding fossil. Phylogenetic relationships among the Bauhinia species were reconstructed using maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference, which inferred that species in Bauhinia species are well-resolved into three main groups. Divergence times were estimated by the Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method under a relaxed clock, and inferred that the stem diversification time of Bauhinia was ca. 62.7 Ma. The Asian lineage first diverged at ca. 59.8 Ma, followed by divergence of the Africa lineage starting during the late Eocene, whereas that of the neotropical lineage starting during the middle Miocene. Conclusions Hypotheses relying on vicariance or continental history to explain pantropical disjunct distributions are dismissed because they require mostly Palaeogene and older tectonic events. We suggest that Bauhinia originated in the middle Paleocene in Laurasia, probably in Asia, implying a possible Tethys Seaway origin or an “Out of Tropical Asia”, and dispersal of legumes. Its present pantropical disjunction resulted from disruption of the boreotropical flora by climatic cooling after the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). North Atlantic land bridges (NALB) seem the most plausible route for migration of Bauhinia from Asia to America; and additional aspects of the Bauhinia species distribution are explained by migration and long distance dispersal (LDD) from Eurasia to the African and American continents. PMID:25288346

  8. NGST: Exploring the Fossil Record of Galaxy Formation

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rich, R. Michael

    1998-01-01

    During this grant period the investigator has accomplished the following: developed and researched the science case for high resolution optical imaging with NGST (Next Generation Space Telescope); presented to the ASWG (Ad-Hoc Science Working Group) on the use of NGST to image and measure the proper motions of white dwarf stars that could account for the MACHO events toward the LMC (Large Magellanic Cloud); wrote proposals for the Design Reference Mission. Three proposals have been written on the following topics: Measuring the faint end of the white dwarf luminosity function to get an independent measure of the age of the oldest stars, measurement of the stellar luminosity function over the full range of age, abundance, and population type, and deep imaging of Local Group halos to measure the relative ages of the oldest stars in the Milky Way and other galaxies; he has introduced simulations of crowded field stellar photometry on a hypothetical population in the M31 halo. Using a physically correct luminosity function and a surface brightness of 24.5 mag/sq. arcsec, NGST imaging in 10 hours easily measures the turnoff and reaches 3 mags down the main sequence in the halo of M31; and has delivered talks at the NGST workshop in Liege, and at the meeting in Paris entitled "Connecting the Distant Universe with the Local Fossil Record".

  9. Testing homogeneity with the fossil record of galaxies

    SciTech Connect

    Heavens, Alan F.; Jimenez, Raul; Maartens, Roy E-mail: raul.jimenez@icc.ub.edu

    2011-09-01

    The standard Friedmann model of cosmology is based on the Copernican Principle, i.e. the assumption of a homogeneous background on which structure forms via perturbations. Homogeneity underpins both general relativistic and modified gravity models and is central to the way in which we interpret observations of the CMB and the galaxy distribution. It is therefore important to probe homogeneity via observations. We describe a test based on the fossil record of distant galaxies: if we can reconstruct key intrinsic properties of galaxies as functions of proper time along their worldlines, we can compare such properties at the same proper time for our galaxy and others. We achieve this by computing the lookback time using radial Baryon Acoustic Oscillations, and the time along galaxy world line using stellar physics, allowing us to probe homogeneity, in principle anywhere inside the past light cone. Agreement in the results would be an important consistency test — although it would not in itself prove homogeneity. Any significant deviation in the results however would signal a breakdown of homogeneity.

  10. Micritic Peloids: Fossil Record of Biofilms Associated With Methane Seeps

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shapiro, R. S.

    2006-12-01

    Biofilms of archaea and bacteria are found where reduced hydrocarbons seep upward to the seafloor. The process of oxidizing the methane coupled with the reduction of seawater sulfate increases the alkalinity in the localized area and promotes the precipitation of carbonate minerals. The biofilms and carbonate deposits are ubiquitous in the modern oceans and the geologic record of hydrocarbon seeps goes back well into the Paleozoic. However, the paleontologic record of the microbes responsible for the production of the carbonates is poorly constrained. The few examples comprise casts and molds of filaments and cocci, framboidal pyrite of assumed biological affinity, organic biomarkers (lipids, hopanoids), and microbialite. Volumetrically, these fossils are insignificant compared with the total bulk of seep carbonate. Research into Mesozoic and Cenozoic seep carbonates from California, Oregon, Colorado, and South Dakota has yielded a new recognition for ancient biofilms. Micritethe most common lithotype of seeps globallyexists as both peloids and groundmass. Common peloids of micrite average 0.5 mm in diameter (range from 0.1 to 0.7 mm), incorporate some siliciclastic material, and have distinct margins. Opaque minerals, likely sulfides, occur throughout the peloids. The matrix surrounding the peloids is a similar micrite, though in some samples, the peloids are surrounded by cement. Diagenesis leads to blurring of the peloid margins until a homogenous micrite groundmass with scattered sulfide and siliciclastic grains results. Use of a white card helps to outline original peloids. Increased levels of diagenesis can lead to crystal coarsening and obliterate original textures. These peloids are likely fecal pellets. A second population of peloids occur that are smaller (0.05 to 0.10 mm), darker in color, and with more diffuse boundaries. There are generally no siliciclastic grains intermixed with these peloids. These peloids occur in millimeter-scale clusters and are cemented by calcite, indicating an original open porosity. The distinct pelsparite is often retained through diagenesis either as peloids or as diffuse dark micrite and is typically found at the margins of primary fabrics, where secondary crystal fans or botryoids nucleate. Where multiple generations of cement formed, the peloid area is distorted and forms a dark mantle between cements. These smaller peloids are thought to record degraded fragments of biofilms. ?13C isotopic analysis shows a depleted ratio, but indistinguishable from other primary fabrics. By differentiating micrite of fecal pellet origin from biofilm degredation, it will be feasible to quantify the amount of carbonate produced by each pathway, even with moderate diagenesis.

  11. Fossil hominin shoulders support an African ape-like last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.

    PubMed

    Young, Nathan M; Capellini, Terence D; Roach, Neil T; Alemseged, Zeresenay

    2015-09-22

    Reconstructing the behavioral shifts that drove hominin evolution requires knowledge of the timing, magnitude, and direction of anatomical changes over the past ∼6-7 million years. These reconstructions depend on assumptions regarding the morphotype of the Homo-Pan last common ancestor (LCA). However, there is little consensus for the LCA, with proposed models ranging from African ape to orangutan or generalized Miocene ape-like. The ancestral state of the shoulder is of particular interest because it is functionally associated with important behavioral shifts in hominins, such as reduced arboreality, high-speed throwing, and tool use. However, previous morphometric analyses of both living and fossil taxa have yielded contradictory results. Here, we generated a 3D morphospace of ape and human scapular shape to plot evolutionary trajectories, predict ancestral morphologies, and directly test alternative evolutionary hypotheses using the hominin fossil evidence. We show that the most parsimonious model for the evolution of hominin shoulder shape starts with an African ape-like ancestral state. We propose that the shoulder evolved gradually along a single morphocline, achieving modern human-like configuration and function within the genus Homo. These data are consistent with a slow, progressive loss of arboreality and increased tool use throughout human evolution. PMID:26351685

  12. Fossil hominin shoulders support an African ape-like last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees

    PubMed Central

    Young, Nathan M.; Capellini, Terence D.; Roach, Neil T.; Alemseged, Zeresenay

    2015-01-01

    Reconstructing the behavioral shifts that drove hominin evolution requires knowledge of the timing, magnitude, and direction of anatomical changes over the past ∼6–7 million years. These reconstructions depend on assumptions regarding the morphotype of the Homo–Pan last common ancestor (LCA). However, there is little consensus for the LCA, with proposed models ranging from African ape to orangutan or generalized Miocene ape-like. The ancestral state of the shoulder is of particular interest because it is functionally associated with important behavioral shifts in hominins, such as reduced arboreality, high-speed throwing, and tool use. However, previous morphometric analyses of both living and fossil taxa have yielded contradictory results. Here, we generated a 3D morphospace of ape and human scapular shape to plot evolutionary trajectories, predict ancestral morphologies, and directly test alternative evolutionary hypotheses using the hominin fossil evidence. We show that the most parsimonious model for the evolution of hominin shoulder shape starts with an African ape-like ancestral state. We propose that the shoulder evolved gradually along a single morphocline, achieving modern human-like configuration and function within the genus Homo. These data are consistent with a slow, progressive loss of arboreality and increased tool use throughout human evolution. PMID:26351685

  13. 'Citizen science' recording of fossils by adapting existing computer-based biodiversity recording tools

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McGowan, Alistair

    2014-05-01

    Biodiversity recording activities have been greatly enhanced by the emergence of online schemes and smartphone applications for recording and sharing data about a wide variety of flora and fauna. As a palaeobiologist, one of the areas of research I have been heavily involved in is the question of whether the amount of rock available to sample acts as a bias on our estimates of biodiversity through time. Although great progress has been made on this question over the past ten years by a number of researchers, I still think palaeontology has not followed the lead offered by the 'citizen science' revolution in studies of extant biodiversity. By constructing clearly structured surveys with online data collection support, it should be possible to collect field data on the occurrence of fossils at the scale of individual exposures, which are needed to test competing hypotheses about these effects at relatively small spatial scales. Such data collection would be hard to justify for universities and museums with limited personnel but a co-ordinated citizen science programme would be capable of delivering such a programme. Data collection could be based on the MacKinnon's Lists method, used in rapid conservation assessment work. It relies on observers collecting lists of a fixed length (e.g. 10 species long) but what is important is that it focuses on getting observers to ignore sightings of the same species until that list is complete. This overcomes the problem of 'common taxa being commonly recorded' and encourages observers to seek out and identify the rarer taxa. This gives a targeted but finite task. Rather than removing fossils, participants would be encouraged to take photographs to share via a recording website. The success of iSpot, which allows users to upload photos of plants and animals for other users to help with identifications, offers a model for overcoming the problems of identifying fossils, which can often look nothing like the examples illustrated in guidebooks. The requirements for a web platform could be met by the use of the freely-available Indicia software developed by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology for biodiversity recording. However, some trials with the software have found it would be suitable for recording fossil occurrences as well. The software allows users to plot collections on maps, upload and share photographs and make identifications of material. Within the UK, the British Geological Survey has made geological map data available via the iGeology smartphone app and the Geology of Britain website. Thus it is now possible for people with access to smartphones or the internet to know which geological units they are sampling from, which would previously have been difficult without access to paper copies of geological maps. Such a programme could make a significant contribution towards reviving palaeontology and geology as field-based natural history and create wider interest in basic geological and taxonomic skills and form the basis for work on geodiversity recording and exploring links between geodiversity and biodiversity.

  14. Fossil Lipids for Life-Detection: A Case Study from the Early Earth Record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Eigenbrode, Jennifer L.

    The geological preservation of lipids from the cell membranes of organisms bestows a precious record of ancient life, especially for the Precambrian eon (>542 million years ago) when Earth life was largely microbial. All organisms produce lipids that, if the lipids survive oxidative degradation, become molecular fossils entrained with information on biological diversity, environmental conditions, and post-depositional alteration history. As with most biosignatures, the molecular fossil record that is indigenous (of the same place) and syngenetic (of the same age) to host rocks can be compromised by the introduction from and reaction with foreign or younger materials (e.g., petroleum or endolithic life). Deciphering the resulting complex pool of organic signals requires tests for the provenance of molecular fossils and the overall quality of the geobiological record itself. This paper reviews the basis for the very existence of a molecular fossil record from lipid biochemistry to mechanisms of organic-matter preservation and geochemical alteration. A systematic approach to resolving the provenance of molecular fossils and historical qualities of the record is presented in a case study of an early Earth record. This example demonstrates the value of geological context and the integration of independent geobiological parameters, which are critical to the detection and understanding of the ecological processes responsible for records of life.

  15. Fossil Lipids for Life-Detection: A Case Study from the Early Earth Record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Eigenbrode, Jennifer L.

    2008-03-01

    The geological preservation of lipids from the cell membranes of organisms bestows a precious record of ancient life, especially for the Precambrian eon (>542 million years ago) when Earth life was largely microbial. All organisms produce lipids that, if the lipids survive oxidative degradation, become molecular fossils entrained with information on biological diversity, environmental conditions, and post-depositional alteration history. As with most biosignatures, the molecular fossil record that is indigenous (of the same place) and syngenetic (of the same age) to host rocks can be compromised by the introduction from and reaction with foreign or younger materials (e.g., petroleum or endolithic life). Deciphering the resulting complex pool of organic signals requires tests for the provenance of molecular fossils and the overall quality of the geobiological record itself. This paper reviews the basis for the very existence of a molecular fossil record from lipid biochemistry to mechanisms of organic-matter preservation and geochemical alteration. A systematic approach to resolving the provenance of molecular fossils and historical qualities of the record is presented in a case study of an early Earth record. This example demonstrates the value of geological context and the integration of independent geobiological parameters, which are critical to the detection and understanding of the ecological processes responsible for records of life.

  16. Fossil Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) as quantitative indicators of past salinity in African lakes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Eggermont, Hilde; Heiri, Oliver; Verschuren, Dirk

    2006-08-01

    We surveyed sub-fossil chironomid assemblages in surface sediments of 73 low- to mid-elevation lakes in tropical East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia) to develop inference models for quantitative paleosalinity reconstruction. Using a calibration data set of 67 lakes with surface-water conductivity between 34 and 68,800 μS/cm, trial models based on partial least squares (PLS), weighted-averaging (WA), weighted-averaging partial least squares (WA-PLS), maximum likelihood (ML), and the weighted modern analogue technique (WMAT) produced jack-knifed coefficients of determination ( r2) between 0.83 and 0.87, and root-mean-squared errors of prediction (RMSEP) between 0.27 and 0.31 log 10 conductivity units, values indicating that fossil assemblages of African Chironomidae can be valuable indicators of past salinity change. The new inference models improve on previous models, which were calibrated with presence-absence data from live collections, by the much greater information content of the calibration data set, and greater probability of finding good modern analogues for fossil assemblages. However, inferences still suffered to a greater (WA, WMAT) or lesser (WA-PLS, PLS and ML) extent from weak correlation between chironomid species distribution and salinity in a broad range of fresh waters, and apparent threshold response of African chironomid communities to salinity change near 3000 μS/cm. To improve model sensitivity in freshwater lakes we expanded the calibration data set with 11 dilute (6-61 μS/cm) high-elevation lakes on Mt. Kenya (Kenya) and the Ruwenzori Mts. (Uganda). This did not appreciably improve models' error statistics, in part because it introduced a secondary environmental gradient to the faunal data, probably temperature. To evaluate whether a chironomid-based salinity inference model calibrated in East African lakes could be meaningfully used for environmental reconstruction elsewhere on the continent, we expanded the calibration data set with 8 fresh (15-168 μS/cm) lakes in Cameroon, West Africa, and one hypersaline desert lake in Chad. This experiment yielded poorer error statistics, primarily because the need to amalgamate East and West African sister taxa reduced overall taxonomic resolution and increased the mean tolerance range of retained taxa. However, the merged data set constrained better the salinity optimum of several freshwater taxa, and further increased the probability of finding good modern analogues. We then used chironomid stratigraphic data and independent proxy reconstructions from two fluctuating lakes in Kenya to compare the performance of new and previous African salinity-inference models. This analysis revealed significant differences between the various numerical techniques in reconstructed salinity trends through time, due to their different sensitivity to the presence or relative abundance of certain key taxa, combined with the above-mentioned threshold faunal response to salinity change. Simple WA and WMAT produced ecologically sensible reconstructions because their step-like change in inferred conductivity near 3000 μS/cm mirrors the relatively rapid transitions between fresh and saline lake phases associated with climate-driven lake-level change in shallow tropical closed-basin lakes. Statistical camouflaging of this threshold faunal response in WA-PLS and ML models resulted in less trustworthy reconstructions of past salinity in lakes crossing the freshwater-saline boundary. We conclude that selection of a particular inference model should not only be based on statistical performance measures, but consider chironomid community ecology in the study region, and the amplitude of reconstructed environmental change relative to the modern environmental gradient represented in the calibration data set.

  17. Contemporaneous Trace and Body Fossils from a Late Pleistocene Lakebed in Victoria, Australia, Allow Assessment of Bias in the Fossil Record

    PubMed Central

    Camens, Aaron Bruce; Carey, Stephen Paul

    2013-01-01

    The co-occurrence of vertebrate trace and body fossils within a single geological formation is rare and the probability of these parallel records being contemporaneous (i.e. on or near the same bedding plane) is extremely low. We report here a late Pleistocene locality from the Victorian Volcanic Plains in south-eastern Australia in which demonstrably contemporaneous, but independently accumulated vertebrate trace and body fossils occur. Bite marks from a variety of taxa are also present on the bones. This site provides a unique opportunity to examine the biases of these divergent fossil records (skeletal, footprints and bite marks) that sampled a single fauna. The skeletal record produced the most complete fauna, with the footprint record indicating a markedly different faunal composition with less diversity and the feeding traces suggesting the presence, amongst others, of a predator not represented by either the skeletal or footprint records. We found that the large extinct marsupial predator Thylacoleo was the only taxon apparently represented by all three records, suggesting that the behavioral characteristics of large carnivores may increase the likelihood of their presence being detected within a fossil fauna. In contrast, Diprotodon (the largest-ever marsupial) was represented only by trace fossils at this site and was absent from the site's skeletal record, despite its being a common and easily detected presence in late Pleistocene skeletal fossil faunas elsewhere in Australia. Small mammals absent from the footprint record for the site were represented by skeletal fossils and bite marks on bones. PMID:23301008

  18. Crustaceans from bitumen clast in Carboniferous glacial diamictite extend fossil record of copepods.

    PubMed

    Selden, Paul A; Huys, Rony; Stephenson, Michael H; Heward, Alan P; Taylor, Paul N

    2010-01-01

    Copepod crustaceans are extremely abundant but, because of their small size and fragility, they fossilize poorly. Their fossil record consists of one Cretaceous (c. 115 Ma) parasite and a few Miocene (c. 14 Ma) fossils. In this paper, we describe abundant crustacean fragments, including copepods, from a single bitumen clast in a glacial diamictite of late Carboniferous age (c. 303 Ma) from eastern Oman. Geochemistry identifies the source of the bitumen as an oilfield some 100-300 km to the southwest, which is consistent with an ice flow direction from glacial striae. The bitumen likely originated as an oil seep into a subglacial lake. This find extends the fossil record of copepods by some 188 Ma, and of free-living forms by 289 Ma. The copepods include evidence of the extant family Canthocamptidae, believed to have colonized fresh water in Pangaea during Carboniferous times. PMID:20975721

  19. The fossil record of ecdysis, and trends in the moulting behaviour of trilobites.

    PubMed

    Daley, Allison C; Drage, Harriet B

    2016-03-01

    Ecdysis, the process of moulting an exoskeleton, is one of the key characters uniting arthropods, nematodes and a number of smaller phyla into Ecdysozoa. The arthropod fossil record, particularly trilobites, eurypterids and decapod crustaceans, yields information on moulting, although the current focus is predominantly descriptive and lacks a broader evolutionary perspective. We here review literature on the fossil record of ecdysis, synthesising research on the behaviour, evolutionary trends, and phylogenetic significance of moulting throughout the Phanerozoic. Approaches vary widely between taxonomic groups, but an overall theme uniting these works suggests that identifying moults in the palaeontological record must take into account the morphology, taphonomy and depositional environment of fossils. We also quantitatively analyse trends in trilobite ecdysis based on a newly generated database of published incidences of moulting behaviour. This preliminary work reveals significant taxonomic and temporal signal in the trilobite moulting fossil record, with free cheek moulting being prevalent across all Orders and throughout the Phanerozoic, and peaks of cephalic moulting in Phacopida during the Ordovician and rostral plate moulting in Redlichiida during the Cambrian. This study and a review of the literature suggest that it is feasible to extract large-scale evolutionary information from the fossil record of moulting. PMID:26431634

  20. Assessing the fidelity of the fossil record by using marine bivalves

    PubMed Central

    Valentine, James W.; Jablonski, David; Kidwell, Susan; Roy, Kaustuv

    2006-01-01

    Taxa that fail to become incorporated into the fossil record can reveal much about the biases of this record and provide the information needed to correct such biases in empirical analyses of the history of life. Yet little is known about the characteristics of taxa missing from the fossil record. For the marine Bivalvia, which have become a model system for macroevolutionary and macroecological analysis in the fossil record, 308 of the 1,292 living genera and subgenera (herein termed “taxa”) are not recorded as fossils. These missing taxa are not a random sample of the clade, but instead tend to have small body size, reactive shell structures, commensal or parasitic habit, deep-sea distribution, narrow geographic range, restriction to regions exposing few Neogene marine sediments, or recent date of formal taxonomic description in the neontological literature. Most missing taxa show two or more of these features and tend to be concentrated in particular families. When we exclude the smallest taxa (<1 cm) and deep-sea endemics, date of published description and geographic range become the strongest predictors of the missing taxa; other factors are statistically insignificant or have relatively small effects. These biases might influence a variety of analyses including the use of fossil data in support of phylogenetic analyses, molecular clock calibrations, and analyses of spatial and temporal dynamics of clades and biotas. Clade inventories such as these can be used to develop protocols that minimize the biases imposed by sampling and preservation. PMID:16617108

  1. Discriminating signal from noise in the fossil record of early vertebrates reveals cryptic evolutionary history

    PubMed Central

    Sansom, Robert S.; Randle, Emma; Donoghue, Philip C. J.

    2015-01-01

    The fossil record of early vertebrates has been influential in elucidating the evolutionary assembly of the gnathostome bodyplan. Understanding of the timing and tempo of vertebrate innovations remains, however, mired in a literal reading of the fossil record. Early jawless vertebrates (ostracoderms) exhibit restriction to shallow-water environments. The distribution of their stratigraphic occurrences therefore reflects not only flux in diversity, but also secular variation in facies representation of the rock record. Using stratigraphic, phylogenetic and palaeoenvironmental data, we assessed the veracity of the fossil records of the jawless relatives of jawed vertebrates (Osteostraci, Galeaspida, Thelodonti, Heterostraci). Non-random models of fossil recovery potential using Palaeozoic sea-level changes were used to calculate confidence intervals of clade origins. These intervals extend the timescale for possible origins into the Upper Ordovician; these estimates ameliorate the long ghost lineages inferred for Osteostraci, Galeaspida and Heterostraci, given their known stratigraphic occurrences and stem–gnathostome phylogeny. Diversity changes through the Silurian and Devonian were found to lie within the expected limits predicted from estimates of fossil record quality indicating that it is geological, rather than biological factors, that are responsible for shifts in diversity. Environmental restriction also appears to belie ostracoderm extinction and demise rather than competition with jawed vertebrates. PMID:25520359

  2. Assessing the fidelity of the fossil record by using marine bivalves.

    PubMed

    Valentine, James W; Jablonski, David; Kidwell, Susan; Roy, Kaustuv

    2006-04-25

    Taxa that fail to become incorporated into the fossil record can reveal much about the biases of this record and provide the information needed to correct such biases in empirical analyses of the history of life. Yet little is known about the characteristics of taxa missing from the fossil record. For the marine Bivalvia, which have become a model system for macroevolutionary and macroecological analysis in the fossil record, 308 of the 1,292 living genera and subgenera (herein termed "taxa") are not recorded as fossils. These missing taxa are not a random sample of the clade, but instead tend to have small body size, reactive shell structures, commensal or parasitic habit, deep-sea distribution, narrow geographic range, restriction to regions exposing few Neogene marine sediments, or recent date of formal taxonomic description in the neontological literature. Most missing taxa show two or more of these features and tend to be concentrated in particular families. When we exclude the smallest taxa (<1 cm) and deep-sea endemics, date of published description and geographic range become the strongest predictors of the missing taxa; other factors are statistically insignificant or have relatively small effects. These biases might influence a variety of analyses including the use of fossil data in support of phylogenetic analyses, molecular clock calibrations, and analyses of spatial and temporal dynamics of clades and biotas. Clade inventories such as these can be used to develop protocols that minimize the biases imposed by sampling and preservation. PMID:16617108

  3. Methods for the quantitative comparison of molecular estimates of clade age and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Clarke, Julia A; Boyd, Clint A

    2015-01-01

    Approaches quantifying the relative congruence, or incongruence, of molecular divergence estimates and the fossil record have been limited. Previously proposed methods are largely node specific, assessing incongruence at particular nodes for which both fossil data and molecular divergence estimates are available. These existing metrics, and other methods that quantify incongruence across topologies including entirely extinct clades, have so far not taken into account uncertainty surrounding both the divergence estimates and the ages of fossils. They have also treated molecular divergence estimates younger than previously assessed fossil minimum estimates of clade age as if they were the same as cases in which they were older. However, these cases are not the same. Recovered divergence dates younger than compared oldest known occurrences require prior hypotheses regarding the phylogenetic position of the compared fossil record and standard assumptions about the relative timing of morphological and molecular change to be incorrect. Older molecular dates, by contrast, are consistent with an incomplete fossil record and do not require prior assessments of the fossil record to be unreliable in some way. Here, we compare previous approaches and introduce two new descriptive metrics. Both metrics explicitly incorporate information on uncertainty by utilizing the 95% confidence intervals on estimated divergence dates and data on stratigraphic uncertainty concerning the age of the compared fossils. Metric scores are maximized when these ranges are overlapping. MDI (minimum divergence incongruence) discriminates between situations where molecular estimates are younger or older than known fossils reporting both absolute fit values and a number score for incompatible nodes. DIG range (divergence implied gap range) allows quantification of the minimum increase in implied missing fossil record induced by enforcing a given set of molecular-based estimates. These metrics are used together to describe the relationship between time trees and a set of fossil data, which we recommend be phylogenetically vetted and referred on the basis of apomorphy. Differences from previously proposed metrics and the utility of MDI and DIG range are illustrated in three empirical case studies from angiosperms, ostracods, and birds. These case studies also illustrate the ways in which MDI and DIG range may be used to assess time trees resultant from analyses varying in calibration regime, divergence dating approach or molecular sequence data analyzed. PMID:25281846

  4. The fossil record of evolution: Analysis of extinction

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Raup, D. M.

    1986-01-01

    There is increasing evidence that events in space have had direct effects on Earth history and on the history of life on Earth. Nowhere is this more evident than in mass extinction. The biosphere has undergone repeated devastation caused by relatively short-lived environmental stress, with species kill rates up to 80 and 95%. For five of the mass extinctions, geochemical or other evidence was reported suggesting large body impact as the cause of the environmental stress producing the extinctions. It was argued on statistical ground that the major extinction events are uniformly periodic in geological time. If it is true that large body impact is a principal cause of mass extinctions and if the periodicity is real, than a cosmic driving mechanism is inescapable. Paleontological data sets were developed which detail the ranges in geological time of about 4,000 families and 25,000 genera of fossil marine organisms. Analyses to date have concentrated on the most recent 250 million years. Associated with these studies are analyses of other aspects of Earth history which may have signatures indicative of extraterrestrial effects.

  5. Completeness of the fossil record: Estimating losses due to small body size

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cooper, Roger A.; Maxwell, Phillip A.; Crampton, James S.; Beu, Alan G.; Jones, Craig M.; Marshall, Bruce A.

    2006-04-01

    Size bias in the fossil record limits its use for interpreting patterns of past biodiversity and ecological change. Using comparative size frequency distributions of exceptionally good regional records of New Zealand Holocene and Cenozoic Mollusca in museum archive collections, we derive first-order estimates of the magnitude of the bias against small body size and the effect of this bias on completeness of the fossil record. Our database of 3907 fossil species represents an original living pool of 9086 species, from which ˜36% have been removed by size culling, 27% from the smallest size class (<5 mm). In contrast, non-size-related losses compose only 21% of the total. In soft rocks, the loss of small taxa can be reduced by nearly 50% through the employment of exhaustive collection and preparation techniques.

  6. Deciphering the fossil record of early bilaterian embryonic development in light of experimental taphonomy.

    PubMed

    Gostling, Neil J; Thomas, Ceri-Wyn; Greenwood, Jenny M; Dong, Xiping; Bengtson, Stefan; Raff, Elizabeth C; Raff, Rudolf A; Degnan, Bernard M; Stampanoni, Marco; Donoghue, Philip C J

    2008-01-01

    Experimental analyses of decay in a tunicate deuterostome and three lophotrochozoans indicate that the controls on decay and preservation of embryos, identified previously based on echinoids, are more generally applicable. Four stages of decay are identified regardless of the environment of death and decay. Embryos decay rapidly in oxic and anoxic conditions, although the gross morphology of embryos is maintained for longer under anoxic conditions. Under anoxic reducing conditions, the gross morphology of the embryos is maintained for the longest period of time, compatible with the timescale required for bacterially mediated mineralization of soft tissues. All four stages of decay were encountered under all environmental conditions, matching the spectrum of preservational qualities encountered in all fossil embryo assemblages. The preservation potential of embryos of deuterostomes and lophotrochozoans is at odds with the lack of such embryos in the fossil record. Rather, the fossil record of embryos, as sparse as it is, is dominated by forms interpreted as ecdysozoans, cnidarians, and stem-metazoans. The dearth of deuterostome and lophotrochozoan embryos may be explained by the fact that ecdysozoans, at least, tend to deposit their eggs in the sediment rather than through broadcast spawning. However, fossil embryos remain very rare and the main controlling factor on their fossilization may be the unique conspiracy of environmental conditions at a couple of sites. The preponderance of fossilized embryos of direct developers should not be used in evidence against the existence of indirect development at this time in animal evolutionary history. PMID:18460095

  7. A molecular phylogeny for bats illuminates biogeography and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Teeling, Emma C; Springer, Mark S; Madsen, Ole; Bates, Paul; O'brien, Stephen J; Murphy, William J

    2005-01-28

    Bats make up more than 20% of extant mammals, yet their evolutionary history is largely unknown because of a limited fossil record and conflicting or incomplete phylogenies. Here, we present a highly resolved molecular phylogeny for all extant bat families. Our results support the hypothesis that megabats are nested among four major microbat lineages, which originated in the early Eocene [52 to 50 million years ago (Mya)], coincident with a significant global rise in temperature, increase in plant diversity and abundance, and the zenith of Tertiary insect diversity. Our data suggest that bats originated in Laurasia, possibly in North America, and that three of the major microbat lineages are Laurasian in origin, whereas the fourth is Gondwanan. Combining principles of ghost lineage analysis with molecular divergence dates, we estimate that the bat fossil record underestimates (unrepresented basal branch length, UBBL) first occurrences by, on average, 73% and that the sum of missing fossil history is 61%. PMID:15681385

  8. Impact theory of mass extinctions and the invertebrate fossil record

    SciTech Connect

    Alvarez, W.; Kauffman, E.G.; Surlyk, F.; Alvarez, L.W.; Asaro, F.; Michel, H.V.

    1984-03-16

    There is much evidence that the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary was marked by a massive meteorite impact. Theoretical consideration of the consequences of such an impact predicts sharp extinctions in many groups of animals precisely at the boundary. Paleontological data clearly show gradual declines in diversity over the last 1 to 10 million years in various invertebrate groups. Reexamination of data from careful studies of the best sections shows that, in addition to undergoing the decline, four groups (ammonites, cheilostomate bryozoans, brachiopods, and bivalves) were affected by sudden truncations precisely at the iridium anomaly that marks the boundary. The paleontological record thus bears witness to terminal-Cretaceous extinctions on two time scales: a slow decline unrelated to the impact and a sharp truncation synchronous with and probably caused by the impact. 50 references, 4 figures.

  9. Extant-only comparative methods fail to recover the disparity preserved in the bird fossil record.

    PubMed

    Mitchell, Jonathan S

    2015-09-01

    Most extant species are in clades with poor fossil records, and recent studies of comparative methods show they have low power to infer even highly simplified models of trait evolution without fossil data. Birds are a well-studied radiation, yet their early evolutionary patterns are still contentious. The fossil record suggests that birds underwent a rapid ecological radiation after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, and several smaller, subsequent radiations. This hypothesized series of repeated radiations from fossil data is difficult to test using extant data alone. By uniting morphological and phylogenetic data on 604 extant genera of birds with morphological data on 58 species of extinct birds from 50 million years ago, the "halfway point" of avian evolution, I have been able to test how well extant-only methods predict the diversity of fossil forms. All extant-only methods underestimate the disparity, although the ratio of within- to between-clade disparity does suggest high early rates. The failure of standard models to predict high early disparity suggests that recent radiations are obscuring deep time patterns in the evolution of birds. Metrics from different models can be used in conjunction to provide more valuable insights than simply finding the model with the highest relative fit. PMID:26257156

  10. The avian fossil record in Insular Southeast Asia and its implications for avian biogeography and palaeoecology

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Excavations and studies of existing collections during the last decades have significantly increased the abundance as well as the diversity of the avian fossil record for Insular Southeast Asia. The avian fossil record covers the Eocene through the Holocene, with the majority of bird fossils Pleistocene in age. Fossil bird skeletal remains represent at least 63 species in 54 genera and 27 families, and two ichnospecies are represented by fossil footprints. Birds of prey, owls and swiftlets are common elements. Extinctions seem to have been few, suggesting continuity of avian lineages since at least the Late Pleistocene, although some shifts in species ranges have occurred in response to climatic change. Similarities between the Late Pleistocene avifaunas of Flores and Java suggest a dispersal route across southern Sundaland. Late Pleistocene assemblages of Niah Cave (Borneo) and Liang Bua (Flores) support the rainforest refugium hypothesis in Southeast Asia as they indicate the persistence of forest cover, at least locally, throughout the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. PMID:24688871

  11. The avian fossil record in Insular Southeast Asia and its implications for avian biogeography and palaeoecology.

    PubMed

    Meijer, Hanneke J M

    2014-01-01

    Excavations and studies of existing collections during the last decades have significantly increased the abundance as well as the diversity of the avian fossil record for Insular Southeast Asia. The avian fossil record covers the Eocene through the Holocene, with the majority of bird fossils Pleistocene in age. Fossil bird skeletal remains represent at least 63 species in 54 genera and 27 families, and two ichnospecies are represented by fossil footprints. Birds of prey, owls and swiftlets are common elements. Extinctions seem to have been few, suggesting continuity of avian lineages since at least the Late Pleistocene, although some shifts in species ranges have occurred in response to climatic change. Similarities between the Late Pleistocene avifaunas of Flores and Java suggest a dispersal route across southern Sundaland. Late Pleistocene assemblages of Niah Cave (Borneo) and Liang Bua (Flores) support the rainforest refugium hypothesis in Southeast Asia as they indicate the persistence of forest cover, at least locally, throughout the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. PMID:24688871

  12. Orbital Climate Cycles in the Fossil Record: From Semidiurnal to Million-Year Biotic Responses

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rodríguez-Tovar, Francisco J.

    2014-05-01

    Understanding climate change, its effect on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and possible ways to prevent future climate disasters is a major challenge for society, involving specialists in climate science, terrestrial and marine ecology, paleontology, and sedimentary geology. One approach is to study the deep-time record, especially when the time involved in a particular climatic change can be calibrated. Cyclostratigraphy is a useful tool for this. Throughout Earth's history, different scales of orbital cycles have had significant impacts on atmosphere-ocean dynamics; these impacts are preserved in the ecological and sedimentary record. Most characterizations of these cycles are based on the sedimentary record. But fossil records of past biota, corresponding to individual organisms and communities, have proven very useful in cyclostratigraphic research: From semidiurnal cycles mainly recorded in fossil skeletons to million-year-scale cycles involving mass extinctions, various cases illustrate their worth. This article reviews the use of the fossil record to recognize several cycles, from ecological timescales (≤1.0 yr to 10 kyr cycles; calendar and solar bands) to geological timescales (>10 kyr cycles; Milankovitch and galactic bands).

  13. The Completeness of the Fossil Record of Mesozoic Birds: Implications for Early Avian Evolution

    PubMed Central

    Brocklehurst, Neil; Upchurch, Paul; Mannion, Philip D.; O'Connor, Jingmai

    2012-01-01

    Many palaeobiological analyses have concluded that modern birds (Neornithes) radiated no earlier than the Maastrichtian, whereas molecular clock studies have argued for a much earlier origination. Here, we assess the quality of the fossil record of Mesozoic avian species, using a recently proposed character completeness metric which calculates the percentage of phylogenetic characters that can be scored for each taxon. Estimates of fossil record quality are plotted against geological time and compared to estimates of species level diversity, sea level, and depositional environment. Geographical controls on the avian fossil record are investigated by comparing the completeness scores of species in different continental regions and latitudinal bins. Avian fossil record quality varies greatly with peaks during the Tithonian-early Berriasian, Aptian, and Coniacian–Santonian, and troughs during the Albian-Turonian and the Maastrichtian. The completeness metric correlates more strongly with a ‘sampling corrected’ residual diversity curve of avian species than with the raw taxic diversity curve, suggesting that the abundance and diversity of birds might influence the probability of high quality specimens being preserved. There is no correlation between avian completeness and sea level, the number of fluviolacustrine localities or a recently constructed character completeness metric of sauropodomorph dinosaurs. Comparisons between the completeness of Mesozoic birds and sauropodomorphs suggest that small delicate vertebrate skeletons are more easily destroyed by taphonomic processes, but more easily preserved whole. Lagerstätten deposits might therefore have a stronger impact on reconstructions of diversity of smaller organisms relative to more robust forms. The relatively poor quality of the avian fossil record in the Late Cretaceous combined with very patchy regional sampling means that it is possible neornithine lineages were present throughout this interval but have not yet been sampled or are difficult to identify because of the fragmentary nature of the specimens. PMID:22761723

  14. Fossil DNA as a Recorder of Ancient Microbial Communities and Palaeoenvironments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coolen, M. J.; Boere, A.; Abbas, B.; Muyzer, G.; Overmann, J.; Wakeham, S. G.; Volkman, J. K.; Sinninghe Damste, J. S.

    2005-12-01

    Fossilized organic components provide an archive of ancient aquatic microbial communities and, hence, can be used to reconstruct climate-induced environmental changes and their impacts on biodiversity. However, the interpretation of these data is complicated by the limited source specificity of some traditional biomarkers, such as lipids and pigments. The ultimate biomarkers are genes encoding for ribosomal RNA (rDNA), which sequences provide information at the species level by phylogenetic comparison but until recently was only applied to identify extant species within environmental samples. With the exception of excellent preservation conditions prevailing in permafrost sediments (3), it was generally believed that DNA becomes rapidly degraded within fossil records. However, we have recently shown that especially in the presence of hydrogen sulfide, DNA can survive in the Holocene fossil record (1, 2). In this presentation we will show how, and to what extent, fossil DNA extracted from Holocene sediments of stratified lakes (the Canadian Mahoney Lake and the Antarctic Ace Lake) and the deep-sea (Black Sea) can be used as a novel proxy to reconstruct the ancient palaeodepositional environments and evolution of past microbial communities. In addition, we will discuss the fate of fossil DNA; quantitative stratigraphic analysis of lipid biomarkers and rDNA from the same biological precursors revealed information on the survival of fossil DNA in comparison to lipid biomarkers. It was shown that most of the DNA was degraded before dead cells reach the bottom but the remaining part was found to be well protected and even less prone to diagenetic alteration compared to certain lipid biomarkers. Base-pair compositions did not change during the Holocene, however, the fossil DNA became fragmented after several thousands of years of deposition but without significantly biasing the qualitative and quantitative molecular biological analysis of at least 10-ka-old fossil DNA. Furthermore, we will discuss examples which show the relevance of the identification of the ancient aquatic microbial community members at the unprecedented species-level using fossil rDNA as a novel palaeoproxy. (1) Coolen, MJL., et al., Combined DNA and lipid analyses of sediments reveal changes in Holocene haptophyte and diatom populations in an Antarctic lake , Earth. Planet. Sc. Lett., 223, 225-239, 2004. (2) Coolen, MJL and J. Overmann, Analysis of subfossil molecular remains of purple sulfur bacteria in a lake sediment, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 64(11), 4513-4521, 1998. (3) Willerslev, E., et al. Diverse plant and animal genetic records from Holocene and Pleistocene sediments, Science, 300(5620), 791-795, 2003.

  15. Assessing the completeness of the fossil record using brachiopod Lazarus taxa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gearty, W.; Payne, J.

    2012-12-01

    Lazarus taxa, organisms that disappear from the fossil record only to reappear later, provide a unique opportunity to assess the completeness of the fossil record. In this study, we apply logistic regression to quantify the associations of body size, geographic extent, and species diversity with the probability of being a Lazarus genus using the Phanerozoic fossil record of brachiopods. We find that both the geographic range and species diversity of a genus are inversely associated with the probability of being a Lazarus taxon in the preceding or succeeding stage. In contrast, body size exhibits little association with the probability of becoming a Lazarus taxon. A model including species diversity and geographic extent as predictors performs best among all combinations examined, whereas a model including only shell size as a predictor performs the worst - even worse than a model that assumes Lazarus taxa are randomly drawn from all available genera. These findings suggest that geographic range and species richness data can be used to improve estimates of extensions on the observed fossil ranges of genera and, thereby, better correct for sampling effects in estimates of taxonomic diversity change through the Phanerozoic.

  16. Fossilized embryos are widespread but the record is temporally and taxonomically biased

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Donoghue, P.C.J.; Kouchinsky, A.; Waloszek, Dieter; Bengtson, S.; Dong, X.-P.; Val'Kov, A.K.; Cunningham, J.A.; Repetski, J.E.

    2006-01-01

    We report new discoveries of embryos and egg capsules from the Lower Cambrian of Siberia, Middle Cambrian of Australia and Lower Ordovician of North America. Together with existing records, embryos have now been recorded from four of the seven continents. However, the new discoveries highlight secular and systematic biases in the fossil record of embryonic stages. The temporal window within which the embryos and egg capsules are found is of relatively short duration; it ends in the Early Ordovician and is roughly coincident with that of typical "Orsten"-type faunas. The reduced occurrence of such fossils has been attributed to reducing levels of phosphate in marine waters during the early Paleozoic, but may also be owing to the increasing depth of sediment mixing by infaunal metazoans. Furthermore, most records younger than the earliest Cambrian are of a single kind - large eggs and embryos of the priapulid-like scalidophoran Markuelia. We explore alternative explanations for the low taxonomic diversity of embryos recovered thus far, including sampling, size, anatomy, ecology, and environment, concluding that the preponderance of Markuelia embryos is due to its precocious development of cuticle at an embryonic stage, predisposing it to preservation through action as a substrate on which microbially mediated precipitation of authigenic calcium phosphate may occur. The fossil record of embryos may be limited to a late Neoproterozoic to early Ordovician snapshot that is subject to dramatic systematic bias. Together, these biases must be considered seriously in attempts to use the fossil record to arbitrate between hypotheses of developmental and life history evolution implicated in the origin of metazoan clades. ?? 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

  17. Unlocking the early fossil record of the arthropod central nervous system

    PubMed Central

    Edgecombe, Gregory D.; Ma, Xiaoya; Strausfeld, Nicholas J.

    2015-01-01

    Extant panarthropods (euarthropods, onychophorans and tardigrades) are hallmarked by stunning morphological and taxonomic diversity, but their central nervous systems (CNS) are relatively conserved. The timing of divergences of the ground pattern CNS organization of the major panarthropod clades has been poorly constrained because of a scarcity of data from their early fossil record. Although the CNS has been documented in three-dimensional detail in insects from Cenozoic ambers, it is widely assumed that these tissues are too prone to decay to withstand other styles of fossilization or geologically older preservation. However, Cambrian Burgess Shale-type compressions have emerged as sources of fossilized brains and nerve cords. CNS in these Cambrian fossils are preserved as carbon films or as iron oxides/hydroxides after pyrite in association with carbon. Experiments with carcasses compacted in fine-grained sediment depict preservation of neural tissue for a more prolonged temporal window than anticipated by decay experiments in other media. CNS and compound eye characters in exceptionally preserved Cambrian fossils predict divergences of the mandibulate and chelicerate ground patterns by Cambrian Stage 3 (ca 518 Ma), a dating that is compatible with molecular estimates for these splits. PMID:26554038

  18. Diversity-dependence brings molecular phylogenies closer to agreement with the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Etienne, Rampal S; Haegeman, Bart; Stadler, Tanja; Aze, Tracy; Pearson, Paul N; Purvis, Andy; Phillimore, Albert B

    2012-04-01

    The branching times of molecular phylogenies allow us to infer speciation and extinction dynamics even when fossils are absent. Troublingly, phylogenetic approaches usually return estimates of zero extinction, conflicting with fossil evidence. Phylogenies and fossils do agree, however, that there are often limits to diversity. Here, we present a general approach to evaluate the likelihood of a phylogeny under a model that accommodates diversity-dependence and extinction. We find, by likelihood maximization, that extinction is estimated most precisely if the rate of increase in the number of lineages in the phylogeny saturates towards the present or first decreases and then increases. We demonstrate the utility and limits of our approach by applying it to the phylogenies for two cases where a fossil record exists (Cetacea and Cenozoic macroperforate planktonic foraminifera) and to three radiations lacking fossil evidence (Dendroica, Plethodon and Heliconius). We propose that the diversity-dependence model with extinction be used as the standard model for macro-evolutionary dynamics because of its biological realism and flexibility. PMID:21993508

  19. Unlocking the early fossil record of the arthropod central nervous system.

    PubMed

    Edgecombe, Gregory D; Ma, Xiaoya; Strausfeld, Nicholas J

    2015-12-19

    Extant panarthropods (euarthropods, onychophorans and tardigrades) are hallmarked by stunning morphological and taxonomic diversity, but their central nervous systems (CNS) are relatively conserved. The timing of divergences of the ground pattern CNS organization of the major panarthropod clades has been poorly constrained because of a scarcity of data from their early fossil record. Although the CNS has been documented in three-dimensional detail in insects from Cenozoic ambers, it is widely assumed that these tissues are too prone to decay to withstand other styles of fossilization or geologically older preservation. However, Cambrian Burgess Shale-type compressions have emerged as sources of fossilized brains and nerve cords. CNS in these Cambrian fossils are preserved as carbon films or as iron oxides/hydroxides after pyrite in association with carbon. Experiments with carcasses compacted in fine-grained sediment depict preservation of neural tissue for a more prolonged temporal window than anticipated by decay experiments in other media. CNS and compound eye characters in exceptionally preserved Cambrian fossils predict divergences of the mandibulate and chelicerate ground patterns by Cambrian Stage 3 (ca 518 Ma), a dating that is compatible with molecular estimates for these splits. PMID:26554038

  20. Late Miocene to Pliocene carbon isotope record of differential diet change among East African herbivores.

    PubMed

    Uno, Kevin T; Cerling, Thure E; Harris, John M; Kunimatsu, Yutaka; Leakey, Meave G; Nakatsukasa, Masato; Nakaya, Hideo

    2011-04-19

    Stable isotope and molecular data suggest that C(4) grasses first appeared globally in the Oligocene. In East Africa, stable isotope data from pedogenic carbonate and fossil tooth enamel suggest a first appearance between 15-10 Ma and subsequent expansion during the Plio-Pleistocene. The fossil enamel record has the potential to provide detailed information about the rates of dietary adaptation to this new resource among different herbivore lineages. We present carbon isotope data from 452 fossil teeth that record differential rates of diet change from C(3) to mixed C(3)/C(4) or C(4) diets among East African herbivore families at seven different time periods during the Late Miocene to the Pliocene (9.9-3.2 Ma). Significant amounts of C(4) grasses were present in equid diets beginning at 9.9 Ma and in rhinocerotid diets by 9.6 Ma, although there is no isotopic evidence for expansive C(4) grasslands in this part of the Late Miocene. Bovids and hippopotamids followed suit with individuals that had C(4)-dominated (>65%) diets by 7.4 Ma. Suids adopted C(4)-dominated diets between 6.5 and 4.2 Ma. Gomphotheriids and elephantids had mostly C(3)-dominated diets through 9.3 Ma, but became dedicated C(4) grazers by 6.5 Ma. Deinotheriids and giraffids maintained a predominantly C(3) diet throughout the record. The sequence of differential diet change among herbivore lineages provides ecological insight into a key period of hominid evolution and valuable information for future studies that focus on morphological changes associated with diet change. PMID:21464327

  1. Fossil invertebrates records in cave sediments and paleoenvironmental assessments: a study of four cave sites from Romanian Carpathians

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moldovan, O. T.; Constantin, S.; Panaiotu, C.; Roban, R. D.; Frenzel, P.; Miko, L.

    2015-06-01

    Fossil invertebrates from cave sediments have been recently described as a potential new proxy for paleoenvironment and used in cross-correlations with alternate proxy records from cave deposits. Here we present the results of a fossil invertebrates study in four caves from two climatically different regions of the Romanian Carpathians, to complement paleoenvironmental data previously reported. Oribatid mites and ostracods are the most common invertebrates in the studied cave sediments. Some of the identified taxa are new for science, and most of them are indicative for either warm/cold stages or dry/wetter oscillations. In two caves the fossil invertebrates records indicate rapid climate oscillations during times known for a relatively stable climate. By corroborating the fossil invertebrates' record with the information given by magnetic properties and sediment structures, complementary data on past vegetation, temperatures, and hydraulic regimes could be gathered. This paper analyses the potential of fossil invertebrate records as a paleoenvironmental proxy, potential problems and pitfalls.

  2. Mass extinctions in the fossil record of late Palaeozoic and Mesozoic tetrapods

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Benton, Michael J.

    The fossil record of tetrapods is very patchy because of the problems of preservation in terrestrial sediments, and because vertebrates are rarely very abundant. However, the fossil record of tetrapods has the advantages that it is easier to establish a phylogenetic taxonomy than for many invertebrate groups (many characters; fast evolution), and there is the potential for more detailed ecological analyses (greater knowledge of modern tetrapod ecology). The diversity of tetrapods increased during the Devonian, the Carboniferous, and the Permian, but it remained generally constant during the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Early Cretaceous. Overall diversity then began to increase in the Late Cretaceous, and continued to do so during the Tertiary. The rapid radiation of modern tetrapod groups frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, turtles, crocodiles, birds and mammals was hardly affected by the celebrated end-Cretaceous extinction event.

  3. Ancient DNA sheds new light on the Svalbard foraminiferal fossil record of the last millennium.

    PubMed

    Pawłowska, J; Lejzerowicz, F; Esling, P; Szczuciński, W; Zajączkowski, M; Pawlowski, J

    2014-07-01

    Recent palaeogenetic studies have demonstrated the occurrence of preserved ancient DNA (aDNA) in various types of fossilised material. Environmental aDNA sequences assigned to modern species have been recovered from marine sediments dating to the Pleistocene. However, the match between the aDNA and the fossil record still needs to be evaluated for the environmental DNA approaches to be fully exploited. Here, we focus on foraminifera in sediments up to one thousand years old retrieved from the Hornsund fjord (Svalbard). We compared the diversity of foraminiferal microfossil assemblages with the diversity of aDNA sequenced from subsurface sediment samples using both cloning and high-throughput sequencing (HTS). Our study shows that 57% of the species archived in the fossil record were also detected in the aDNA data. However, the relative abundance of aDNA sequence reads and fossil specimens differed considerably. We also found a limited match between the stratigraphic occurrence of some fossil species and their aDNA sequences, especially in the case of rare taxa. The aDNA data comprised a high proportion of non-fossilised monothalamous species, which are known to dominate in modern foraminiferal communities of the Svalbard region. Our results confirm the relevance of HTS for studying past micro-eukaryotic diversity and provide insight into its ability to reflect fossil assemblages. Palaeogenetic studies including aDNA analyses of non-fossilised groups expand the range of palaeoceanographical proxies and therefore may increase the accuracy of palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. PMID:24730667

  4. A new African fossil caprin and a combined molecular and morphological Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of caprini (Mammalia: Bovidae).

    PubMed

    Bibi, F; Vrba, E; Fack, F

    2012-09-01

    Given that most species that have ever existed on Earth are extinct, no evolutionary history can ever be complete without the inclusion of fossil taxa. Bovids (antelopes and relatives) are one of the most diverse clades of large mammals alive today, with over a hundred living species and hundreds of documented fossil species. With the advent of molecular phylogenetics, major advances have been made in the phylogeny of this clade; however, there has been little attempt to integrate the fossil record into the developing phylogenetic picture. We here describe a new large fossil caprin species from ca. 1.9-Ma deposits from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia. To place the new species phylogenetically, we perform a Bayesian analysis of a combined molecular (cytochrome b) and morphological (osteological) character supermatrix. We include all living species of Caprini, the new fossil species, a fossil takin from the Pliocene of Ethiopia (Budorcas churcheri), and the insular subfossil Myotragus balearicus. The combined analysis demonstrates successful incorporation of both living and fossil species within a single phylogeny based on both molecular and morphological evidence. Analysis of the combined supermatrix produces superior resolution than with either the molecular or morphological data sets considered alone. Parsimony and Bayesian analyses of the data set are also compared and shown to produce similar results. The combined phylogenetic analysis indicates that the new fossil species is nested within Capra, making it one of the earliest representatives of this clade, with implications for molecular clock calibration. Geographical optimization indicates no less than four independent dispersals into Africa by caprins since the Pliocene. PMID:22816969

  5. The fossil record, function, and possible origins of shell color patterns in Paleozoic marine invertebrates

    SciTech Connect

    Kobluk, D.R. ); Mapes, R.H. )

    1989-02-01

    Fossil invertebrate shells and carapaces displaying preserved original color patterns are among the rarest fossils. The fossil record of color patterns extends into the Middle Cambrian where the trilobite Anomocare displays a fan-like array of stripes on the pygidium. About 180 Paleozic genera are known with patterns, including trilobites, cephalopods, gastropods, brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids, and crustaceans. Based upon an analysis of these taxa, it appears that patterns and pigments in middle and late Paleozoic invertebrates may have served several functions such as warning displays, light screening, camouflage, or waste disposal. However, the presence of color patterns in fossil invertebrates in the early Paleozoic may have developed prior to the evolution of vision sufficiently sophisticated to see them. This suggests that camouflage and warning displays were not the original functions of color patterns, and that in the earliest Paleozoic they may not have been functional. The authors propose a hypothesis that involves three developmental phases in the evolution of invertebrate color patterns: (1) the incorporation of metabolic by-products, perhaps some pigmented and some not pigmented, into shells and carapaces as a means of disposal of dietary or metabolic wastes, (2) use of these pigments and patterns as an environmental adaptation, such as light screening, and (3) display during and following the evolution of vision in predators sufficiently sophisticated to see the patterns.

  6. Late Paleocene fossils from the Cerrejon Formation, Colombia, are the earliest record of Neotropical rainforest.

    PubMed

    Wing, Scott L; Herrera, Fabiany; Jaramillo, Carlos A; Gómez-Navarro, Carolina; Wilf, Peter; Labandeira, Conrad C

    2009-11-01

    Neotropical rainforests have a very poor fossil record, making hypotheses concerning their origins difficult to evaluate. Nevertheless, some of their most important characteristics can be preserved in the fossil record: high plant diversity, dominance by a distinctive combination of angiosperm families, a preponderance of plant species with large, smooth-margined leaves, and evidence for a high diversity of herbivorous insects. Here, we report on an approximately 58-my-old flora from the Cerrejón Formation of Colombia (paleolatitude approximately 5 degrees N) that is the earliest megafossil record of Neotropical rainforest. The flora has abundant, diverse palms and legumes and similar family composition to extant Neotropical rainforest. Three-quarters of the leaf types are large and entire-margined, indicating rainfall >2,500 mm/year and mean annual temperature >25 degrees C. Despite modern family composition and tropical paleoclimate, the diversity of fossil pollen and leaf samples is 60-80% that of comparable samples from extant and Quaternary Neotropical rainforest from similar climates. Insect feeding damage on Cerrejón fossil leaves, representing primary consumers, is abundant, but also of low diversity, and overwhelmingly made by generalist feeders rather than specialized herbivores. Cerrejón megafossils provide strong evidence that the same Neotropical rainforest families have characterized the biome since the Paleocene, maintaining their importance through climatic phases warmer and cooler than present. The low diversity of both plants and herbivorous insects in this Paleocene Neotropical rainforest may reflect an early stage in the diversification of the lineages that inhabit this biome, and/or a long recovery period from the terminal Cretaceous extinction. PMID:19833876

  7. Direct and indirect fossil records of megachilid bees from the Paleogene of Central Europe (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wedmann, Sonja; Wappler, Torsten; Engel, Michael S.

    2009-06-01

    Aside from pollen and nectar, bees of the subfamily Megachilinae are closely associated with plants as a source of materials for nest construction. Megachilines use resins, masticated leaves, trichomes and other plant materials sometimes along with mud to construct nests in cavities or in soil. Among these, the leafcutter bees ( Megachile s.l.) are the most famous for their behaviour to line their brood cells with discs cut from various plants. We report on fossil records of one body fossil of a new non-leafcutting megachiline and of 12 leafcuttings from three European sites—Eckfeld and Messel, both in Germany (Eocene), and Menat, France (Paleocene). The excisions include the currently earliest record of probable Megachile activity and suggest the presence of such bees in the Paleocene European fauna. Comparison with extant leafcuttings permits the interpretation of a minimal number of species that produced these excisions. The wide range of size for the leafcuttings indirectly might suggest at least two species of Megachile for the fauna of Messel in addition to the other megachiline bee described here. The presence of several cuttings on most leaves from Eckfeld implies that the preferential foraging behaviour of extant Megachile arose early in megachiline evolution. These results demonstrate that combined investigation of body and trace fossils complement each other in understanding past biodiversity, the latter permitting the detection of taxa not otherwise directly sampled and inferences on behavioural evolution.

  8. Thalloid organisms and the fossil record: New perspectives from the Transantarctic Mountains.

    PubMed

    Bomfleur, Benjamin; Krings, Michael; Kerp, Hans

    2010-03-01

    Thalloid body plans occur in several groups of organisms, including bryophytes, lichens and algae. While many aspects of the biology and ecology of extant thalloid organisms are well understood today, knowledge about the evolutionary history, palaeobiology and palaeoecology of these life forms remains limited. The recently discovered thalloid fossil Litothallus ganovex from the Triassic of Antarctica consists of fused vertical cell filaments forming a pseudoparenchymatous crust-like body, and most likely represents a freshwater macroalga. Other cuticle fragments from Antarctica are tentatively interpreted as remains of thallose liverworts. These unexpected new finds indicate that thalloid organisms are more frequent in the fossil record than previously assumed, and contribute to a better understanding of the palaeobiodiversity of ancient non-marine ecosystems. PMID:20081351

  9. Fossil steroids record the appearance of Demospongiae during the Cryogenian period.

    PubMed

    Love, Gordon D; Grosjean, Emmanuelle; Stalvies, Charlotte; Fike, David A; Grotzinger, John P; Bradley, Alexander S; Kelly, Amy E; Bhatia, Maya; Meredith, William; Snape, Colin E; Bowring, Samuel A; Condon, Daniel J; Summons, Roger E

    2009-02-01

    The Neoproterozoic era (1,000-542 Myr ago) was an era of climatic extremes and biological evolutionary developments culminating in the emergence of animals (Metazoa) and new ecosystems. Here we show that abundant sedimentary 24-isopropylcholestanes, the hydrocarbon remains of C(30) sterols produced by marine demosponges, record the presence of Metazoa in the geological record before the end of the Marinoan glaciation ( approximately 635 Myr ago). These sterane biomarkers are abundant in all formations of the Huqf Supergroup, South Oman Salt Basin, and, based on a new high-precision geochronology, constitute a continuous 100-Myr-long chemical fossil record of demosponges through the terminal Neoproterozoic and into the Early Cambrian epoch. The demosponge steranes occur in strata that underlie the Marinoan cap carbonate (>635 Myr ago). They currently represent the oldest evidence for animals in the fossil record, and are evidence for animals pre-dating the termination of the Marinoan glaciation. This suggests that shallow shelf waters in some late Cryogenian ocean basins (>635 Myr ago) contained dissolved oxygen in concentrations sufficient to support basal metazoan life at least 100 Myr before the rapid diversification of bilaterians during the Cambrian explosion. Biomarker analysis has yet to reveal any convincing evidence for ancient sponges pre-dating the first globally extensive Neoproterozoic glacial episode (the Sturtian, approximately 713 Myr ago in Oman). PMID:19194449

  10. The fossil record and estimating divergence times between lineages: maximum divergence times and the importance of reliable phylogenies.

    PubMed

    Marshall, C R

    1990-05-01

    Bounded estimates on divergence times between lineages are crucial to the calculation of absolute rates of molecular evolution. Upper (minimum) bounds on divergence times are easily estimated based on earliest fossil finds. Lower (maximum) bounds are more difficult to estimate; the age of putative ancestors may be used, though in practice it is virtually impossible to distinguish ancestors from primitive sister groups, which do not, of logical necessity, constitute lower bounds on divergence times. Two relatively new approaches to estimating lower bounds directly assess the incompleteness of the fossil record. The first uses taphonomic control groups to distinguish real absences from nonpreservation, while the second, and probably more powerful, uses the quality of the fossil record to estimate confidence intervals on the bases of stratigraphic ranges. For some groups, especially vertebrates, the inclusion or exclusion of problematic fossils can dramatically affect estimated lower bounds on divergence times, often swamping the uncertainties due to the incompleteness of the fossil record and/or correlation and dating errors. When datable paleogeographic events reflect ancient divisions of faunas, a lower bound on the divergence time of species within a fauna can be established based on the geologic, rather than fossil, record. The fossil records of hominids, eutherian mammals, echinoids, and geese are used as examples. PMID:2111853

  11. Microaerobic steroid biosynthesis and the molecular fossil record of Archean life

    PubMed Central

    Waldbauer, Jacob R.; Newman, Dianne K.; Summons, Roger E.

    2011-01-01

    The power of molecular oxygen to drive many crucial biogeochemical processes, from cellular respiration to rock weathering, makes reconstructing the history of its production and accumulation a first-order question for understanding Earth’s evolution. Among the various geochemical proxies for the presence of O2 in the environment, molecular fossils offer a unique record of O2 where it was first produced and consumed by biology: in sunlit aquatic habitats. As steroid biosynthesis requires molecular oxygen, fossil steranes have been used to draw inferences about aerobiosis in the early Precambrian. However, better quantitative constraints on the O2 requirement of this biochemistry would clarify the implications of these molecular fossils for environmental conditions at the time of their production. Here we demonstrate that steroid biosynthesis is a microaerobic process, enabled by dissolved O2 concentrations in the nanomolar range. We present evidence that microaerobic marine environments (where steroid biosynthesis was possible) could have been widespread and persistent for long periods of time prior to the earliest geologic and isotopic evidence for atmospheric O2. In the late Archean, molecular oxygen likely cycled as a biogenic trace gas, much as compounds such as dimethylsulfide do today. PMID:21825157

  12. First Quaternary Fossil Record of Caecilians from a Mexican Archaeological Site

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wake, Thomas A.; Wake, Marvalee H.; Lesure, Richard G.

    1999-07-01

    A single vertebra from an Early Formative period archaeological site in coastal Chiapas, México, is identified as belonging to the amphibian Dermophis mexicanus (Duméril and Bibron) 1841 (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Caeciliidae). The vertebra was recovered from deposits dated to approximately 1200-1350 B.C. The specimen represents the first Quaternary fossil record for gymnophiones. Its presence suggests the possible role of the species as a bioturbator. Its recovery is further evidence of the utility of fine-grained archaeological recovery techniques.

  13. Assessment of the clumped isotope composition of fossil bone carbonate as a recorder of subsurface temperatures

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Suarez, Marina B.; Passey, Benjamin H.

    2014-09-01

    Bone is susceptible to early diagenesis, and its carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions have been suggested to reflect conditions in the soil environment and shallow subsurface during fossilization. This implies open-system recrystallization involving mass exchange of carbon and oxygen among bioapatite, soil water, and DIC. Such recrystallization would also redistribute isotopic clumping (including 13C-18O bonds), leading to the possibility that the carbonate clumped isotope compositions of fossil bone record ground temperature during early diagenesis. We assess this possibility by studying Quaternary mammalian fossil bone from subtropical to polar latitudes: if recrystallization is early and pervasive, clumped isotope derived temperatures, T(Δ47), should closely mirror latitudinal gradients in ground temperature. Excluding results from a mummified specimen yielding T(Δ47) = 38 °C (that is, indistinguishable from mammalian body temperature), we find that T(Δ47) values are intermediate between mammalian body temperature and ground temperature, suggesting partial recrystallization of bone carbonate. XRD analyses show that the nature and extent of diagenesis varies among the samples and does not relate in a straightforward manner to T(Δ47). No clear correlation exists between T(Δ47) and mean annual temperature or mean warm season temperature. Furthermore, bone tends to retain the 18O-enriched signature of body water, suggesting incomplete oxygen isotope exchange with meteoric waters. Incomplete carbon and oxygen isotope exchange between bone carbonate and soil waters is also indicated for a set of late Miocene bone-enamel pairs from a sequence of stacked paleosols in northern China. Analysis of bone as old as Early Cretaceous shows that bone carbonate is susceptible to later diagenesis at elevated burial temperatures, although T(Δ47) does not closely conform to maximum burial temperature, again suggesting partial recrystallization, or recrystallization during different stages of the burial and exhumation circuit. These results show that carbon, oxygen, and ‘clumped’ isotopes in fossil bone are capable of recording aspects of early diagenesis and the subsequent burial and exhumation history, but that distinguishing among different effects is challenging. However, clumped isotopes in bone can provide useful directional constraints on past temperatures. For example, T(Δ47) values higher than body temperature necessarily place lower limits on maximum burial temperatures, and those lower than body temperature place upper limits on minimum fossilization temperatures.

  14. Preservation of key biomolecules in the fossil record: current knowledge and future challenges.

    PubMed

    Bada, J L; Wang, X S; Hamilton, H

    1999-01-29

    We have developed a model based on the analyses of modern and Pleistocene eggshells and mammalian bones which can be used to understand the preservation of amino acids and other important biomolecules such as DNA in fossil specimens. The model is based on the following series of diagenetic reactions and processes involving amino acids: the hydrolysis of proteins and the subsequent loss of hydrolysis products from the fossil matrix with increasing geologic age; the racemization of amino acids which produces totally racemized amino acids in 10(5)-10(6) years in most environments on the Earth; the introduction of contaminants into the fossil that lowers the enantiomeric (D:L) ratios produced via racemization; and the condensation reactions between amino acids, as well as other compounds with primary amino groups, and sugars which yield humic acid-like polymers. This model was used to evaluate whether useful amino acid and DNA sequence information is preserved in a variety of human, amber-entombed insect and dinosaur specimens. Most skeletal remains of evolutionary interest with respect to the origin of modern humans are unlikely to preserve useful biomolecular information although those from high latitude sites may be an exception. Amber-entombed insects contain well-preserved unracemized amino acids, apparently because of the anhydrous nature of the amber matrix, and thus may contain DNA fragments which have retained meaningful genetic information. Dinosaur specimens contain mainly exogenous amino acids, although traces of endogenous amino acids may be present in some cases. Future ancient biomolecule research which takes advantage of new methologies involving, for example, humic acid cleaving reagents and microchip-based DNA-protein detection and sequencing, along with investigations of very slow biomolecule diagenetic reactions such as the racemization of isoleucine at the beta-carbon, will lead to further enhancements of our understanding of biomolecule preservation in the fossil record. PMID:10091249

  15. Evolutionary timescale of monocots determined by the fossilized birth-death model using a large number of fossil records.

    PubMed

    Eguchi, Satoshi; Tamura, Minoru N

    2016-05-01

    Although the phylogenetic relationships between monocot orders are sufficiently understood, a timescale of their evolution is needed. Several studies on molecular clock dating are available, but their results have been biased by their calibration schemes. Recently, the fossilized birth-death model, a type of Bayesian dating method, was proposed, and it does not require prior calibration and allows the use all available fossils. Using this model, we conducted divergence-time estimations of monocots to explore their evolutionary timeline without calibration bias. This is the first application of this model to seed plants. The dataset contained the matK and rbcL chloroplast genes of 118 monocot genera covering all extant orders. We employed information from 247 monocot fossils, which exceeded previous dating analyses that used a maximum of 12 monocot fossils. The crown group of monocots was dated to approximately the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous periods, and most extant monocot orders were estimated to diverge throughout the Early Cretaceous. Our results overlapped with the divergence time of insect lineages, such as beetles and flies, suggesting an association with pollinators in early monocot evolution. In addition, we proposed three new orders based on divergence time: Orchidales separated from Asparagales and Tofieldiales and Arales separated from Aslimatales. PMID:27061096

  16. Changes to the Fossil Record of Insects through Fifteen Years of Discovery

    PubMed Central

    Nicholson, David B.; Mayhew, Peter J.; Ross, Andrew J.

    2015-01-01

    The first and last occurrences of hexapod families in the fossil record are compiled from publications up to end-2009. The major features of these data are compared with those of previous datasets (1993 and 1994). About a third of families (>400) are new to the fossil record since 1994, over half of the earlier, existing families have experienced changes in their known stratigraphic range and only about ten percent have unchanged ranges. Despite these significant additions to knowledge, the broad pattern of described richness through time remains similar, with described richness increasing steadily through geological history and a shift in dominant taxa, from Palaeoptera and Polyneoptera to Paraneoptera and Holometabola, after the Palaeozoic. However, after detrending, described richness is not well correlated with the earlier datasets, indicating significant changes in shorter-term patterns. There is reduced Palaeozoic richness, peaking at a different time, and a less pronounced Permian decline. A pronounced Triassic peak and decline is shown, and the plateau from the mid Early Cretaceous to the end of the period remains, albeit at substantially higher richness compared to earlier datasets. Origination and extinction rates are broadly similar to before, with a broad decline in both through time but episodic peaks, including end-Permian turnover. Origination more consistently exceeds extinction compared to previous datasets and exceptions are mainly in the Palaeozoic. These changes suggest that some inferences about causal mechanisms in insect macroevolution are likely to differ as well. PMID:26176667

  17. Biology in the Anthropocene: Challenges and insights from young fossil records.

    PubMed

    Kidwell, Susan M

    2015-04-21

    With overwhelming evidence of change in habitats, biologists today must assume that few, if any, study areas are natural and that biological variability is superimposed on trends rather than stationary means. Paleobiological data from the youngest sedimentary record, including death assemblages actively accumulating on modern land surfaces and seabeds, provide unique information on the status of present-day species, communities, and biomes over the last few decades to millennia and on their responses to natural and anthropogenic environmental change. Key advances have established the accuracy and resolving power of paleobiological information derived from naturally preserved remains and of proxy evidence for environmental conditions and sample age so that fossil data can both implicate and exonerate human stressors as the drivers of biotic change and permit the effects of multiple stressors to be disentangled. Legacy effects from Industrial and even pre-Industrial anthropogenic extirpations, introductions, (de)nutrification, and habitat conversion commonly emerge as the primary factors underlying the present-day status of populations and communities; within the last 2 million years, climate change has rarely been sufficient to drive major extinction pulses absent other human pressures, which are now manifold. Young fossil records also provide rigorous access to the baseline composition and dynamics of modern-day biota under pre-Industrial conditions, where insights include the millennial-scale persistence of community structures, the dominant role of physical environmental conditions rather than biotic interactions in determining community composition and disassembly, and the existence of naturally alternating states. PMID:25901315

  18. Relict endemism of extant Rhineuridae (Amphisbaenia): testing for phylogenetic niche conservatism in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Hipsley, Christy A; Mller, Johannes

    2014-03-01

    Rhineurid amphisbaenians are represented by a rich Cenozoic fossil record in North America, but today conisist of a single living species restricted to the Florida Peninsula. Such relict endemism may be the result of phylogenetic niche conservatism (PNC), the retention of ancestral traits preventing expansion into new environments. Most tests of PNC derive ancestral niche preferences from species' extant ecologies, while ignoring valuable paleontological information. To test if PNC contributes to the restricted distribution of modern Rhineura floridana, we compare the species' current environmental preferences (temperature, precipitation and soil) to paleoenvironmental data from the rhineurid fossil record. We find no evidence of PNC in modern R. floridana, as it also occurred in Florida during drier glacial periods. Ancient rhineurids also exhibit tolerance to changing climates, having undergone a shift from subtropical-humid to semi-arid savanna conditions during the Eocene-Oligocene transition. However, rhineurids nearly disappear from North America after the middle Miocene, potentially due to the onset of prolonged freezing temperatures following the mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum. This physiological limit of environmental tolerances could be interpreted as PNC for the entire family, but also characterizes much of Amphisbaenia, emphasizing the relevance of the temporal as well as phylogenetic scale at which PNC is investigated. PMID:24482295

  19. Biology in the Anthropocene: Challenges and insights from young fossil records

    PubMed Central

    Kidwell, Susan M.

    2015-01-01

    With overwhelming evidence of change in habitats, biologists today must assume that few, if any, study areas are natural and that biological variability is superimposed on trends rather than stationary means. Paleobiological data from the youngest sedimentary record, including death assemblages actively accumulating on modern land surfaces and seabeds, provide unique information on the status of present-day species, communities, and biomes over the last few decades to millennia and on their responses to natural and anthropogenic environmental change. Key advances have established the accuracy and resolving power of paleobiological information derived from naturally preserved remains and of proxy evidence for environmental conditions and sample age so that fossil data can both implicate and exonerate human stressors as the drivers of biotic change and permit the effects of multiple stressors to be disentangled. Legacy effects from Industrial and even pre-Industrial anthropogenic extirpations, introductions, (de)nutrification, and habitat conversion commonly emerge as the primary factors underlying the present-day status of populations and communities; within the last 2 million years, climate change has rarely been sufficient to drive major extinction pulses absent other human pressures, which are now manifold. Young fossil records also provide rigorous access to the baseline composition and dynamics of modern-day biota under pre-Industrial conditions, where insights include the millennial-scale persistence of community structures, the dominant role of physical environmental conditions rather than biotic interactions in determining community composition and disassembly, and the existence of naturally alternating states. PMID:25901315

  20. Changes to the Fossil Record of Insects through Fifteen Years of Discovery.

    PubMed

    Nicholson, David B; Mayhew, Peter J; Ross, Andrew J

    2015-01-01

    The first and last occurrences of hexapod families in the fossil record are compiled from publications up to end-2009. The major features of these data are compared with those of previous datasets (1993 and 1994). About a third of families (>400) are new to the fossil record since 1994, over half of the earlier, existing families have experienced changes in their known stratigraphic range and only about ten percent have unchanged ranges. Despite these significant additions to knowledge, the broad pattern of described richness through time remains similar, with described richness increasing steadily through geological history and a shift in dominant taxa, from Palaeoptera and Polyneoptera to Paraneoptera and Holometabola, after the Palaeozoic. However, after detrending, described richness is not well correlated with the earlier datasets, indicating significant changes in shorter-term patterns. There is reduced Palaeozoic richness, peaking at a different time, and a less pronounced Permian decline. A pronounced Triassic peak and decline is shown, and the plateau from the mid Early Cretaceous to the end of the period remains, albeit at substantially higher richness compared to earlier datasets. Origination and extinction rates are broadly similar to before, with a broad decline in both through time but episodic peaks, including end-Permian turnover. Origination more consistently exceeds extinction compared to previous datasets and exceptions are mainly in the Palaeozoic. These changes suggest that some inferences about causal mechanisms in insect macroevolution are likely to differ as well. PMID:26176667

  1. Molecular decay of the tooth gene Enamelin (ENAM) mirrors the loss of enamel in the fossil record of placental mammals.

    PubMed

    Meredith, Robert W; Gatesy, John; Murphy, William J; Ryder, Oliver A; Springer, Mark S

    2009-09-01

    Vestigial structures occur at both the anatomical and molecular levels, but studies documenting the co-occurrence of morphological degeneration in the fossil record and molecular decay in the genome are rare. Here, we use morphology, the fossil record, and phylogenetics to predict the occurrence of "molecular fossils" of the enamelin (ENAM) gene in four different orders of placental mammals (Tubulidentata, Pholidota, Cetacea, Xenarthra) with toothless and/or enamelless taxa. Our results support the "molecular fossil" hypothesis and demonstrate the occurrence of frameshift mutations and/or stop codons in all toothless and enamelless taxa. We then use a novel method based on selection intensity estimates for codons (omega) to calculate the timing of iterated enamel loss in the fossil record of aardvarks and pangolins, and further show that the molecular evolutionary history of ENAM predicts the occurrence of enamel in basal representatives of Xenarthra (sloths, anteaters, armadillos) even though frameshift mutations are ubiquitous in ENAM sequences of living xenarthrans. The molecular decay of ENAM parallels the morphological degeneration of enamel in the fossil record of placental mammals and provides manifest evidence for the predictive power of Darwin's theory. PMID:19730686

  2. Testing the Molecular Clock Using the Best Fossil Record: Case Studies from the Planktic Foraminifera

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Steel, B. A.; Kucera, M.; Darling, K.

    2004-12-01

    Criticism of molecular clock studies often centres on inadequate calibration and a perceived lack of correlation between reproductive isolation and recognisable morphological evolution. Since many major groups (e.g. birds, mammals, reptiles) have a poor fossil record, it is often difficult to test and refute these limitations. Planktic foraminifera represent an exception to this rule. Deep-sea sediments are super-abundant in foraminifera, and large numbers of specimens and occurrences are easily garnered from Ocean Drilling Programme cores. Planktic foraminifera therefore represent an ideal model group with which to test and refine molecular clock studies. Since the 1990AAA_sAA_zAs, genetic sequences (principally 18S r-RNA) have been extracted from living planktic foraminifera, and a large genetic library has developed. Our study attempts to contextualise and test molecular data, particularly AAA_sAA<"molecular clockAAA_sAA_zA dates, utilising material from two ODP cores (Site 926A (Atlantic) and 806 (Pacific), to examine the evolutionary history of two sibling-species complexes (Globigerinella siphonifera and Globigerinoides ruber, both common shallow-water species and both of considerable palaeoceanographic utility). Recent genetic studies have suggested that these two AAA_sAA<"super-speciesAAA_sAA_zA in fact consist of a number of isolated forms, with contrasting ecologies and longevities, which in Recent and sub-Recent sediments can be distinguished either on the basis of pore ultrastructure (Gl. siphonifera) or test colouration (Gs. ruber). In both cases, molecular clock estimates are indicative of ancient (7-11 Ma) intra-species cryptic divergences, which seem to be considerably older than fossil dates. In particular, the calculated molecular split between the two forms of Gs. ruber (AAA_sAA<"whiteAAA_sAA_zA and AAA_sAA<"pinkAAA_sAA_zA) of around 11 Ma is considerably discordant with the fossil date of around 0.7 Ma. At first glance, this may appear to be a classic case of molecular over-estimation, often a feature of clock models, especially where, as in the foraminifera, substitution rates may vary widely. However, there is good reason to suspect that fossil range of the derived AAA_sAA<"pinkAAA_sAA_zA form may have been artificially truncated by diagenetic degradation of the meta-stable test pigmentation. The deep molecular splits for Gl. siphonifera (around 7 Ma for the two main morphologically distinguishable sub-types), whilst not so obviously at odds with the fossil record, still belie the very small amount of morphological evolution observed within the plexus. We have used morphometric methods on a large (over 2000 pooled specimens) dataset in an effort to independently test the molecular clock, using SEM-based measurement of pore metrics (for Gl. siphonifera) and a multivariate analysis of whole-test characteristics (for Gs. ruber). Comparison of results for the two species suggests interesting patterns; whilst the two cryptic sub-types of Gl. siphonifera seemingly can be traced through time and seem to respond to external oceanographic forcing, the sub-types of Gs. ruber appear to be truly cryptic, and cannot be distinguished in the fossil record beyond 0.7 Ma. This raises two important points; firstly, the molecular clock (at least for foraminifera) bears considerable scrutiny, appears to be relatively robust to substitution bias and is seemingly broadly in accordance with morphological data; and secondly, the relationship between form and function in planktic foraminifera appears to be ill-defined, raising important questions for functional morphology.

  3. Calcification and Silicification: Fossilization Potential of Cyanobacteria from Stromatolites of Niuafo‘ou's Caldera Lakes (Tonga) and Implications for the Early Fossil Record

    PubMed Central

    Kazmierczak, Józef; Łukomska-Kowalczyk, Maja; Kempe, Stephan

    2012-01-01

    Abstract Calcification and silicification processes of cyanobacterial mats that form stromatolites in two caldera lakes of Niuafo‘ou Island (Vai Lahi and Vai Si‘i) were evaluated, and their importance as analogues for interpreting the early fossil record are discussed. It has been shown that the potential for morphological preservation of Niuafo‘ou cyanobacteria is highly dependent on the timing and type of mineral phase involved in the fossilization process. Four main modes of mineralization of cyanobacteria organic parts have been recognized: (i) primary early postmortem calcification by aragonite nanograins that transform quickly into larger needle-like crystals and almost totally destroy the cellular structures, (ii) primary early postmortem silicification of almost intact cyanobacterial cells that leave a record of spectacularly well-preserved cellular structures, (iii) replacement by silica of primary aragonite that has already recrystallized and obliterated the cellular structures, (iv) occasional replacement of primary aragonite precipitated in the mucopolysaccharide sheaths and extracellular polymeric substances by Al-Mg-Fe silicates. These observations suggest that the extremely scarce earliest fossil record may, in part, be the result of (a) secondary replacement by silica of primary carbonate minerals (aragonite, calcite, siderite), which, due to recrystallization, had already annihilated the cellular morphology of the mineralized microbiota or (b) relatively late primary silicification of already highly degraded and no longer morphologically identifiable microbial remains. Key Words: Stromatolites—Cyanobacteria—Calcification—Silicification—Niuafo‘ou (Tonga)—Archean. Astrobiology 12, 535–548. PMID:22794297

  4. Calcification and silicification: fossilization potential of cyanobacteria from stromatolites of Niuafo'ou's Caldera Lakes (Tonga) and implications for the early fossil record.

    PubMed

    Kremer, Barbara; Kazmierczak, Józef; Lukomska-Kowalczyk, Maja; Kempe, Stephan

    2012-06-01

    Calcification and silicification processes of cyanobacterial mats that form stromatolites in two caldera lakes of Niuafo'ou Island (Vai Lahi and Vai Si'i) were evaluated, and their importance as analogues for interpreting the early fossil record are discussed. It has been shown that the potential for morphological preservation of Niuafo'ou cyanobacteria is highly dependent on the timing and type of mineral phase involved in the fossilization process. Four main modes of mineralization of cyanobacteria organic parts have been recognized: (i) primary early postmortem calcification by aragonite nanograins that transform quickly into larger needle-like crystals and almost totally destroy the cellular structures, (ii) primary early postmortem silicification of almost intact cyanobacterial cells that leave a record of spectacularly well-preserved cellular structures, (iii) replacement by silica of primary aragonite that has already recrystallized and obliterated the cellular structures, (iv) occasional replacement of primary aragonite precipitated in the mucopolysaccharide sheaths and extracellular polymeric substances by Al-Mg-Fe silicates. These observations suggest that the extremely scarce earliest fossil record may, in part, be the result of (a) secondary replacement by silica of primary carbonate minerals (aragonite, calcite, siderite), which, due to recrystallization, had already annihilated the cellular morphology of the mineralized microbiota or (b) relatively late primary silicification of already highly degraded and no longer morphologically identifiable microbial remains. PMID:22794297

  5. A 300-million-year record of atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil plant cuticles.

    PubMed

    Retallack, G J

    2001-05-17

    To understand better the link between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate over geological time, records of past CO2 are reconstructed from geochemical proxies. Although these records have provided us with a broad picture of CO2 variation throughout the Phanerozoic eon (the past 544 Myr), inconsistencies and gaps remain that still need to be resolved. Here I present a continuous 300-Myr record of stomatal abundance from fossil leaves of four genera of plants that are closely related to the present-day Ginkgo tree. Using the known relationship between leaf stomatal abundance and growing season CO2 concentrations, I reconstruct past atmospheric CO2 concentrations. For the past 300 Myr, only two intervals of low CO2 (<1,000 p.p.m.v.) are inferred, both of which coincide with known ice ages in Neogene (1-8 Myr) and early Permian (275-290 Myr) times. But for most of the Mesozoic era (65-250 Myr), CO2 levels were high (1,000-2,000 p.p.m.v.), with transient excursions to even higher CO2 (>2,000 p.p.m.v.) concentrations. These results are consistent with some reconstructions of past CO2 (refs 1, 2) and palaeotemperature records, but suggest that CO2 reconstructions based on carbon isotope proxies may be compromised by episodic outbursts of isotopically light methane. These results support the role of water vapour, methane and CO2 in greenhouse climate warming over the past 300 Myr. PMID:11357126

  6. A 300-million-year record of atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil plant cuticles

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Retallack, Gregory J.

    2001-05-01

    To understand better the link between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate over geological time, records of past CO2 are reconstructed from geochemical proxies. Although these records have provided us with a broad picture of CO2 variation throughout the Phanerozoic eon (the past 544Myr), inconsistencies and gaps remain that still need to be resolved. Here I present a continuous 300-Myr record of stomatal abundance from fossil leaves of four genera of plants that are closely related to the present-day Ginkgo tree. Using the known relationship between leaf stomatal abundance and growing season CO2 concentrations, I reconstruct past atmospheric CO2 concentrations. For the past 300Myr, only two intervals of low CO2 (<1,000p.p.m.v.) are inferred, both of which coincide with known ice ages in Neogene (1-8Myr) and early Permian (275-290Myr) times. But for most of the Mesozoic era (65-250Myr), CO2 levels were high (1,000-2,000p.p.m.v.), with transient excursions to even higher CO2 (>2,000p.p.m.v.) concentrations. These results are consistent with some reconstructions of past CO2 (refs 1, 2) and palaeotemperature records, but suggest that CO2 reconstructions based on carbon isotope proxies may be compromised by episodic outbursts of isotopically light methane. These results support the role of water vapour, methane and CO2 in greenhouse climate warming over the past 300Myr.

  7. The taphonomy of unmineralised Palaeozoic fossils preserved as siliciclastic moulds and casts, and their utility in assessing the interaction between environmental change and the fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    MacGabhann, Breandán; Schiffbauer, James; Hagadorn, James; Van Roy, Peter; Lynch, Edward; Morrsion, Liam; Murray, John

    2015-04-01

    The enhanced preservation potential of biomineralised tissues in fossil organisms is a key factor in their utility in the investigation of palaeoenvironmental change on fossil ecosystems. By contrast, the considerably lower preservation potential of entirely unmineralised organisms severely reduces the utility of their temporal and spatial distribution in such analyses. However, understanding the taphonomic processes which lead to the preservation of such soft-bodied fossils may be an under-appreciated source of information, particularly in the case of specimens preserved as moulds and casts in coarser siliciclastic sediments. This information potential is well demonstrated by fossil eldonids, a Cambrian to Devonian clade of unmineralised asymmetrical discoidal basal or stem deuterostomes, with an apparently conservative biology and no clear palaeoenvironmental or biogeographical controls on their distribution. We investigated the taphonomic processes involved in the preservation of fossil eldonids as moulds and casts on bedding surfaces and within event beds from sandstones of the Ordovician Tafilalt lagerstätte in south-eastern Morocco, and from siltstones of the Devonian West Falls Group of New York, USA. Laser Raman microspectroscopy, SEM BSE imaging and EDS elemental mapping of fossil specimens reveals that moulded biological surfaces are coated by a fossil surface veneer primarily consisting of mixed iron oxides and oxyhydroxides (including pseudomorphs after pyrite), and aluminosilicate clay minerals. Moreover, comparison to fossil eldonids preserved as carbonaceous compressions in the Burgess Shale reveals that the biological structures preserved in the Tafilalt and New York specimens - the dorsal surface and a coiled sac containing the digestive tract - represent only specific portions of the anatomy of the complete animal. We suggest that the preserved remains were the only parts of these eldonid organisms composed primarily of complex organic biopolymers, and that these tissues were preferentially fossilised by the formation of an early diagenic mould directly on the organic surfaces. Excess divalent iron ions, produced during decay of more labile tissues by means of bacterial iron reduction, would have adsorbed to anionic functional groups in the biopolymeric tissues. This would have provided a ready substrate for the formation and growth of such an early diagenic mineralised mould, including aluminosilicate minerals produced via reaction with seawater silica and metal ions, and iron sulphide minerals produced via reaction with hydrogen sulphide and free sulphur produced from seawater sulphate through bacterial sulphate reduction associated with further decay. Subsequent weathering would have oxidised such iron sulphides to oxides and oxyhydroxides. This taphonomic model supports the lack of utility of the eldonid palaeobiological record in analysing environmental influence on biological communities, due to the lack of preservation of key anatomical components. However, it also suggests that the very occurrence of fossils preserved in this style is dependent on extrinsic palaeoenvironmental factors - including pH, Eh, and the concentration of other ions in the contemporaneous seawater. Analyses of the distribution of fossils preserved in this style may therefore provide information on ambient conditions which may have affected the distribution of contemporaneous mineralised fossils, potentially allowing a more complete analysis of the effects of palaeoenvironmental change on fossil ecosystems.

  8. Filamentous fabrics in low-temperature mineral assemblages: are they fossil biomarkers? Implications for the search for a subsurface fossil record on the early Earth and Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hofmann, B. A.; Farmer, J. D.

    2000-09-01

    The subsurface has been recognized as a possible habitat for microbial life on Mars. An analogous fossil record of subsurface life is nearly missing on Earth. Here we present evidence of the widespread occurrence of such a record: tubular filamentous structures with typical core diameters of 1- 2 μm were found as inclusions in minerals deposited from low- T (<100°C) aqueous fluids in subsurface environments at >140 localities worldwide. Filaments are frequently organized in composite structures with architectures similar to microbial mats. Filaments thickly encrusted by minerals exhibit gravity-oriented structures of macroscopic dimensions that are similar to stalactites. Environments of formation are sites of low- T water circulation in macroporous rocks such as volcanics, oxidized ores, limestone solution cavities and cavernous macrofossils. The age of occurrence ranges from Precambrian to Subrecent. We interpret the filamentous structures as permineralized and encrusted microbial filaments based on the following arguments: tubular construction of filaments with constant core diameters typical of microbes ( 1.5±1.1 μm), coalescence of filaments to form mat-like structures, gravity draping of micron-thin filaments indicating an originally flexible consistency, and restriction to low- T mineral assemblages. These filamentous structures formed in subsurface environments are similar in size, morphology and construction to fossilized microbes observed in modern terrestrial and marine thermal springs. This newly recognized fossil record of subterranean microbial life opens up new perspectives in the study of the paleobiology of the terrestrial subsurface and in the exploration for fossil life on Mars. Potential host rocks on Mars include major nonsedimentary units such as volcanics and impactites.

  9. Insect-damaged fossil leaves record food web response to ancient climate change and extinction.

    PubMed

    Wilf, P

    2008-01-01

    Plants and herbivorous insects have dominated terrestrial ecosystems for over 300 million years. Uniquely in the fossil record, foliage with well-preserved insect damage offers abundant and diverse information both about producers and about ecological and sometimes taxonomic groups of consumers. These data are ideally suited to investigate food web response to environmental perturbations, and they represent an invaluable deep-time complement to neoecological studies of global change. Correlations between feeding diversity and temperature, between herbivory and leaf traits that are modulated by climate, and between insect diversity and plant diversity can all be investigated in deep time. To illustrate, I emphasize recent work on the time interval from the latest Cretaceous through the middle Eocene (67-47 million years ago (Ma)), including two significant events that affected life: the end-Cretaceous mass extinction (65.5 Ma) and its ensuing recovery; and globally warming temperatures across the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (55.8 Ma). Climatic effects predicted from neoecology generally hold true in these deep-time settings. Rising temperature is associated with increased herbivory in multiple studies, a result with major predictive importance for current global warming. Diverse floras are usually associated with diverse insect damage; however, recovery from the end-Cretaceous extinction reveals uncorrelated plant and insect diversity as food webs rebuilt chaotically from a drastically simplified state. Calibration studies from living forests are needed to improve interpretation of the fossil data. PMID:18331425

  10. Stable isotope-based Plio-Pleistocene ecosystem reconstruction of some of the earliest hominid fossil sites in the East African Rift System (Chiwondo Beds, N Malawi)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lüdecke, Tina; Thiemeyer, Heinrich; Schrenk, Friedemann; Mulch, Andreas

    2014-05-01

    The isotope geochemistry of pedogenic carbonate and fossil herbivore enamel is a powerful tool to reconstruct paleoenvironmental conditions in particular when climate change plays a key role in the evolution of ecosystems. Here, we present the first Plio-Pleistocene long-term carbon (δ13C), oxygen (δ18O) and clumped isotope (Δ47) records from pedogenic carbonate and herbivore teeth in the Malawi Rift. These data represent an important southern hemisphere record in the East African Rift System (EARS), a key region for reconstructing vegetation patterns in today's Zambezian Savanna and correlation with data on the evolution and migration of early hominids across the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. As our study site is situated between the well-known hominid-bearing sites of eastern and southern Africa in the Somali-Masai Endemic Zone and Highveld Grassland it fills an important geographical gap for early hominid research. 5.0 to 0.6 Ma fluviatile and lacustrine deposits of the Chiwondo Beds (NE shore of Lake Malawi) comprise abundant pedogenic carbonate and remains of a diverse fauna dominated by large terrestrial mammals. These sediments are also home to two hominid fossil remains, a mandible of Homo rudolfensis and a maxillary fragment of Paranthropus boisei, both dated around 2.4 Ma. The Chiwondo Beds therefore document early co-existence of these two species. We evaluate δ13C data from fossil enamel of different suid, bovid, and equid species and contrast these with δ13C and δ18O values of pedogenic carbonate. We complement the latter with clumped isotope soil temperature data. Results of almost 800 pedogenic carbonate samples from over 20 sections consistently average δ13C = -8.5 ‰ over the past 5 Ma with no significant short-term δ13C excursions or long-term trends. The data from molar tooth enamel of nine individual suids of the genera Metridiochoerus, Notochoerus and Nyanzachoerus support these findings with average δ13C = -10.0 ‰. The absence of long-term trends towards more positive δ13C values contrasts the increasing role of C4-grasslands in the southern EARS which is well documented for sites in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. Our data hence point to regional differences in climate and vegetation dynamics during the Plio-Pleistocene in the EARS and documents persistence of paleoenvironmental conditions in the southern branch of the EARS at times of early hominid evolution.

  11. Fossil invertebrates records in cave sediments and paleoenvironmental assessments - a study of four cave sites from Romanian Carpathians

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moldovan, O. T.; Constantin, S.; Panaiotu, C.; Roban, R. D.; Frenzel, P.; Miko, L.

    2016-01-01

    Fossil invertebrates from cave sediments have been recently described as a potential new proxy for paleoenvironment and used in cross-correlations with alternate proxy records from cave deposits. Here we present the results of a fossil invertebrates study in four caves from two climatically different regions of the Romanian Carpathians, to complement paleoenvironmental data previously reported. Oribatid mites and ostracods are the most common invertebrates in the studied cave sediments. Some of the identified taxa are new to science, and most of them are indicative for either warm and/or cold stages or dry and/or wetter oscillations. In two caves the fossil invertebrates records indicate rapid climate oscillations during times known for a relatively stable climate. By corroborating the fossil invertebrates' record with the information given by magnetic properties and sediment structures, complementary data on past vegetation, temperatures and hydraulic regimes could be gathered. This paper analyzes the potential of fossil invertebrate records as a paleoenvironmental proxy, potential problems and pitfalls.

  12. Hominin cognitive evolution: identifying patterns and processes in the fossil and archaeological record.

    PubMed

    Shultz, Susanne; Nelson, Emma; Dunbar, Robin I M

    2012-08-01

    As only limited insight into behaviour is available from the archaeological record, much of our understanding of historical changes in human cognition is restricted to identifying changes in brain size and architecture. Using both absolute and residual brain size estimates, we show that hominin brain evolution was likely to be the result of a mix of processes; punctuated changes at approximately 100 kya, 1 Mya and 1.8 Mya are supplemented by gradual within-lineage changes in Homo erectus and Homo sapiens sensu lato. While brain size increase in Homo in Africa is a gradual process, migration of hominins into Eurasia is associated with step changes at approximately 400 kya and approximately 100 kya. We then demonstrate that periods of rapid change in hominin brain size are not temporally associated with changes in environmental unpredictability or with long-term palaeoclimate trends. Thus, we argue that commonly used global sea level or Indian Ocean dust palaeoclimate records provide little evidence for either the variability selection or aridity hypotheses explaining changes in hominin brain size. Brain size change at approximately 100 kya is coincident with demographic change and the appearance of fully modern language. However, gaps remain in our understanding of the external pressures driving encephalization, which will only be filled by novel applications of the fossil, palaeoclimatic and archaeological records. PMID:22734056

  13. Hominin cognitive evolution: identifying patterns and processes in the fossil and archaeological record

    PubMed Central

    Shultz, Susanne; Nelson, Emma; Dunbar, Robin I. M.

    2012-01-01

    As only limited insight into behaviour is available from the archaeological record, much of our understanding of historical changes in human cognition is restricted to identifying changes in brain size and architecture. Using both absolute and residual brain size estimates, we show that hominin brain evolution was likely to be the result of a mix of processes; punctuated changes at approximately 100 kya, 1 Mya and 1.8 Mya are supplemented by gradual within-lineage changes in Homo erectus and Homo sapiens sensu lato. While brain size increase in Homo in Africa is a gradual process, migration of hominins into Eurasia is associated with step changes at approximately 400 kya and approximately 100 kya. We then demonstrate that periods of rapid change in hominin brain size are not temporally associated with changes in environmental unpredictability or with long-term palaeoclimate trends. Thus, we argue that commonly used global sea level or Indian Ocean dust palaeoclimate records provide little evidence for either the variability selection or aridity hypotheses explaining changes in hominin brain size. Brain size change at approximately 100 kya is coincident with demographic change and the appearance of fully modern language. However, gaps remain in our understanding of the external pressures driving encephalization, which will only be filled by novel applications of the fossil, palaeoclimatic and archaeological records. PMID:22734056

  14. Origin of the Eumetazoa: testing ecological predictions of molecular clocks against the Proterozoic fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Peterson, Kevin J.; Butterfield, Nicholas J.

    2005-01-01

    Molecular clocks have the potential to shed light on the timing of early metazoan divergences, but differing algorithms and calibration points yield conspicuously discordant results. We argue here that competing molecular clock hypotheses should be testable in the fossil record, on the principle that fundamentally new grades of animal organization will have ecosystem-wide impacts. Using a set of seven nuclear-encoded protein sequences, we demonstrate the paraphyly of Porifera and calculate sponge/eumetazoan and cnidarian/bilaterian divergence times by using both distance [minimum evolution (ME)] and maximum likelihood (ML) molecular clocks; ME brackets the appearance of Eumetazoa between 634 and 604 Ma, whereas ML suggests it was between 867 and 748 Ma. Significantly, the ME, but not the ML, estimate is coincident with a major regime change in the Proterozoic acritarch record, including: (i) disappearance of low-diversity, evolutionarily static, pre-Ediacaran acanthomorphs; (ii) radiation of the high-diversity, short-lived Doushantuo-Pertatataka microbiota; and (iii) an order-of-magnitude increase in evolutionary turnover rate. We interpret this turnover as a consequence of the novel ecological challenges accompanying the evolution of the eumetazoan nervous system and gut. Thus, the more readily preserved microfossil record provides positive evidence for the absence of pre-Ediacaran eumetazoans and strongly supports the veracity, and therefore more general application, of the ME molecular clock.

  15. New Eocene Coleoid (Cephalopoda) Diversity from Statolith Remains: Taxonomic Assignation, Fossil Record Analysis, and New Data for Calibrating Molecular Phylogenies

    PubMed Central

    Neige, Pascal; Lapierre, Hervé; Merle, Didier

    2016-01-01

    New coleoid cephalopods are described from statolith remains from the Middle Eocene (Middle Lutetian) of the Paris Basin. Fifteen fossil statoliths are identified and assigned to the Sepiidae (Sepia boletzkyi sp. nov.,? Sepia pira sp. nov.), Loliginidae (Loligo clarkei sp. nov.), and Ommastrephidae (genus indet.) families. The sediments containing these fossils indicate permanent aquatic settings in the infralittoral domain. These sediments range in age from 46 Mya to 43 Mya. Analysis of the fossil record of statoliths (from findings described here, together with a review of previously published data) indicates marked biases in our knowledge. Fossil statoliths are known from as far back as the Early Jurassic (199.3 to 190.8 Mya) but surprisingly, to the best of our knowledge, no record occurs in the Cretaceous. This is a “knowledge bias” and clearly calls for further studies. Finally, we attempt to compare findings described here with fossils previously used to constrain divergence and/or diversification ages of some coleoid subclades in molecular phylogenies. This comparison clearly indicates that the new records detailed here will challenge some estimated divergence times of coleoid cephalopod subclades. PMID:27192490

  16. Evidence for periodicity and nonlinearity in a high-resolution fossil record of long-term evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Prokoph, Andreas; Fowler, Anthony D.; Patterson, R. Timothy

    2000-10-01

    The application of new signal analysis techniques provides increased insight into the study of the fossil record and processes of evolution. The fossil record of 622 planktic foraminifera contains data from 200 stratigraphic stages of the past 127 m.y. Time-series analyses (wavelet and Fourier transform) of the planktic foraminifera fossil record were used to discern periodic components in long-term evolution. The correlation function analysis was used to distinguish between random and deterministic behavior of the fossil record. The analyses show that stationary 30 m.y. periodicity and complex deterministic patterns occur in the long-term planktic foraminifera evolution, in particular in the extinction record. Our results suggest that the occurrence of intense diversity fluctuations with 3 10 m.y. periodicity after major extinction events may be attributed to nonlinear, self-organized evolutionary response to the availability of new ecospace. This coupled nonlinear-periodic scenario may explain the repetitive appearance of similar morphotypes in 30 m.y. intervals.

  17. Recording of climate and diagenesis through sedimentary DNA and fossil pigments at Laguna Potrok Aike, Argentina

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vuillemin, Aurèle; Ariztegui, Daniel; Leavitt, Peter R.; Bunting, Lynda; The Pasado Science Team

    2016-04-01

    Aquatic sediments record past climatic conditions while providing a wide range of ecological niches for microorganisms. In theory, benthic microbial community composition should depend on environmental features and geochemical conditions of surrounding sediments, as well as ontogeny of the subsurface environment as sediment degraded. In principle, DNA in sediments should be composed of ancient and extant microbial elements persisting at different degrees of preservation, although to date few studies have quantified the relative influence of each factor in regulating final composition of total sedimentary DNA assemblage. Here geomicrobiological and phylogenetic analyses of a Patagonian maar lake were used to indicate that the different sedimentary microbial assemblages derive from specific lacustrine regimes during defined climatic periods. Two climatic intervals (Mid-Holocene, 5 ka BP; Last Glacial Maximum, 25 ka BP) whose sediments harbored active microbial populations were sampled for a comparative environmental study based on fossil pigments and 16S rRNA gene sequences. The genetic assemblage recovered from the Holocene record revealed a microbial community displaying metabolic complementarities that allowed prolonged degradation of organic matter to methane. The series of Archaea identified throughout the Holocene record indicated an age-related stratification of these populations brought on by environmental selection during early diagenesis. These characteristics were associated with sediments resulting from endorheic lake conditions and stable pelagic regime, high evaporative stress and concomitant high algal productivity. In contrast, sulphate-reducing bacteria and lithotrophic Archaea were predominant in sediments dated from the Last Glacial Maximum, in which pelagic clays alternated with fine volcanic material characteristic of a lake level highstand and freshwater conditions, but reduced water column productivity. Comparison of sedimentary DNA composition with that of fossil pigments suggested that post-depositional diagenesis resulted in a rapid change in the initial nucleic acid composition and overprint of phototrophic communities by heterotrophic assemblages with preserved pigment compositions. Long DNA sequences (1400-900 bp) appeared to derive from intact bacterial cells, whereas short fragments (290-150 bp) reflected extracellular DNA accumulation in ancient sediments. We conclude that sedimentary DNA obtained from lacustrine deposits provides essential genetic information to complement paleoenvironmental indicators and trace post-depositional diagenetic processes over tens of millennia. However, it remains difficult to estimate the time lag between original deposition of lacustrine sediments and establishment of the final composition of the sedimentary DNA assemblage.

  18. Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation recorded in fossil corals during the last Interglacial

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vàsquez-Bedoya, L.; Cohen, A. L.; Oppo, D.; Thompson, W. G.; Blanchon, P.

    2013-05-01

    The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a mode of sea surface temperature variability occurring in the North Atlantic Ocean, whose warm phase correlates strongly with Atlantic hurricane activity. While support for this mode originates in historical observations and models, controversy exists with regard to the attribution of sea surface temperature change to natural or anthropogenic forcing. Previously, we showed that long-lived colonies of the massive Caribbean coral Siderastrea siderea (Ellis & Solander, 1786) on the Yucatan Peninsula capture AMO-like variability in their annual growth bands (Vásquez-Bedoya et al., 2012) allowing us to extend the record of Atlantic multidecadal variability back to 1775 AD. Here we report an analysis of skeletal growth bands of a fossil coral of the same species, dated by U-series (122.24±0.19 kyr) to the Last Interglacial (LIG). MultiTaper spectral analysis of the LIG coral record reveals significant concentrations of power (99% confidence level) at intervals centered at 45-67 and 50-67 years respectively, consistent with the AMO spectrum, which is centered in intervals of 60-70 years. Thus our analysis provides the first evidence of AMO mode during the LIG and supports the hypotheses of a persistent, naturally-forced multidecadal mode of SST variability in the North Atlantic.

  19. The Ediacaran emergence of bilaterians: congruence between the genetic and the geological fossil records.

    PubMed

    Peterson, Kevin J; Cotton, James A; Gehling, James G; Pisani, Davide

    2008-04-27

    Unravelling the timing of the metazoan radiation is crucial for elucidating the macroevolutionary processes associated with the Cambrian explosion. Because estimates of metazoan divergence times derived from molecular clocks range from quite shallow (Ediacaran) to very deep (Mesoproterozoic), it has been difficult to ascertain whether there is concordance or quite dramatic discordance between the genetic and geological fossil records. Here, we show using a range of molecular clock methods that the major pulse of metazoan divergence times was during the Ediacaran, which is consistent with a synoptic reading of the Ediacaran macrobiota. These estimates are robust to changes in priors, and are returned with or without the inclusion of a palaeontologically derived maximal calibration point. Therefore, the two historical records of life both suggest that although the cradle of Metazoa lies in the Cryogenian, and despite the explosion of ecology that occurs in the Cambrian, it is the emergence of bilaterian taxa in the Ediacaran that sets the tempo and mode of macroevolution for the remainder of geological time. PMID:18192191

  20. Two new fossil genera and species of Cerocephalinae (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Pteromalidae), including the first record from the Eocene

    PubMed Central

    Bläser, Marcel; Krogmann, Lars; Peters, Ralph S.

    2015-01-01

    Abstract Cerocephalinae (Chalcidoidea, Pteromalidae) is a small group of parasitoid wasps characterized by a number of derived diagnostic features. Their hosts are endophytic beetles. So far, 43 species of Cerocephalinae have been described, including one fossil species from the Miocene. In this study, we add two new genera and species from Baltic and Dominican amber to the fossil record. Tenuicornus dominicus gen. et sp. n. is the second genus described from Dominican amber, and Pteropilosa lailarabanorum gen. et sp. n., described from Baltic amber, represents the oldest record of the subfamily, pushing the minimum age of Cerocephalinae back to the Eocene. Diagnostic characters of both species are discussed in comparison with other Cerocephalinae. An updated key to extant and fossil Cerocephalinae is presented. PMID:26798296

  1. Fossil spiders.

    PubMed

    Selden, Paul A; Penney, David

    2010-02-01

    Over the last three decades, the fossil record of spiders has increased from being previously biased towards Tertiary ambers and a few dubious earlier records, to one which reveals a much greater diversity in the Mesozoic, with many of the modern families present in that era, and with clearer evidence of the evolutionary history of the group. We here record the history of palaeoarachnology and the major breakthroughs which form the basis of studies on fossil spiders. Understanding the preservation and taphonomic history of spider fossils is crucial to interpretation of fossil spider morphology. We also review the more recent descriptions of fossil spiders and the effect these discoveries have had on the phylogenetic tree of spiders. We discuss some features of the evolutionary history of spiders and present ideas for future work. PMID:19961468

  2. Introducing Evolution to Non-Biology Majors via the Fossil Record: A Case Study from the Israeli High School System.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Dodick, Jeff; Orion, Nir

    2003-01-01

    Discusses challenges faced in the teaching and learning of evolution. Presents a curricular program and a case study on evolutionary biology. Investigates students' conceptual knowledge after exposure to the program "From Dinosaurs to Darwin," which focuses on fossil records as evidence of evolution. (Contains 32 references.) (YDS)

  3. Piscivory in a Miocene Cetotheriidae of Peru: first record of fossilized stomach content for an extinct baleen-bearing whale

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Collareta, Alberto; Landini, Walter; Lambert, Olivier; Post, Klaas; Tinelli, Chiara; Di Celma, Claudio; Panetta, Daniele; Tripodi, Maria; Salvadori, Piero A.; Caramella, Davide; Marchi, Damiano; Urbina, Mario; Bianucci, Giovanni

    2015-12-01

    Instead of teeth, modern mysticetes bear hair-fringed keratinous baleen plates that permit various bulk-filtering predation techniques (from subsurface skimming to lateral benthic suction and engulfment) devoted to various target prey (from small invertebrates to schooling fish). Current knowledge about the feeding ecology of extant cetaceans is revealed by stomach content analyses and observations of behavior. Unfortunately, no fossil stomach contents of ancient mysticetes have been described so far; the investigation of the diet of fossil baleen whales, including the Neogene family Cetotheriidae, remains thus largely speculative. We report on an aggregate of fossil fish remains found within a mysticete skeleton belonging to an undescribed late Miocene (Tortonian) cetotheriid from the Pisco Formation (Peru). Micro-computed tomography allowed us to interpret it as the fossilized content of the forestomach of the host whale and to identify the prey as belonging to the extant clupeiform genus Sardinops. Our discovery represents the first direct evidence of piscivory in an ancient edentulous mysticete. Since among modern mysticetes only Balaenopteridae are known to ordinarily consume fish, this fossil record may indicate that part of the cetotheriids experimented some degree of balaenopterid-like engulfment feeding. Moreover, this report corresponds to one of the geologically oldest records of Sardinops worldwide, occurring near the Tortonian peak of oceanic primary productivity and cooling phase. Therefore, our discovery evokes a link between the rise of Cetotheriidae; the setup of modern coastal upwelling systems; and the radiation of epipelagic, small-sized, schooling clupeiform fish in such highly productive environments.

  4. Caught in the act: the first record of copulating fossil vertebrates

    PubMed Central

    Joyce, Walter G.; Micklich, Norbert; Schaal, Stephan F. K.; Scheyer, Torsten M.

    2012-01-01

    The behaviour of fossil organisms can typically be inferred only indirectly, but rare fossil finds can provide surprising insights. Here, we report from the Eocene Messel Pit Fossil Site between Darmstadt and Frankfurt, Germany numerous pairs of the fossil carettochelyid turtle Allaeochelys crassesculpta that represent for the first time among fossil vertebrates couples that perished during copulation. Females of this taxon can be distinguished from males by their relatively shorter tails and development of plastral kinesis. The preservation of mating pairs has important taphonomic implications for the Messel Pit Fossil Site, as it is unlikely that the turtles would mate in poisonous surface waters. Instead, the turtles initiated copulation in habitable surface waters, but perished when their skin absorbed poisons while sinking into toxic layers. The mating pairs from Messel are therefore more consistent with a stratified, volcanic maar lake with inhabitable surface waters and a deadly abyss. PMID:22718955

  5. A multi-calibrated mitochondrial phylogeny of extant Bovidae (Artiodactyla, Ruminantia) and the importance of the fossil record to systematics

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background Molecular phylogenetics has provided unprecedented resolution in the ruminant evolutionary tree. However, molecular age estimates using only one or a few (often misapplied) fossil calibration points have produced a diversity of conflicting ages for important evolutionary events within this clade. I here identify 16 fossil calibration points of relevance to the phylogeny of Bovidae and Ruminantia and use these, individually and together, to construct a dated molecular phylogeny through a reanalysis of the full mitochondrial genome of over 100 ruminant species. Results The new multi-calibrated tree provides ages that are younger overall than found in previous studies. Among these are young ages for the origin of crown Ruminantia (39.3–28.8 Ma), and crown Bovidae (17.3–15.1 Ma). These are argued to be reasonable hypotheses given that many basal fossils assigned to these taxa may in fact lie on the stem groups leading to the crown clades, thus inflating previous age estimates. Areas of conflict between molecular and fossil dates do persist, however, especially with regard to the base of the rapid Pecoran radiation and the sister relationship of Moschidae to Bovidae. Results of the single-calibrated analyses also show that a very wide range of molecular age estimates are obtainable using different calibration points, and that the choice of calibration point can influence the topology of the resulting tree. Compared to the single-calibrated trees, the multi-calibrated tree exhibits smaller variance in estimated ages and better reflects the fossil record. Conclusions The use of a large number of vetted fossil calibration points with soft bounds is promoted as a better approach than using just one or a few calibrations, or relying on internal-congruency metrics to discard good fossil data. This study also highlights the importance of considering morphological and ecological characteristics of clades when delimiting higher taxa. I also illustrate how phylogeographic and paleoenvironmental hypotheses inferred from a tree containing only extant taxa can be problematic without consideration of the fossil record. Incorporating the fossil record of Ruminantia is a necessary step for future analyses aiming to reconstruct the evolutionary history of this clade. PMID:23927069

  6. Modelling African aerosol using updated fossil fuel and biofuel emission inventories for 2005 and 2030

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liousse, C.; Penner, J. E.; Assamoi, E.; Xu, L.; Criqui, P.; Mima, S.; Guillaume, B.; Rosset, R.

    2010-12-01

    A regional fossil fuel and biofuel emission inventory for particulates has been developed for Africa at a resolution of 0.25° x 0.25° for the year 2005. The original database of Junker and Liousse (2008) was used after modification for updated regional fuel consumption and emission factors. Consumption data were corrected after direct inquiries conducted in Africa, including a new emitter category (i.e. two-wheel vehicles including “zemidjans”) and a new activity sector (i.e. power plants) since both were not considered in the previous emission inventory. Emission factors were measured during the 2005 AMMA campaign (Assamoi and Liousse, 2010) and combustion chamber experiments. Two prospective inventories for 2030 are derived based on this new regional inventory and two energy consumption forecasts by the Prospective Outlook on Long-term Energy Systems (POLES) model (Criqui, 2001). The first is a reference scenario, where no emission controls beyond those achieved in 2003 are taken into account, and the second is for a "clean" scenario where possible and planned policies for emission control are assumed to be effective. BC and OCp emission budgets for these new inventories will be discussed and compared to the previous global dataset. These new inventories along with the most recent open biomass burning inventory (Liousse et al., 2010) have been tested in the ORISAM-TM5 global chemistry-climate model with a focus over Africa at a 1° x 1° resolution. Global simulations for BC and primary OC for the years 2005 and 2030 are carried out and the modelled particulate concentrations for 2005 are compared to available measurements in Africa. Finally, BC and OC radiative properties (aerosol optical depths and single scattering albedo) are calculated and the direct radiative forcing is estimated using an off line model (Wang and Penner, 2009). Results of sensitivity tests driven with different emission scenarios will be presented.

  7. Anatomical Correlates to Nectar Feeding among the Strepsirrhines of Madagascar: Implications for Interpreting the Fossil Record

    PubMed Central

    Muchlinski, Magdalena N.; Perry, Jonathan M. G.

    2011-01-01

    One possible ecological scenario for the origin of primates is the archaic pollination and coevolution hypothesis. Its proponents contend that the consumption of nectar by some early primates and the resulting cross-pollination is an example of coevolution that drove adaptive radiations in some primates. This hypothesis is perhaps ecologically sound, but it lacks the morphology-behavior links that would allow us to test it using the fossil record. Here we attempt to identify cranial adaptations to nectar feeding among the strepsirrhines of Madagascar in order to provide such links. Many Malagasy strepsirrhines are considered effective cross-pollinators of the flowers they feed from, and nectar consumption represents as much as 75% of total feeding time. Previous studies identified skeletal correlates to nectar feeding in the crania of nonprimate mammals; from these, nine cranial measurements were chosen to be the focus of the present study. Results indicate that Cheirogaleus, Varecia, and Eulemur mirror other nectar-feeding mammals in having elongated crania and/or muzzles. These strepsirrhines might be effective cross-pollinators, lending support to the coevolution hypothesis. PMID:22567292

  8. Cell symbiosis [correction of symbioisis] theory: status and implications for the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Margulis, L; Stolz, J F

    1984-01-01

    Recent geological treatises have presented three alternative models of the origins of eukaryotes as if they merited equal treatment. However, modern biological techniques, especially nucleic acid and protein sequencing, have clearly established the validity of the symbiotic theory of the origin of eukaryotic organelles. The serial endosymbiotic theory in its most extreme form states that three classes of eukaryotic cell organelles (mitochondria, plastids and undulipodia) originated as free-living bacteria (aerobic respirers, phototrophic bacteria and spirochetes respectively) in association with hosts that become the nucleocytoplasm (Thermoplasma-like archaebacterial hosts). Molecular biological information, primarily derived from ribosomal RNA nucleotide sequencing studies leads to the conclusion that the symbiotic origin theory for both mitochondria and plastids has been proven. The probability of an ancestral archaebacterial-Thermoplasma-like host for the nucleocytoplasm has been rendered more likely by discoveries by Dennis Searcy and his colleagues and Carl Woese and his colleagues. The most equivocal postulate of the symbiotic theory, the origin of undulipodia (cilia and other organelles of motility that develop from kinetosomes is under investigation now. The status of these postulates, as well as their implications for the fossil record, is briefly summarized here. PMID:11537775

  9. Species-energy relationship in the deep sea: A test using the Quaternary fossil record

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hunt, G.; Cronin, T. M.; Roy, K.

    2005-01-01

    Little is known about the processes regulating species richness in deep-sea communities. Here we take advantage of natural experiments involving climate change to test whether predictions of the species-energy hypothesis hold in the deep sea. In addition, we test for the relationship between temperature and species richness predicted by a recent model based on biochemical kinetics of metabolism. Using the deep-sea fossil record of benthic foraminifera and statistical meta-analyses of temperature-richness and productivity-richness relationships in 10 deep-sea cores, we show that temperature but not productivity is a significant predictor of species richness over the past c. 130 000 years. Our results not only show that the temperature-richness relationship in the deep-sea is remarkably similar to that found in terrestrial and shallow marine habitats, but also that species richness tracks temperature change over geological time, at least on scales of c. 100 000 years. Thus, predicting biotic response to global climate change in the deep sea would require better understanding of how temperature regulates the occurrences and geographical ranges of species. ??2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

  10. Colloquium paper: dynamics of origination and extinction in the marine fossil record.

    PubMed

    Alroy, John

    2008-08-12

    The discipline-wide effort to database the fossil record at the occurrence level has made it possible to estimate marine invertebrate extinction and origination rates with much greater accuracy. The new data show that two biotic mechanisms have hastened recoveries from mass extinctions and confined diversity to a relatively narrow range over the past 500 million years (Myr). First, a drop in diversity of any size correlates with low extinction rates immediately afterward, so much so that extinction would almost come to a halt if diversity dropped by 90%. Second, very high extinction rates are followed by equally high origination rates. The two relationships predict that the rebound from the current mass extinction will take at least 10 Myr, and perhaps 40 Myr if it rivals the Permo-Triassic catastrophe. Regardless, any large event will result in a dramatic ecological and taxonomic restructuring of the biosphere. The data also confirm that extinction and origination rates both declined through the Phanerozoic and that several extinctions in addition to the Permo-Triassic event were particularly severe. However, the trend may be driven by taxonomic biases and the rates vary in accord with a simple log normal distribution, so there is no sharp distinction between background and mass extinctions. Furthermore, the lack of any significant autocorrelation in the data is inconsistent with macroevolutionary theories of periodicity or self-organized criticality. PMID:18695240

  11. Climate refugia: joint inference from fossil records, species distribution models and phylogeography.

    PubMed

    Gavin, Daniel G; Fitzpatrick, Matthew C; Gugger, Paul F; Heath, Katy D; Rodríguez-Sánchez, Francisco; Dobrowski, Solomon Z; Hampe, Arndt; Hu, Feng Sheng; Ashcroft, Michael B; Bartlein, Patrick J; Blois, Jessica L; Carstens, Bryan C; Davis, Edward B; de Lafontaine, Guillaume; Edwards, Mary E; Fernandez, Matias; Henne, Paul D; Herring, Erin M; Holden, Zachary A; Kong, Woo-seok; Liu, Jianquan; Magri, Donatella; Matzke, Nicholas J; McGlone, Matt S; Saltré, Frédérik; Stigall, Alycia L; Tsai, Yi-Hsin Erica; Williams, John W

    2014-10-01

    Climate refugia, locations where taxa survive periods of regionally adverse climate, are thought to be critical for maintaining biodiversity through the glacial-interglacial climate changes of the Quaternary. A critical research need is to better integrate and reconcile the three major lines of evidence used to infer the existence of past refugia - fossil records, species distribution models and phylogeographic surveys - in order to characterize the complex spatiotemporal trajectories of species and populations in and out of refugia. Here we review the complementary strengths, limitations and new advances for these three approaches. We provide case studies to illustrate their combined application, and point the way towards new opportunities for synthesizing these disparate lines of evidence. Case studies with European beech, Qinghai spruce and Douglas-fir illustrate how the combination of these three approaches successfully resolves complex species histories not attainable from any one approach. Promising new statistical techniques can capitalize on the strengths of each method and provide a robust quantitative reconstruction of species history. Studying past refugia can help identify contemporary refugia and clarify their conservation significance, in particular by elucidating the fine-scale processes and the particular geographic locations that buffer species against rapidly changing climate. PMID:25039238

  12. On the development of probabilistic climate reconstructions based on fossil pollen records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schoelzel, C.; Hense, A.

    2009-04-01

    Past climate reconstructions based on proxy data help to understand natural climate variability. It is essential that palaeoenvironmental transfer functions between climate and proxy variables take in to account the stochastical nature of the climate system. Especially pollen based reconstructions are a complex issue, since pollen counts do not show direct relation to climatological parameters, e.g. due to plant competition and/or land cultivation. The idea is to assess the background knowledge from classical, more empirically based methods in order to develop statistical transfer functions between vegetation and climate. Two popular concepts, the indicator taxa approach (or MCR) as well as the biomisation (BIOME/PFT), are translated into a statistical framework in order to reconstruct January and July temperatures as well as annual precipitation during the Holocene (10,000yrs BP). This involves the problem of multivariate random vectors with non-normally distributed marginals, which has been adressed by using copulas. The methods are applied to fossil pollen records of laminated sediments from the Eifel region in Germany. On the one hand, the reconstructions indicate that pollen based reconstructions show larger uncertainty ranges than expected by several classical approaches. On the other hand, the indicator taxa approach is robust to the lack of modern analogues, which is an advantage in highly anthropogenically influenced areas such as the Mediterranean or Central Europe.

  13. Fossil bryophytes as recorders of ancient CO2 levels: Experimental evidence and a Cretaceous case study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fletcher, Benjamin J.; Beerling, David J.; Brentnall, Stuart J.; Royer, Dana L.

    2005-09-01

    Biological and geochemical CO2 proxies provide critical constraints on understanding the role of atmospheric CO2 in driving climate change during Earth history. As no single existing CO2 proxy is without its limitations, there is a clear need for new approaches to reconstructing past CO2 concentrations. Here we develop a new pre-Quaternary CO2 proxy based on the stable carbon isotope composition (δ13C) of astomatous land plants. In a series of CO2-controlled laboratory experiments, we show that the carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) of a range of bryophyte (liverwort and moss) species increases with atmospheric CO2 across the range 375 to 6000 ppm. Separate experiments establish that variations in growth temperature, water content and substrate type have minor impacts on the Δ13C of liverworts but not mosses, indicating the greater potential of liverworts to faithfully record past variations in CO2. A mechanistic model for calculating past CO2 concentrations from bryophyte Δ13C (White et al., 1994) is extended and calibrated using our experimental results. The potential for fossil liverworts to record past CO2 changes is investigated by analyzing the δ13C of specimens collected from Alexander Island, Antarctica dating to the "greenhouse" world of the mid-Cretaceous. Our analysis and isotopic model yield mid-Cretaceous CO2 concentrations of 1000-1400 ppm, in general agreement with independent proxy data and long-term carbon cycle models. The exceptionally long evolutionary history of bryophytes offers the possibility of reconstructing CO2 concentrations back to the mid-Ordovician, pre-dating all currently used quantitative CO2 proxies.

  14. Recording of climate and diagenesis through fossil pigments and sedimentary DNA at Laguna Potrok Aike, Argentina

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vuillemin, A.; Ariztegui, D.; Leavitt, P. R.; Bunting, L.; Pasado Science Team

    2015-11-01

    Aquatic sediments record past climatic conditions while providing a wide range of ecological niches for microorganisms. Although marine sedimentary microbial assemblages are often defined by their surrounding geochemical conditions, the influence of environmental features upon microbial development and post-depositional survival remains largely unknown in the lacustrine realm. Due to long-term microbial activity, the composition of environmental DNA can be expected to evolve with sediment depth and over time and therefore should reflect both ancient and extant microbial populations, but this hypothesis has rarely been tested using a multiproxy approach. Here geomicrobiological and phylogenetic analyses of a Patagonian maar lake were used to indicate that the different sedimentary microbial assemblages derive from specific lacustrine regimes during defined climatic periods. Two well defined climatic intervals whose sediments harboured active microbial populations and measurable ATP were sampled for a comparative environmental study based on fossil pigments and 16S rRNA gene sequences. Bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences recovered from the Holocene record revealed a microbial community adapted to subsaline conditions actively producing methane during organic matter degradation. These characteristics were associated with sediments resulting from endorheic lake conditions with high evaporative stress and concomitant high algal productivity. Moreover, archaeal clone libraries established throughout the Holocene record indicate an age-related stratification of these populations, consistent with a gradual use of organic substrates after deposition. In contrast, sulphate-reducing bacteria and lithotrophic Archaea were predominant in sediments dated from the Last Glacial Maximum, in which pelagic clays alternated with fine volcanic material characteristic of a lake level highstand and freshwater conditions, but reduced water column productivity. These patterns reveal that microbial assemblages identified from environmental DNA stemmed from a variety of sedimentary niches associated with climate-dependent factors (catchment inflows, water column conditions, productivity), but that initial assemblages underwent structural changes and selective preservation during early diagenesis to result in the final composition entombed in the sediments. We conclude that environmental DNA obtained from lacustrine sediments provides essential genetic information to complement paleoenvironmental indicators and trace climate change and post-depositional diagenetic processes over tens of millennia.

  15. Decay of vertebrate characters in hagfish and lamprey (Cyclostomata) and the implications for the vertebrate fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Sansom, Robert S.; Gabbott, Sarah E.; Purnell, Mark A.

    2011-01-01

    The timing and sequence of events underlying the origin and early evolution of vertebrates remains poorly understood. The palaeontological evidence should shed light on these issues, but difficulties in interpretation of the non-biomineralized fossil record make this problematic. Here we present an experimental analysis of decay of vertebrate characters based on the extant jawless vertebrates (Lampetra and Myxine). This provides a framework for the interpretation of the anatomy of soft-bodied fossil vertebrates and putative cyclostomes, and a context for reading the fossil record of non-biomineralized vertebrate characters. Decay results in transformation and non-random loss of characters. In both lamprey and hagfish, different types of cartilage decay at different rates, resulting in taphonomic bias towards loss of soft cartilages containing vertebrate-specific Col2?1 extracellular matrix proteins; phylogenetically informative soft-tissue characters decay before more plesiomorphic characters. As such, synapomorphic decay bias, previously recognized in early chordates, is more pervasive, and needs to be taken into account when interpreting the anatomy of any non-biomineralized fossil vertebrate, such as Haikouichthys, Mayomyzon and Hardistiella. PMID:20947532

  16. A critical reappraisal of the fossil record of the bilaterian phyla.

    PubMed

    Budd, G E; Jensen, S

    2000-05-01

    It has long been assumed that the extant bilaterian phyla generally have their origin in the Cambrian explosion, when they appear in an essentially modern form. Both these assumptions are questionable. A strict application of stem- and crown-group concepts to phyla shows that although the branching points of many clades may have occurred in the Early Cambrian or before, the appearance of the modern body plans was in most cases later: very few bilaterian phyla sensu stricto have demonstrable representatives in the earliest Cambrian. Given that the early branching points of major clades is an inevitable result of the geometry of clade diversification, the alleged phenomenon of phyla appearing early and remaining morphologically static is seen not to require particular explanation. Confusion in the definition of a phylum has thus led to attempts to explain (especially from a developmental perspective) a feature that is partly inevitable, partly illusory. We critically discuss models for Proterozoic diversification based on small body size, limited developmental capacity and poor preservation and cryptic habits, and show that the prospect of lineage diversification occurring early in the Proterozoic can be seen to be unlikely on grounds of both parsimony and functional morphology. Indeed, the combination of the body and trace fossil record demonstrates a progressive diversification through the end of the Proterozoic well into the Cambrian and beyond, a picture consistent with body plans being assembled during this time. Body-plan characters are likely to have been acquired monophyletically in the history of the bilaterians, and a model explaining the diversity in just one of them, the coelom, is presented. This analysis points to the requirement for a careful application of systematic methodology before explanations are sought for alleged patterns of constraint and flexibility. PMID:10881389

  17. Evolutionary innovations in the fossil record: the intersection of ecology, development, and macroevolution.

    PubMed

    Jablonski, David

    2005-11-15

    The origins of evolutionary innovations have been intensively studied, but relatively little is known about their large-scale ecological patterns. For post-Paleozoic benthic marine invertebrates, which have the richest and most densely sampled fossil record, order-level taxa tend to appear first in onshore, disturbed habitats, even in groups that are now exclusively deep-water (so that present-day distributions are not reliable indicators of original environments). New results presented here show that the onshore-origination pattern is robust to shifts in taxonomic methods and to new paleontological discoveries, and the few available studies suggest that this pattern can also be seen in terms of excursions in morphospace or the acquisition of derived character states, without reference to taxonomic categories. The environmental pattern at high levels contrasts significantly with the origin of low-level novelties (such as defined genera and families) in crinoids, echinoids, and bryozoans, where first appearances tend to conform to their clade-specific bathymetric diversity gradients. This discordance seems to eliminate potential driving mechanisms that simply scale up within-population genetic or ecological processes. Little is known about the factors that promote the onshore-offshore expansion of orders across the continental shelf, or that drive some clades to abandon ancestral habitats for an exclusively deep-water distribution. The origin of evolutionary innovation must ultimately reside in developmental changes, but the onshore-origination bias could emerge from two different dynamics: the pattern could be primarily genetic and developmental, i.e., innovations truly arise onshore; or primarily ecological, i.e., innovations arise randomly but preferentially survive onshore. Whatever the ultimate driving mechanisms, these macroevolutionary patterns show that theories of large-scale evolutionary novelty must include an ecological dimension. PMID:16161067

  18. Trace metals as biomarkers for eumelanin pigment in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Wogelius, R A; Manning, P L; Barden, H E; Edwards, N P; Webb, S M; Sellers, W I; Taylor, K G; Larson, P L; Dodson, P; You, H; Da-qing, L; Bergmann, U

    2011-09-16

    Well-preserved fossils of pivotal early bird and nonavian theropod species have provided unequivocal evidence for feathers and/or downlike integuments. Recent studies have reconstructed color on the basis of melanosome structure; however, the chemistry of these proposed melanosomes has remained unknown. We applied synchrotron x-ray techniques to several fossil and extant organisms, including Confuciusornis sanctus, in order to map and characterize possible chemical residues of melanin pigments. Results show that trace metals, such as copper, are present in fossils as organometallic compounds most likely derived from original eumelanin. The distribution of these compounds provides a long-lived biomarker of melanin presence and density within a range of fossilized organisms. Metal zoning patterns may be preserved long after melanosome structures have been destroyed. PMID:21719643

  19. Palaeontology: The Point of No Return in the Fossil Record of Eusociality.

    PubMed

    Rust, Jes; Wappler, Torsten

    2016-02-22

    The evolution of eusociality is one of the major transitions in the history of life, particularly in the insects. Now, fossil termites and ants from Burmese amber offer insights into early stages of eusociality in the Lower Cretaceous. PMID:26906485

  20. A long-term association between global temperature and biodiversity, origination and extinction in the fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Mayhew, Peter J; Jenkins, Gareth B; Benton, Timothy G

    2007-01-01

    The past relationship between global temperature and levels of biological diversity is of increasing concern due to anthropogenic climate warming. However, no consistent link between these variables has yet been demonstrated. We analysed the fossil record for the last 520 Myr against estimates of low latitude sea surface temperature for the same period. We found that global biodiversity (the richness of families and genera) is related to temperature and has been relatively low during warm ‘greenhouse’ phases, while during the same phases extinction and origination rates of taxonomic lineages have been relatively high. These findings are consistent for terrestrial and marine environments and are robust to a number of alternative assumptions and potential biases. Our results provide the first clear evidence that global climate may explain substantial variation in the fossil record in a simple and consistent manner. Our findings may have implications for extinction and biodiversity change under future climate warming. PMID:17956842

  1. Eocene to Miocene Southern Ocean Circulation: Neodymium Records from Fossil Fish Teeth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Scher, H. D.; Martin, E. E.

    2003-04-01

    The Eocene to Miocene was a period of dramatic changes to ocean circulation, which have been linked to major shifts in global climate. Evolution of the Southern Ocean had a powerful influence over patterns of ocean circulation during this time. Pre-Miocene seawater Nd isotope records, proxies for water mass used to reconstruct paleocean circulation, are poorly represented in the Southern Ocean. Here we supplement the small, but growing, Nd isotope database with two long-term Nd records from fossil fish teeth in ODP sites 689 (Maud Rise, 2080 m) and 1090 (Aghulas Ridge, 3702 m), both located in the Southern Ocean. ɛ{Nd} values from site 689 range from -8 at 35 Ma to -9.1 at 20 Ma. The intermediate water mass at this site was at least 1 ɛ{Nd} lower than the deep water mass at site 1090 throughout the late Eocene to early Miocene with the exception of a brief interval at ˜26 Ma, when increasing values at site 689 overlap with decreasing values at site 1090. Site 1090 ɛ{Nd} values are dominated by a decreasing trend during the Oligocene when ɛ{Nd} values of -6.5 at 28.5 Ma decrease to -8.5 by 22 Ma. This long-term trend is punctuated by a rapid negative oscillation of 2 ɛ{Nd} at ˜26 Ma and a rapid positive oscillation of 1 ɛ{Nd} at ˜23 Ma. ɛ{Nd} values at site 1090 then increase by 1 ɛ{Nd} during the early to mid-Miocene. Together sites 689 and 1090 illustrate an ɛ{Nd} depth profile that becomes more radiogenic with depth, which is opposite to the present-day Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. This gradient persists through the late Eocene to Miocene except at ˜26 Ma when the difference in ɛ{Nd} between the two sites diminishes to .4, suggesting a water mass between -8.1 and -8.5 ɛ{Nd} at both sites. Tethyan waters have been characterized as having ɛ{Nd} in this range during the Oligocene/Miocene. A brief pulse of Warm Saline Bottom Water emanating from the Tethyan region may be responsible for rapid oscillations in Southern Ocean Nd records. The coincidence of these oscillations with the Late Oligocene Warming event (˜26 Ma) recognized in global δ18O records (including site 689) supports this interpretation. The only known potential source of radiogenic water necessary to bring ɛ{Nd} values at site 1090 as high as -6.5 were Pacific source waters which ranged from -6.5 to -4 in the Oligocene/Miocene. We believe that site 1090 Nd isotopes provide evidence for transport of Pacific seawater through the Drake Passage by at least 28.5 Ma. Nonradiogenic ɛ{Nd} values at site 689 are consistent with the presence of an intermediate to deep water mass sourced near Antarctica.

  2. †Kenyaichthyidae fam. nov. and †Kenyaichthys gen. nov. - First Record of a Fossil Aplocheiloid Killifish (Teleostei, Cyprinodontiformes).

    PubMed

    Altner, Melanie; Reichenbacher, Bettina

    2015-01-01

    The extant Cyprinodontiformes (killifishes) with their two suborders Cyprinodontoidei and Aplocheiloidei represent a diverse and well-studied group of fishes. However, their fossil record is comparatively sparse and has so far yielded members of the Cyprinodontoidei only. Here we report on cyprinodontiform fossils from the upper Miocene Lukeino Formation in the Tugen Hills of the Central Rift Valley of Kenya, which represent the first fossil record of an aplocheiloid killifish. A total of 169 specimens - mostly extraordinarily well preserved - and a sample of ten extant cyprinodontiform species were studied on the basis of morphometrics, meristics and osteology. A phylogenetic analysis using PAUP was also conducted for the fossils. Both the osteological data and the phylogenetic analysis provide strong evidence for the assignment of the fossils to the Aplocheiloidei, and justify the definition of the new family †Kenyaichthyidae, the new genus †Kenyaichthys and the new species †K. kipkechi sp. nov. The phylogenetic analysis unexpectedly places †Kenyaichthys gen. nov. in a sister relationship to the Rivulidae (a purely Neotropical group), a probable explanation might be lack of available synapomorphies for the Rivulidae, Nothobranchiidae and Aplocheilidae. The specimens of †K. kipkechi sp. nov. show several polymorphic characters and large overlap in meristic traits, which justifies their interpretation as a species flock in statu nascendi. Patterns of variation in neural and haemal spine dimensions in the caudal vertebrae of †Kenyaichthys gen. nov. and the extant species studied indicate that some previously suggested synapomorphies of the Cyprinodontoidei and Aplocheiloidei need to be revised. PMID:25923654

  3. Piscivory in a Miocene Cetotheriidae of Peru: first record of fossilized stomach content for an extinct baleen-bearing whale.

    PubMed

    Collareta, Alberto; Landini, Walter; Lambert, Olivier; Post, Klaas; Tinelli, Chiara; Di Celma, Claudio; Panetta, Daniele; Tripodi, Maria; Salvadori, Piero A; Caramella, Davide; Marchi, Damiano; Urbina, Mario; Bianucci, Giovanni

    2015-12-01

    Instead of teeth, modern mysticetes bear hair-fringed keratinous baleen plates that permit various bulk-filtering predation techniques (from subsurface skimming to lateral benthic suction and engulfment) devoted to various target prey (from small invertebrates to schooling fish). Current knowledge about the feeding ecology of extant cetaceans is revealed by stomach content analyses and observations of behavior. Unfortunately, no fossil stomach contents of ancient mysticetes have been described so far; the investigation of the diet of fossil baleen whales, including the Neogene family Cetotheriidae, remains thus largely speculative. We report on an aggregate of fossil fish remains found within a mysticete skeleton belonging to an undescribed late Miocene (Tortonian) cetotheriid from the Pisco Formation (Peru). Micro-computed tomography allowed us to interpret it as the fossilized content of the forestomach of the host whale and to identify the prey as belonging to the extant clupeiform genus Sardinops. Our discovery represents the first direct evidence of piscivory in an ancient edentulous mysticete. Since among modern mysticetes only Balaenopteridae are known to ordinarily consume fish, this fossil record may indicate that part of the cetotheriids experimented some degree of balaenopterid-like engulfment feeding. Moreover, this report corresponds to one of the geologically oldest records of Sardinops worldwide, occurring near the Tortonian peak of oceanic primary productivity and cooling phase. Therefore, our discovery evokes a link between the rise of Cetotheriidae; the setup of modern coastal upwelling systems; and the radiation of epipelagic, small-sized, schooling clupeiform fish in such highly productive environments. PMID:26553062

  4. Late Cretaceous Extreme Polar Warmth recorded by Vertebrate Fossils from the High Canadian Arctic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vandermark, D.; Tarduno, J. A.; Brinkman, D.

    2006-12-01

    A vertebrate fossil assemblage from Late Cretaceous (Coniacian-Turonian, ~92 to 86 Ma) rocks on Axel Heiberg Island in the High Canadian Arctic reflects what was once a diverse community of freshwater fishes and reptiles. Paleomagnetic data indicate a paleolatitude of ~71° N for the site; the fossils are from non-migratory fauna, so they can provide insight into Late Cretaceous polar climate. The fossil assemblage includes large (> 2.4 m long) champsosaurs (extinct crocodilelike reptiles). The presence of large champsosaurs suggests a mean annual temperature > 14 °C (and perhaps as great as 25 °C). Here we summarize findings and analyses following the discovery of the fossil-bearing strata in 1996. Examination of larger fish elements, isolated teeth and SEM studies of microstructures indicates the presence of lepisosteids, amiids and teleosts (Friedman et al., 2003) Interestingly, the only other known occurrence of amiids and lepisosteids, fossil or recent, are from intervals of extreme warmth during the Tertiary. Turtles present in the assemblage include Boreralochelys axelheibergensis, a generically indeterminate eucryptodire and a trioychid (Brinkman and Tarduno, 2005). The level of turtle diversity is also comparable to mid-latitude assemblages with a mean annual paleotemperature of at least 14 °C. A large portion of the champsosaur fossil assemblage is comprised of elements from subadults. This dominance of subadults is similar to that seen from low latitude sites. Because of the sensitivity of juveniles to ice formation, the make-up of the Arctic champsosaur population further indicates that the Late Cretaceous saw an interval of extreme warmth and low seasonality. We note the temporal coincidence of these fossils with volcanism at large igneous provinces (including high Arctic volcanism) and suggest that a pulse in volcanic carbon dioxide emissions helped cause the global warmth.

  5. Late Paleocene fossils from the Cerrejón Formation, Colombia, are the earliest record of Neotropical rainforest

    PubMed Central

    Wing, Scott L.; Herrera, Fabiany; Jaramillo, Carlos A.; Gómez-Navarro, Carolina; Wilf, Peter; Labandeira, Conrad C.

    2009-01-01

    Neotropical rainforests have a very poor fossil record, making hypotheses concerning their origins difficult to evaluate. Nevertheless, some of their most important characteristics can be preserved in the fossil record: high plant diversity, dominance by a distinctive combination of angiosperm families, a preponderance of plant species with large, smooth-margined leaves, and evidence for a high diversity of herbivorous insects. Here, we report on an ≈58-my-old flora from the Cerrejón Formation of Colombia (paleolatitude ≈5 °N) that is the earliest megafossil record of Neotropical rainforest. The flora has abundant, diverse palms and legumes and similar family composition to extant Neotropical rainforest. Three-quarters of the leaf types are large and entire-margined, indicating rainfall >2,500 mm/year and mean annual temperature >25 °C. Despite modern family composition and tropical paleoclimate, the diversity of fossil pollen and leaf samples is 60–80% that of comparable samples from extant and Quaternary Neotropical rainforest from similar climates. Insect feeding damage on Cerrejón fossil leaves, representing primary consumers, is abundant, but also of low diversity, and overwhelmingly made by generalist feeders rather than specialized herbivores. Cerrejón megafossils provide strong evidence that the same Neotropical rainforest families have characterized the biome since the Paleocene, maintaining their importance through climatic phases warmer and cooler than present. The low diversity of both plants and herbivorous insects in this Paleocene Neotropical rainforest may reflect an early stage in the diversification of the lineages that inhabit this biome, and/or a long recovery period from the terminal Cretaceous extinction. PMID:19833876

  6. Ghost shrimp Calliax de Saint Laurent, 1973 (Decapoda: Axiidea: Callianassidae) in the fossil record: systematics, palaeoecology and palaeobiogeography

    PubMed Central

    HYŽNÝ, MATÚŠ; GAŠPARIČ, ROK

    2015-01-01

    Ghost shrimps of the family Callianassidae are very common in the fossil record, but mostly as isolated cheliped elements only. The assignment to biologically defined genera, diagnosed on the basis of soft part morphology, is thus rather difficult. In this respect, proxy characters present on chelipeds that are the most durable ghost shrimp remains are needed to ascribe fossil material to extant genera. The genus Calliax de Saint Laurent, 1973 has been particularly obscure in this respect. Thorough comparison of extant members of the genus resulted in evaluation of characters present on chelipeds being taxonomically important on the genus level, specifically: 1) rectangular major P1 propodus with two ridges on the base of the fixed finger extending onto manus; 2) major P1 fingers relatively short; and 3) minor P1 chela with dactylus longer than fixed finger and possessing a wide gap between fingers. On this basis, Callianassa michelottii A. Milne Edwards, 1860, from the Oligocene and Miocene of Europe is herein reassigned to Calliax. Further re-examination of the ghost shrimp fossil record revealed that C. szobensis Müller, 1984, from the Middle Miocene of Hungary represents the same animal as C. michelottii and they are synomymised herein. The known geographic distribution of C. michelottii is expanded by the first confirmed occurrence of the species in Slovakia. All occurrences of C. michelottii known to date are reviewed and documented. The presence of Calliax michelottii comb. nov. may be considered an indicator of deeper marine settings. Based on the scarce fossil record known to date, Calliax has a Tethyan origin; it supposedly migrated westward to establish present day communities in the Caribbean sometime before the Middle Miocene. PMID:24989725

  7. Ghost shrimp Calliax de Saint Laurent, 1973 (Decapoda: Axiidea: Callianassidae) in the fossil record: systematics, palaeoecology and palaeobiogeography.

    PubMed

    Hyžný, Matúš; Gašparič, Rok

    2014-01-01

    Ghost shrimps of the family Callianassidae are very common in the fossil record, but mostly as isolated cheliped elements only. The assignment to biologically defined genera, diagnosed on the basis of soft part morphology, is thus rather difficult. In this respect, proxy characters present on chelipeds that are the most durable ghost shrimp remains are needed to ascribe fossil material to extant genera. The genus Calliax de Saint Laurent, 1973 has been particularly obscure in this respect. Thorough comparison of extant members of the genus resulted in evaluation of characters present on chelipeds being taxonomically important on the genus level, specifically: 1) rectangular major P1 propodus with two ridges on the base of the fixed finger extending onto manus; 2) major P1 fingers relatively short; and 3) minor P1 chela with dactylus longer than fixed finger and possessing a wide gap between fingers. On this basis, Callianassa michelottii A. Milne Edwards, 1860, from the Oligocene and Miocene of Europe is herein reassigned to Calliax. Further re-examination of the ghost shrimp fossil record revealed that C. szobensis Müller, 1984, from the Middle Miocene of Hungary represents the same animal as C. michelottii and they are synomymised herein. The known geographic distribution of C. michelottii is expanded by the first confirmed occurrence of the species in Slovakia. All occurrences of C. michelottii known to date are reviewed and documented. The presence of Calliax michelottii comb. nov. may be considered an indicator of deeper marine settings. Based on the scarce fossil record known to date, Calliax has a Tethyan origin; it supposedly migrated westward to establish present day communities in the Caribbean sometime before the Middle Miocene. PMID:24989725

  8. Molecular and isotopic composition of lipids in modern and fossil bivalve shells: Records of paleoenvironmental change?

    SciTech Connect

    CoBabe, E.A.

    1995-12-31

    Suites of lipids residing in situ in modern and fossil bivalve shells offer new possibilities for the study of paleoecology and paleoclimatology. Distributions of carbon isotopic compositions of modem shell lipids suggests that many of these compounds, including alkanes, sterols, fatty acids, ketones and phytadienes, are derived from the bivalves and not directly from the surrounding environment. The occurrence of fatty acids in modem and fossil shell material opens up the possibility that saturation levels of these compounds may be used as paleothermometers. To date, the utility of fatty acids in paleoclimate studies has been limited because of the swift breakdown of these compounds in sediment. However, initial results indicate that fatty acids in bivalve shells retain their original structure for at least several million years. Comparison of modem bivalve shell fatty acids from tropical, temperate and polar nearshore marine systems will be presented, along with analogous fossil data.

  9. Two Years of Plankton Tows in a Seasonal Upwelling Region: Foraminiferal Abundances and Implications for the Fossil Record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Davis, C. V.; Hill, T. M.; Jahncke, J.

    2014-12-01

    Planktic foraminifera have a long history of use as paleoceaographic proxies due to their environmental sensitivity, cosmopolitan distribution and extensive fossil record. The seasonal, spatial and water mass affinities of foraminifera species have implications for the interpretation of fossil assemblages and the interpretation of shell geochemistry. Two years (2012-2014) of shallow (<200 m) plankton tows, taken along the continental shelf inside the California Current system, offer new insights into the spatial and seasonal dynamics of planktic foraminifera in an upwelling regime. Tows along with intensive hydrologic monitoring by CTD casts and discrete bottle sampling (temperature, salinity, oxygen, thermocline depth, carbonate saturation state) have spanned two complete seasonal upwelling-relaxation cycles. We present the results from these tows as well as preliminary models linking environmental drivers and foraminifera assemblages in this highly dynamic environment. Species abundances appear to be highly seasonal, in keeping with water column structure, with a seasonal upwelling to relaxation trade off between the non-spinose foraminifers Neogloboquadrina pachyderma and Neogloboquadrina incompta. We focus on the implications of species seasonality and hydrologic affinities to the interpretation of the fossil record in upwelling regions.

  10. The First Occurrence in the Fossil Record of an Aquatic Avian Twig-Nest with Phoenicopteriformes Eggs: Evolutionary Implications

    PubMed Central

    Grellet-Tinner, Gerald; Murelaga, Xabier; Larrasoaña, Juan C.; Silveira, Luis F.; Olivares, Maitane; Ortega, Luis A.; Trimby, Patrick W.; Pascual, Ana

    2012-01-01

    Background We describe the first occurrence in the fossil record of an aquatic avian twig-nest with five eggs in situ (Early Miocene Tudela Formation, Ebro Basin, Spain). Extensive outcrops of this formation reveal autochthonous avian osteological and oological fossils that represent a single taxon identified as a basal phoenicopterid. Although the eggshell structure is definitively phoenicopterid, the characteristics of both the nest and the eggs are similar to those of modern grebes. These observations allow us to address the origin of the disparities between the sister taxa Podicipedidae and Phoenicopteridae crown clades, and traces the evolution of the nesting and reproductive environments for phoenicopteriforms. Methodology/Principal Findings Multi-disciplinary analyses performed on fossilized vegetation and eggshells from the eggs in the nest and its embedding sediments indicate that this new phoenicopterid thrived under a semi-arid climate in an oligohaline (seasonally mesohaline) shallow endorheic lacustine environment. High-end microcharacterizations including SEM, TEM, and EBSD techniques were pivotal to identifying these phoenicopterid eggshells. Anatomical comparisons of the fossil bones with those of Phoenicopteriformes and Podicipediformes crown clades and extinct palaelodids confirm that this avian fossil assemblage belongs to a new and basal phoenicopterid. Conclusions/Significance Although the Podicipediformes-Phoenicopteriformes sister group relationship is now well supported, flamingos and grebes exhibit feeding, reproductive, and nesting strategies that diverge significantly. Our multi-disciplinary study is the first to reveal that the phoenicopteriform reproductive behaviour, nesting ecology and nest characteristics derived from grebe-like type strategies to reach the extremely specialized conditions observed in modern flamingo crown groups. Furthermore, our study enables us to map ecological and reproductive characters on the Phoenicopteriformes evolutionary lineage. Our results demonstrate that the nesting paleoenvironments of flamingos were closely linked to the unique ecology of this locality, which is a direct result of special climatic (high evaporitic regime) and geological (fault system) conditions. PMID:23082136

  11. Extending the African instrumental record to the early 19th century

    SciTech Connect

    Nicholson, S.E.

    1997-11-01

    This paper describes progress toward the production of a data set that extends the African climate record back to the beginning of the 19th century. Qualitative documentary evidence, lake-level fluctuations and other proxy indicators are combined with historical rainfall records to produce regional time series. The data set has relatively high temporal and spatial resolution. The conceptualization is based on a climatic regionalization produced using modern data and an anomaly method in previous historical reconstructions. The data set provides information for some 100 regions with a 1 to 5 year resolution for most of the nineteenth century. Three to five quantitative classes of rainfall are utilized in the data set. Here, the available information to produce this record is summarized. The methodology utilized to combine proxy data and observations to produce a quantitative rainfall data set is described. This historical data set is compared with actual rainfall records for select regions where both are available. This comparison indicates the reliability of the proxy African data set. An analysis of the historical record indicates that the main characteristics of rainfall variability evident in the modern African record are also apparent in the 19th century record. 5 figs.

  12. The consequences of time averaging for measuring temporal species turnover in the fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tomašových, Adam; Kidwell, Susan

    2010-05-01

    Modeling time averaging effects with simple simulations allows us to evaluate the magnitude of change in temporal species turnover that is expected to occur in long (paleoecological) time series with fossil assemblages. Distinguishing different modes of metacommunity dynamics (such as neutral, density-dependent, or trade-off dynamics) with time-averaged fossil assemblages requires scaling-up time-averaging effects because the decrease in temporal resolution and the decrease in temporal inter-sample separation (i.e., the two main effects of time averaging) substantially increase community stability relative to assemblages without or with weak time averaging. Large changes in temporal scale that cover centuries to millennia can lead to unprecedented effects on temporal rate of change in species composition. Temporal variation in species composition monotonically decreases with increasing duration of time-averaging in simulated fossil assemblages. Time averaging is also associated with the reduction of species dominance owing to the temporal switching in the identity of dominant species. High degrees of time averaging can cause that community parameters of local fossil assemblages converge to parameters of metacommunity rather that to parameters of individual local non-averaged communities. We find that the low variation in species composition observed among mollusk and ostracod subfossil assemblages can be explained by time averaging alone, and low temporal resolution and reduced temporal separation among assemblages in time series can thus explain a substantial part of the reduced variation in species composition relative to unscaled predictions of neutral model (i.e., species do not differ in birth, death, and immigration rates on per capita basis). The structure of time-averaged assemblages can thus provide important insights into processes that act over larger temporal scales, such as evolution of niches and dispersal, range-limit dynamics, taxon cycles, and speciation modes.

  13. Sr isotopic composition of hydroxyapatite from recent and fossil salmon: the record of lifetime migration and diagenesis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Koch, Paul L.; Halliday, Alex N.; Walter, Lynn M.; Stearley, Ralph F.; Huston, Ted J.; Smith, Gerald R.

    1992-02-01

    By comparing the Sr isotopic composition of migratory fossil salmon, which lived in the ocean but died in continental regions, to the well established marine Sr isotopic record, the age of the continental deposit could be determined with high accuracy. This approach to marine-continental correlation and dating requires (1) that marine-resident salmon bear a marine 87Sr/ 86Sr value in their bones or teeth, and (2) that the original 87Sr/ 86Sr value of fossils is not overprinted by diagenesis. The vertebrae of modern, hatchery-reared salmon exhibit Sr isotopic variations indicative of freshwater to marine migration during bone growth. Modern marine 87Sr/ 86Sr values were preserved in growth layers formed later in life. Marine-phase growth layers in the bones and teeth of the late Miocene migratory salmon, Oncorhynchus rastrosus, were subjected to stepwise selective leaching to separate biogenic hydroxyapatite from diagenetic calcium carbonate and recrystallized hydroxyapatite. Although the procedure yielded leachates with Sr/Ca and Ca/P values characteristic of apatite, the leachates had 87Sr/ 86Sr values consistently less radiogenic than values for late Miocene seawater ( ⊃ 0.7087. The fossils were substantially contaminated by Sr from the hosting clastic sediments. Specimens in continental deposits differed in 87Sr/ 86Sr value from host sediments by 0.0002 to 0.0200, supporting the conclusion that these salmon were migrants from marine waters. However, because the original Sr isotopic composition of fossil bones and teeth cannot be determined with confidence, archaeological, paleobiological and stratigraphic applications of this technique may be limited.

  14. A Fossil DNA Based High Resolution Record of Holocene Planktonic Taxa and Environmental Change in the Black Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coolen, M. J.; Saenz, J. P.; Trowbridge, N.; Eglinton, T.

    2007-12-01

    A standard approach to study past planktonic taxa which carry information about past environments and climate variability is the microscopic determination and enumeration of microfossils. However, most planktonic taxa are soft-bodied and in cases where microfossils are absent or difficult to identify, chemical fossils (lipid biomarkers) can be used as paleoecological tools. Nevertheless, most lipids are not very specific, multiple sources are possible, or their biological source remains unknown. Recently, we and others have shown that under excellent preservation conditions, the analysis of preserved genetic signatures (fossil DNA) offers great potential to study past planktonic communities, including soft-bodied species, at the unprecedented species- and even strain-level (this work). Given the dramatic shifts in hydrography and the present anoxia that permeates most of the water column which promotes preservation of cellular materials, the Black Sea is an excellent setting to study the ancient species composition based on fossil DNA. We developed a high temporal resolution (50-100 yr) fossil DNA and lipid biomarker based stratigraphic record of planktonic community structure in the Black Sea spanning the complete Holocene development from the first post-glacial input of Mediterranean waters in the paleo-lacustrine Black Sea to the present. Preserved genetic markers for microbial communities dwelling at the surface (algal primary producers and zooplankton), the suboxic layer (marine Crenarchaeota), and the sulfidic chemocline (green sulfur bacteria) were targeted to provide information on past environmental change in the Black Sea. Specifically, we targeted markers that contributed to our understanding of past surface water temperature, salinity and stratification. Where possible, a side-by-side phylogenetic and lipid biomarker analyses was performed in order to carefully assess the validity of utilizing the former as proxies of a given biological input. As the corollary to this, we will also assess the influence of species changes in the putative biological precursors on both the distribution and isotopic composition of corresponding lipid biomarkers for which we plan to present data as well.

  15. Individual to community-level faunal responses to environmental change from a marine fossil record of Early Miocene global warming.

    PubMed

    Belanger, Christina L

    2012-01-01

    Modern climate change has a strong potential to shift earth systems and biological communities into novel states that have no present-day analog, leaving ecologists with no observational basis to predict the likely biotic effects. Fossil records contain long time-series of past environmental changes outside the range of modern observation, which are vital for predicting future ecological responses, and are capable of (a) providing detailed information on rates of ecological change, (b) illuminating the environmental drivers of those changes, and (c) recording the effects of environmental change on individual physiological rates. Outcrops of Early Miocene Newport Member of the Astoria Formation (Oregon) provide one such time series. This record of benthic foraminiferal and molluscan community change from continental shelf depths spans a past interval environmental change (≈ 20.3-16.7 mya) during which the region warmed 2.1-4.5°C, surface productivity and benthic organic carbon flux increased, and benthic oxygenation decreased, perhaps driven by intensified upwelling as on the modern Oregon coast. The Newport Member record shows that (a) ecological responses to natural environmental change can be abrupt, (b) productivity can be the primary driver of faunal change during global warming, (c) molluscs had a threshold response to productivity change while foraminifera changed gradually, and (d) changes in bivalve body size and growth rates parallel changes in taxonomic composition at the community level, indicating that, either directly or indirectly through some other biological parameter, the physiological tolerances of species do influence community change. Ecological studies in modern and fossil records that consider multiple ecological levels, environmental parameters, and taxonomic groups can provide critical information for predicting future ecological change and evaluating species vulnerability. PMID:22558424

  16. Individual to Community-Level Faunal Responses to Environmental Change from a Marine Fossil Record of Early Miocene Global Warming

    PubMed Central

    Belanger, Christina L.

    2012-01-01

    Modern climate change has a strong potential to shift earth systems and biological communities into novel states that have no present-day analog, leaving ecologists with no observational basis to predict the likely biotic effects. Fossil records contain long time-series of past environmental changes outside the range of modern observation, which are vital for predicting future ecological responses, and are capable of (a) providing detailed information on rates of ecological change, (b) illuminating the environmental drivers of those changes, and (c) recording the effects of environmental change on individual physiological rates. Outcrops of Early Miocene Newport Member of the Astoria Formation (Oregon) provide one such time series. This record of benthic foraminiferal and molluscan community change from continental shelf depths spans a past interval environmental change (∼20.3-16.7 mya) during which the region warmed 2.1–4.5°C, surface productivity and benthic organic carbon flux increased, and benthic oxygenation decreased, perhaps driven by intensified upwelling as on the modern Oregon coast. The Newport Member record shows that (a) ecological responses to natural environmental change can be abrupt, (b) productivity can be the primary driver of faunal change during global warming, (c) molluscs had a threshold response to productivity change while foraminifera changed gradually, and (d) changes in bivalve body size and growth rates parallel changes in taxonomic composition at the community level, indicating that, either directly or indirectly through some other biological parameter, the physiological tolerances of species do influence community change. Ecological studies in modern and fossil records that consider multiple ecological levels, environmental parameters, and taxonomic groups can provide critical information for predicting future ecological change and evaluating species vulnerability. PMID:22558424

  17. Vegetation response to climate change in Alaska: examples from the fossil record

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ager, Thomas A.

    2007-01-01

    Preface: This report was presented as an invited paper at the Fish & Wildlife Service Climate Forum held in Anchorage, Alaska on February 21-23, 2007. The purpose of the talk was to provide some examples of past climate changes that appear to have caused significant responses in Alaskan vegetation. These examples are based on interpretations of dated fossil assemblages (pollen, spores and plant macrofossils) collected and interpreted by U.S. Geological Survey and collaborating scientists from other scientific organizations during the past several decades.

  18. Tooth counts through growth in diapsid reptiles: implications for interpreting individual and size-related variation in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Brown, Caleb Marshall; VanBuren, Collin S; Larson, Derek W; Brink, Kirstin S; Campione, Nicolás E; Vavrek, Matthew J; Evans, David C

    2015-04-01

    Tooth counts are commonly recorded in fossil diapsid reptiles and have been used for taxonomic and phylogenetic purposes under the assumption that differences in the number of teeth are largely explained by interspecific variation. Although phylogeny is almost certainly one of the greatest factors influencing tooth count, the relative role of intraspecific variation is difficult, and often impossible, to test in the fossil record given the sample sizes available to palaeontologists and, as such, is best investigated using extant models. Intraspecific variation (largely manifested as size-related or ontogenetic variation) in tooth counts has been examined in extant squamates (lizards and snakes) but is poorly understood in archosaurs (crocodylians and dinosaurs). Here, we document tooth count variation in two species of extant crocodylians (Alligator mississippiensis and Crocodylus porosus) as well as a large varanid lizard (Varanus komodoensis). We test the hypothesis that variation in tooth count is driven primarily by growth and thus predict significant correlations between tooth count and size, as well as differences in the frequency of deviation from the modal tooth count in the premaxilla, maxilla, and dentary. In addition to tooth counts, we also document tooth allometry in each species and compare these results with tooth count change through growth. Results reveal no correlation of tooth count with size in any element of any species examined here, with the exception of the premaxilla of C. porosus, which shows the loss of one tooth position. Based on the taxa examined here, we reject the hypothesis, as it is evident that variation in tooth count is not always significantly correlated with growth. However, growth trajectories of smaller reptilian taxa show increases in tooth counts and, although current samples are small, suggest potential correlates between tooth count trajectories and adult size. Nevertheless, interspecific variation in growth patterns underscores the importance of considering and understanding growth when constructing taxonomic and phylogenetic characters, in particular for fossil taxa where ontogenetic patterns are difficult to reconstruct. PMID:25689039

  19. Paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic control on early diagenetic processes and fossil record in Cretaceous continental sandstones of Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Garcia, Antônio J. V.; da Rosa, Átila A. S.; Goldberg, Karin

    2005-08-01

    The Early Cretaceous, pre-rift continental rock sequences of northeastern Brazil (Rio do Peixe, Araripe, Recôncavo-Tucano, and Sergipe-Alagoas basins), deposited in a wide intracontinental basin (Afro-Brazilian Depression), and the Late Cretaceous, post-rift continental deposits of the Paraná Basin (Bauru Group, Minas Gerais) reflect the controlling processes related to the Brazilian record of nonmarine fossil vertebrates. These sequences were deposited in braided fluvial, eolian, and lacustrine environments in a semi-arid to arid climate. Sedimentary and diagenetic processes ascribed to paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental conditions are among the major factors that control fossil preservation in fluvial deposits. The pre-rift successions contain a rare record of a dinosaur fauna that lived near more humid highlands in the northern portion of the Afro-Brazilian Depression, relative to its southern counterpart, where hardly any fossil remains would have been preserved in the adverse climatic conditions. The Afro-Brazilian Depression is interpreted as a large pathway for dinosaurs before the breakup of Gondwana. Conversely, abundant dinosaur remains (bones, eggs, and teeth) and other vertebrates (turtles, crocodiles, frogs, and fish) are found in the Bauru Group in the Paraná Basin. In this unit, the seasonal paleoclimate provided sufficient conditions for the maintenance of bodies of water that served as nesting and living sites for various vertebrate forms. Paleoclimatic conditions are assumed to account for the different preservation of bones in the Paraná Basin relative to the Afro-Brazilian Depression, because the latter was subject to more arid conditions, and the humid environment was restricted to the northern margin.

  20. Leaf fossil record suggests limited influence of atmospheric CO2 on terrestrial productivity prior to angiosperm evolution

    PubMed Central

    Boyce, C. Kevin; Zwieniecki, Maciej A.

    2012-01-01

    Declining CO2 over the Cretaceous has been suggested as an evolutionary driver of the high leaf vein densities (728 mm mm?2) that are unique to the angiosperms throughout all of Earth history. Photosynthetic modeling indicated the link between high vein density and productivity documented in the modern low-CO2 regime would be lost as CO2 concentrations increased but also implied that plants with very low vein densities (less than 3 mm mm?2) should experience substantial disadvantages with high CO2. Thus, the hypothesized relationship between CO2 and plant evolution can be tested through analysis of the concurrent histories of alternative lineages, because an extrinsic driver like atmospheric CO2 should affect all plants and not just the flowering plants. No such relationship is seen. Regardless of CO2 concentrations, low vein densities are equally common among nonangiosperms throughout history and common enough to include forest canopies and not just obligate shade species that will always be of limited productivity. Modeling results can be reconciled with the fossil record if maximum assimilation rates of nonflowering plants are capped well below those of flowering plants, capturing biochemical and physiological differences that would be consistent with extant plants but previously unrecognized in the fossil record. Although previous photosynthetic modeling suggested that productivity would double or triple with each Phanerozoic transition from low to high CO2, productivity changes are likely to have been limited before a substantial increase accompanying the evolution of flowering plants. PMID:22689947

  1. Abundance Is Not Enough: The Need for Multiple Lines of Evidence in Testing for Ecological Stability in the Fossil Record

    PubMed Central

    Handley, John C.; Brett, Carlton E.

    2013-01-01

    The fossil record is the only source of information on the long-term dynamics of species assemblages. Here we assess the degree of ecological stability of the epifaunal pterioid bivalve assemblage (EPBA), which is part of the Middle Devonian Hamilton fauna of New York—the type example of the pattern of coordinated stasis, in which long intervals of faunal persistence are terminated by turnover events induced by environmental change. Previous studies have used changes in abundance structure within specific biofacies as evidence for a lack of ecological stability of the Hamilton fauna. By comparing data on relative abundance, body size, and predation, indexed as the frequency of unsuccessful shell-crushing attacks, of the EPBA, we show that abundance structure varied through time, but body-size structure and predation pressure remained relatively stable. We suggest that the energetic set-up of the Hamilton fauna's food web was able to accommodate changes in species attributes, such as fluctuating prey abundances. Ecological redundancy in prey resources, adaptive foraging of shell-crushing predators (arising from predator behavioral or adaptive switching in prey selection in response to changing prey abundances), and allometric scaling of predator-prey interactions are discussed as potential stabilizing factors contributing to the persistence of the Hamilton fauna's EPBA. Our study underscores the value and importance of multiple lines of evidence in tests of ecological stability in the fossil record. PMID:23690981

  2. Revisiting the origin and diversification of vascular plants through a comprehensive Bayesian analysis of the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Silvestro, Daniele; Cascales-Miñana, Borja; Bacon, Christine D; Antonelli, Alexandre

    2015-07-01

    Plants have a long evolutionary history, during which mass extinction events dramatically affected Earth's ecosystems and its biodiversity. The fossil record can shed light on the diversification dynamics of plant life and reveal how changes in the origination-extinction balance have contributed to shaping the current flora. We use a novel Bayesian approach to estimate origination and extinction rates in plants throughout their history. We focus on the effect of the 'Big Five' mass extinctions and on estimating the timing of origin of vascular plants, seed plants and angiosperms. Our analyses show that plant diversification is characterized by several shifts in origination and extinction rates, often matching the most important geological boundaries. The estimated origin of major plant clades predates the oldest macrofossils when considering the uncertainties associated with the fossil record and the preservation process. Our findings show that the commonly recognized mass extinctions have affected each plant group differently and that phases of high extinction often coincided with major floral turnovers. For instance, after the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary we infer negligible shifts in diversification of nonflowering seed plants, but find significantly decreased extinction in spore-bearing plants and increased origination rates in angiosperms, contributing to their current ecological and evolutionary dominance. PMID:25619401

  3. Lower Cretaceous Fossil Record of The Lavrasian Continental Shelf in Northwestern Turkey and Its Correlation with Surrounding Areas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Menteş, Merve; Özkar Öngen, İzver

    2015-04-01

    This study contains Zonguldak, Amasra and Kırkalerli (İğneada) area in the Northwestern Turkey. In this region, The Istanbul-Zonguldak Composite Terrane consists of two Paleozoic terranes and their Mesozoic overstep sequences around Zonguldak and Amasra. However The Istranca Terrane is characterized by a complex nappe-pile that includes metamorphic assemblages unconformably overlain by Tertiary sediments of the Thrace basin around İğneada. The original purpose of this study to analyze fossil records of Kozlu-Zonguldak, Amasra and Kırklareli (İğneada) in which Lower Cretaceous of shallow nautical sedimentary stacking which is regarding to The Lavrasian continental shelf in Northwestern Turkey. After analysing about 90 thin section and 30 samples we followed and associated lito-biostratigraphical similarities and contrasts, horizontal and vertical variation in facies which includes Orbitolina, Neotrocholina, megalospheric Rudists and various benthic foraminifera fossil records. Correlation between sections with detailed paleontological analyse wasn't presented until today, however there are several geological examination in these areas. In accordance with this purpose, this study tries to determine possible paleogeographic borders, which are in Northwestern Anatolian of The Lavrasian continental shelf, with benthic foraminiferal assemblages . In this examination, the other aim is to correlate with researches of Lower Cretaceous continental shelf of Iranian in East, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Spain in West, to present comparisons and contrasts in Western Pontids. Keywords: Lower Cretaceous, Benthic Foraminifera, Correlation.

  4. Towards a morphological metric of assemblage dynamics in the fossil record: a test case using planktonic foraminifera.

    PubMed

    Hsiang, Allison Y; Elder, Leanne E; Hull, Pincelli M

    2016-04-01

    With a glance, even the novice naturalist can tell you something about the ecology of a given ecosystem. This is because the morphology of individuals reflects their evolutionary history and ecology, and imparts a distinct 'look' to communities-making it possible to immediately discern between deserts and forests, or coral reefs and abyssal plains. Once quantified, morphology can provide a common metric for characterizing communities across space and time and, if measured rapidly, serve as a powerful tool for quantifying biotic dynamics. Here, we present and test a new high-throughput approach for analysing community shape in the fossil record using semi-three-dimensional (3D) morphometrics from vertically stacked images (light microscopic or photogrammetric). We assess the potential informativeness of community morphology in a first analysis of the relationship between 3D morphology, ecology and phylogeny in 16 extant species of planktonic foraminifera-an abundant group in the marine fossil record-and in a preliminary comparison of four assemblages from the North Atlantic. In the species examined, phylogenetic relatedness was most closely correlated with ecology, with all three ecological traits examined (depth habitat, symbiont ecology and biogeography) showing significant phylogenetic signal. By contrast, morphological trees (based on 3D shape similarity) were relatively distantly related to both ecology and phylogeny. Although improvements are needed to realize the full utility of community morphometrics, our approach already provides robust volumetric measurements of assemblage size, a key ecological characteristic. PMID:26977067

  5. Contrasting behavioral and feeding strategies recorded by tidal-flat bivalve trace fossils from the Upper Carboniferous of eastern Kansas

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Mangano, M.G.; Buatois, L.A.; West, R.R.; Maples, C.G.

    1998-01-01

    Upper Carboniferous tidal-flat deposits near Waverly, eastern Kansas (Stull Shale Member, Kanwaka Shale Formation), host abundant and very well-preserved trace fossils attributed to the activity of burrowing bivalves. Thin shell lenses with an abundant bivalve fauna area associated with the ichnofossil-bearing beds and afford an unusual opportunity to relate trace fossils to their makers. Two distinctive life and feeding strategies can be reconstructed on the basis of trace fossil analysis and functional morphology. Lockeria siliquaria hyporeliefs commonly are connected with vertical to inclined, truncated endichnial shafts in the absence of horizontal locomotion traces. These structures record vertical and oblique displacement through the sediment, and suggest relatively stable domiciles rather than temporary resting traces as typically considered. Crowded bedding surfaces displaying cross-cutting relationships between specimens of L. siliquaria and differential preservation at the top (concave versus convex epireliefs) record a complex history of successive events of colonization, erosion, deposition, and recolonization (time-averaged assemblages). Irregujlar contours of some large hypichnia indicate the cast of the foot, while other outlines closely match the anterior area of Wilkingia, its suggested tracemaker. Relatively stable, vertical to inclined life positions and dominanit vertical mobility suggest a filter-feeding strategy. Moreover, the elongate shell and pallial sinus of Wilkingia providfe a strong independent line of evidence for an opisthosiphonate, moderately deep-tier inhabitant. Wilingia may represent a pioneer attempt at siphon-feeding in the late Paleozoic, preceding the outcome of the Mesozoic infaunal radiation. A second strategy is represented by Lockeia ornata and association locomotionm and locomotion/feding structures. Lockeia ornata is commonly connected with chevron locomotion traces that record the bifurcated foot of a protobranch bivalve. Lockeia ornata exhibits distinctive, fine, parallel lines that mimic the ornamentation of Phestia, a nuculanid protobranch bivalve. Rosary and radial structures give evidence of a patterned search for food. Lockeia ornata and associated Protovirgularia record dominant horizontal locomoton and suggest the activity of deposit-feeding bivalves. Morphologic variability of Protovirgularia was controlled by substrate fluidity, which was dependent on sediment heterogeneity and tidal-cycle dynamics. This study demonstrates that detailed analysis of bivalve traces provides valuable information on bivalve ethology and paleoecology, evolutionary innovations, environmental dynamics, and substrate fluidity.

  6. Palaeoenvironmental records from fossil corals: The effects of submarine diagenesis on temperature and climate estimates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Allison, Nicola; Finch, Adrian A.; Webster, Jody M.; Clague, David A.

    2007-10-01

    The geochemistry of coral skeletons may reflect seawater conditions at the time of deposition and the analysis of fossil skeletons offers a method to reconstruct past climate. However the precipitation of cements in the primary coral skeleton during diagenesis may significantly affect bulk skeletal geochemistry. We used secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to measure Sr, Mg, B, U and Ba concentrations in primary coral aragonite and aragonite and calcite cements in fossil Porites corals from submerged reefs around the Hawaiian Islands. Cement and primary coral geochemistry were significantly different in all corals. We estimate the effects of cement inclusion on climate estimates from drilled coral samples, which combine cements and primary coral aragonite. Secondary 1% calcite or ˜2% aragonite cement contamination significantly affects Sr/Ca SST estimates by +1 °C and -0.4 to -0.9 °C, respectively. Cement inclusion also significantly affects Mg/Ca, B/Ca and U/Ca SST estimates in some corals. X-ray diffraction (XRD) will not detect secondary aragonite cements and significant calcite contamination may be below the limit of detection (˜1%) of the technique. Thorough petrographic examination of fossils is therefore essential to confirm that they are pristine before bulk drilled samples are analysed. To confirm that the geochemistry of the original coral structures is not affected by the precipitation of cements in adjacent pore spaces we analysed the primary coral aragonite in cemented and uncemented areas of the skeleton. Sr/Ca, B/Ca and U/Ca of primary coral aragonite is not affected by the presence of cements in adjacent interskeletal pore spaces i.e. the coral structures maintain their original composition and selective SIMS analysis of these structures offers a route to the reconstruction of accurate SSTs from altered coral skeletons. However, Mg/Ca and Ba/Ca of primary coral aragonite are significantly higher in parts of skeletons infilled with high Mg calcite cement. We hypothesise this reflects cement infilling of intraskeletal pore spaces in the primary coral structure.

  7. Late glacial climate estimates for southern Nevada: The ostracode fossil record

    SciTech Connect

    Forester, R.M.; Smith, A.J.

    1995-10-01

    Climate change plays an important role in determining as possible long term hydrological performance of the potential high level nuclear waste repository within Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Present-day global circulation results in this region having an arid to semi-arid climate characterized by hot and relatively dry summers. Global circulation during the late glacial (about 14 to 20 ka) was very different from the present-day. Preliminary study of late-glacial fossil ostracodes from {open_quotes}marsh deposits{close_quotes} in the upper Las Vegas Valley suggests mean annual precipitation may have been four times higher, while mean annual temperature may have been about 10{degrees}C cooler than today. A major difference between present-day and late-glacial climate was likely the existence of cooler, cloudier, and wetter summers in the past.

  8. Co-occurrence of pliopithecoid and hominoid primates in the fossil record: An ecometric analysis.

    PubMed

    Sukselainen, Leena; Fortelius, Mikael; Harrison, Terry

    2015-07-01

    Both pliopithecoid and hominoid primates were widely distributed throughout Eurasia during the Miocene but are known to have coexisted at only a few localities. It has been speculated that their different habitat preferences permitted only minimal overlap under special environmental conditions. Here we study the context for pliopithecoid and hominoid co-occurrence by assessing taxonomically-based palaeoecological diversity of associated fossil mammals and by direct ecometric analysis based on hypsodonty of mammalian herbivores. Our results show that pliopithecoids persistently inhabited more humid environments compared to the other primate groups studied, suggesting an inability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. The opportunity for hominoids and pliopithecoids to co-occur appears to have been restricted by niche conservatism in the latter group. Our study also indicates that direct ecometric analysis gives a better separation of the ecological preferences of these primate clades than do analyses of taxonomically-based community structure. PMID:25980796

  9. The Olorgesailie Drilling Project (ODP): a high-resolution drill core record from a hominin site in the East African Rift Valley

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dommain, R.; Potts, R.; Behrensmeyer, A. K.; Deino, A. L.

    2014-12-01

    The East African rift valley contains an outstanding record of hominin fossils that document human evolution over the Plio-Pleistocene when the global and regional climate and the rift valley itself changed markedly. The sediments of fossil localities typically provide, however, only short time windows into past climatic and environmental conditions. Continuous, long-term terrestrial records are now becoming available through core drilling to help elucidate the paleoenvironmental context of human evolution. Here we present a 500,000 year long high-resolution drill core record obtained from a key fossil and archeological site - the Olorgesailie Basin in the southern Kenya Rift Valley, well known for its sequence of archeological and faunal sites for the past 1.2 million years. In 2012 two drill cores (54 and 166 m long) were collected in the Koora Plain just south of Mt. Olorgesailie as part of the Olorgesailie Drilling Project (ODP) to establish a detailed climate and ecological record associated with the last evidence of Homo erectus in Africa, the oldest transition of Acheulean to Middle Stone Age technology, and large mammal species turnover, all of which are documented in the Olorgesailie excavations. The cores were sampled at the National Lacustrine Core Facility. More than 140 samples of tephra and trachytic basement lavas have led to high-precision 40Ar/39Ar dating. The cores are being analyzed for a suite of paleoclimatic and paleoecological proxies such as diatoms, pollen, fungal spores, phytoliths, ostracodes, carbonate isotopes, leaf wax biomarkers, charcoal, and clay mineralogy. Sedimentological analyses, including lithological descriptions, microscopic smear slide analysis (242 samples), and grain-size analysis, reveal a highly variable sedimentary sequence of deep lake phases with laminated sediments, diatomites, shallow lake and near shore phases, fluvial deposits, paleosols, interspersed carbonate layers, and abundant volcanic ash deposits. Magnetic susceptibility indicates climatic variation potentially related to precessional cycles.

  10. Uncertainties in dating constrain model choice for inferring extinction time from fossil records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saltré, Frédérik; Brook, Barry W.; Rodríguez-Rey, Marta; Cooper, Alan; Johnson, Christopher N.; Turney, Chris S. M.; Bradshaw, Corey J. A.

    2015-03-01

    Accurate estimates of the timing of extinctions (θ) are critical for understanding the causes of major die-off events and for identifying evolutionary or environmental transitions. Yet many studies have demonstrated that sampling biases and underlying statistical assumptions affect the accuracy of model-based estimates of extinction times (θˆ), and the added uncertainty contributed by inherent (laboratory) dating errors has largely been neglected. Here we provide a general guide (model-selection key) for choosing from among eight alternative ';frequentist sampling' (i.e., non-Bayesian) methods, differentiated by their treatment of both the probability of record occurrence and uncertainties in record dates, the most appropriate for a given record. We first provide a methodological framework to characterize time series of dated records as a function of the number of records, the size of the interval between successive records, and laboratory dating errors. Using both simulated data and dated Australian megafauna remains, we then assess how the characteristic of a dataset's time series dictates model performance and the probability of misclassification (false extant vs. false extinct). Among the four classic frequentist methods providing highest model performance, Marshall's (1997) and McCarthy's (1998) methods have the highest model precision. However, high model performance did not prevent misclassification errors, such that the Gaussian-resampled inverse-weighted McInerny (GRIWM) approach is the only method providing both high model accuracy and no misclassification issues, because of its unique down-weighting interval procedure and its ability to account for uncertainties in record dates. Applying the guideline to three time series of extinct Australian species, we recommend using Marshall's, McCarthy's and/or GRIWM methods to infer θ of both Thylacinus sp. and Genyornis sp., because each dataset is characterized by many sightings and a low variance of the interval between records, whereas McInerny's method better suits Diprotodon sp. due to an even lower interval variance.

  11. Fossil Horses

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    MacFadden, Bruce J.

    1994-06-01

    The family Equidae have an extensive fossil record spanning the past 58 million years, and the evolution of the horse has frequently been used as a classic example of long-term evolution. In recent years, however, there have been many important discoveries of fossil horses, and these, in conjunction with such new methods as cladistics, and techniques such as precise geochronology, have allowed us to achieve a much greater understanding of the evolution and biology of this important group. This book synthesizes the large body of data and research relevant to an understanding of fossil horses from several disciplines including biology, geology and paleontology. Using horses as the central theme, the author weaves together in the text such topics as modern geochronology, paleobiogeography, climate change, evolution and extinction, functional morphology, and population biology during the Cenozoic period. This book will be exciting reading for researchers and graduate students in vertebrate paleontology, evolution, and zoology.

  12. Towards a morphological metric of assemblage dynamics in the fossil record: a test case using planktonic foraminifera

    PubMed Central

    Hsiang, Allison Y.; Elder, Leanne E.; Hull, Pincelli M.

    2016-01-01

    With a glance, even the novice naturalist can tell you something about the ecology of a given ecosystem. This is because the morphology of individuals reflects their evolutionary history and ecology, and imparts a distinct ‘look’ to communities—making it possible to immediately discern between deserts and forests, or coral reefs and abyssal plains. Once quantified, morphology can provide a common metric for characterizing communities across space and time and, if measured rapidly, serve as a powerful tool for quantifying biotic dynamics. Here, we present and test a new high-throughput approach for analysing community shape in the fossil record using semi-three-dimensional (3D) morphometrics from vertically stacked images (light microscopic or photogrammetric). We assess the potential informativeness of community morphology in a first analysis of the relationship between 3D morphology, ecology and phylogeny in 16 extant species of planktonic foraminifera—an abundant group in the marine fossil record—and in a preliminary comparison of four assemblages from the North Atlantic. In the species examined, phylogenetic relatedness was most closely correlated with ecology, with all three ecological traits examined (depth habitat, symbiont ecology and biogeography) showing significant phylogenetic signal. By contrast, morphological trees (based on 3D shape similarity) were relatively distantly related to both ecology and phylogeny. Although improvements are needed to realize the full utility of community morphometrics, our approach already provides robust volumetric measurements of assemblage size, a key ecological characteristic. PMID:26977067

  13. A Fish Assemblage from the Middle Eocene from Libya (Dur At-Talah) and the Earliest Record of Modern African Fish Genera

    PubMed Central

    Otero, Olga; Pinton, Aurélie; Cappetta, Henri; Adnet, Sylvain; Valentin, Xavier; Salem, Mustapha; Jaeger, Jean-Jacques

    2015-01-01

    In the early nineteen sixties, Arambourg and Magnier found some freshwater fish (i.e., Polypterus sp., Siluriformes indet. and Lates sp.) mixed with marine members in an Eocene vertebrate assemblage at Gebel Coquin, in the southern Libyan Desert. This locality, aged ca 37–39Ma and now known under the name of Dur At-Talah, has been recently excavated. A new fish assemblage, mostly composed of teeth, was collected by the Mission Paléontologique Franco-Libyenne. In this paper, we describe freshwater fish members including a dipnoan (Protopterus sp.), and several actinopterygians: bichir (Polypterus sp.), aba fish (Gymnarchus sp.), several catfishes (Chrysichthys sp. and a mochokid indet.), several characiforms (including the tiger fish Hydrocynus sp., and one or two alestin-like fish), and perciforms (including the snake-head fish Parachanna sp. and at least one cichlid). Together with the fossiliferous outcrops at Birket Qarun in Egypt, the Libyan site at Dur At-Talah reduces a 10-Ma chronological gap in the fossil record of African freshwater fish. Their fish assemblages overlap in their composition and thus constitute a rather homogenous, original and significant amount of new elements regarding the Paleogene African ichthyofauna. This supports the establishment of the modern African freshwater fish fauna during this time period because these sites mostly contain the earliest members known in modern genera. PMID:26674637

  14. A Fish Assemblage from the Middle Eocene from Libya (Dur At-Talah) and the Earliest Record of Modern African Fish Genera.

    PubMed

    Otero, Olga; Pinton, Aurélie; Cappetta, Henri; Adnet, Sylvain; Valentin, Xavier; Salem, Mustapha; Jaeger, Jean-Jacques

    2015-01-01

    In the early nineteen sixties, Arambourg and Magnier found some freshwater fish (i.e., Polypterus sp., Siluriformes indet. and Lates sp.) mixed with marine members in an Eocene vertebrate assemblage at Gebel Coquin, in the southern Libyan Desert. This locality, aged ca 37-39Ma and now known under the name of Dur At-Talah, has been recently excavated. A new fish assemblage, mostly composed of teeth, was collected by the Mission Paléontologique Franco-Libyenne. In this paper, we describe freshwater fish members including a dipnoan (Protopterus sp.), and several actinopterygians: bichir (Polypterus sp.), aba fish (Gymnarchus sp.), several catfishes (Chrysichthys sp. and a mochokid indet.), several characiforms (including the tiger fish Hydrocynus sp., and one or two alestin-like fish), and perciforms (including the snake-head fish Parachanna sp. and at least one cichlid). Together with the fossiliferous outcrops at Birket Qarun in Egypt, the Libyan site at Dur At-Talah reduces a 10-Ma chronological gap in the fossil record of African freshwater fish. Their fish assemblages overlap in their composition and thus constitute a rather homogenous, original and significant amount of new elements regarding the Paleogene African ichthyofauna. This supports the establishment of the modern African freshwater fish fauna during this time period because these sites mostly contain the earliest members known in modern genera. PMID:26674637

  15. Biophysical constraints on the origin of leaves inferred from the fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Osborne, C. P.; Beerling, D. J.; Lomax, B. H.; Chaloner, W. G.

    2004-01-01

    The molecular tool kit for producing flat-bladed photosynthetic structures evolved in marine and terrestrial plants during the middle Paleozoic, but it took a further 20 million years before leaves suddenly spread throughout land floras. This delay has long been difficult to explain, given the apparent advantage of leaves for photosynthetic primary production. Theory and experiments predict that exceptionally high atmospheric CO2 levels in the middle Paleozoic delayed the origin of leaves by restricting stomatal development. This would have limited evaporative cooling, leading to lethal overheating of leaves absorbing large quantities of solar energy. Here we test the central prediction of this argument with a morphometric analysis of 300 plant fossils from major European collections. We show a 25-fold enlargement of leaf blades in two phylogenetically independent clades as atmospheric CO2 levels fell during the late Paleozoic. Furthermore, preliminary data suggest that the first abrupt increase in leaf size was accompanied by an 8-fold rise in stomatal density. These evolutionary patterns support the relaxation of biophysical constraints on leaf area predicted by theory and point to a significant role for CO2 in plant evolution. PMID:15240879

  16. High-resolution leaf-fossil record spanning the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Johnson, K.R.; Nichols, D.J.; Attrep, M., Jr.; Orth, C.J.

    1989-01-01

    THEORIES that explain the extinctions characterizing the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary1-3 need to be tested by analyses of thoroughly sampled biotas. Palynological studies are the primary means for stratigraphic placement of the terrestrial boundary and for estimates of plant extinction4-12, but have not been combined with quantitative analyses of fossil leaves (megaflora). Megafloral studies complement palynology by representing local floras with assemblages capable of high taxonomic resolution13, but have previously lacked the sample size and stratigraphic spacing needed to resolve latest Cretaceous floral history5,14-18. We have now combined megafloral data from a 100-m-thick composite K/T boundary section in North Dakota with detailed palynological analysis. Here the boundary is marked by a 30% palynofloral extinction coincident with iridium and shocked-mineral anomalies and lies ???2 m above the highest dinosaur remains. The megaflora undergoes a 79% turnover across the boundary, and smaller changes 17- and 25-m below it. This pattern is consistent with latest Cretaceous climatic warming preceding a bolide impact. ?? 1989 Nature Publishing Group.

  17. Trace fossils and substrates of the terminal Proterozoic-Cambrian transition: implications for the record of early bilaterians and sediment mixing.

    PubMed

    Droser, Mary L; Jensen, Sren; Gehling, James G

    2002-10-01

    The trace fossil record is important in determining the timing of the appearance of bilaterian animals. A conservative estimate puts this time at approximately equal 555 million years ago. The preservational potential of traces made close to the sediment-water interface is crucial to detecting early benthic activity. Our studies on earliest Cambrian sediments suggest that shallow tiers were preserved to a greater extent than typical for most of the Phanerozoic, which can be attributed both directly and indirectly to the low levels of sediment mixing. The low levels of sediment mixing meant that thin event beds were preserved. The shallow depth of sediment mixing also meant that muddy sediments were firm close to the sediment-water interface, increasing the likelihood of recording shallow-tier trace fossils in muddy sediments. Overall, trace fossils can provide a sound record of the onset of bilaterian benthic activity. PMID:12271130

  18. THE VERY FAINT END OF THE UV LUMINOSITY FUNCTION OVER COSMIC TIME: CONSTRAINTS FROM THE LOCAL GROUP FOSSIL RECORD

    SciTech Connect

    Weisz, Daniel R.; Johnson, Benjamin D.; Conroy, Charlie

    2014-10-10

    We present a new technique to estimate the evolution of the very faint end of the UV luminosity function (LF) out to z ∼ 5. Measured star formation histories (SFHs) from the fossil record of Local Group (LG) galaxies are used to reconstruct the LF down to M {sub UV} ∼–5 at z ∼ 5 and M {sub UV} ∼–1.5 at z < 1. Such faint limits are well beyond the current observational limits and are likely to remain beyond the limits of next-generation facilities. The reconstructed LFs, when combined with direct measurements of the LFs at higher luminosity, are well-fit by a standard Schechter function with no evidence of a break to the faintest limits probed by this technique. The derived faint-end slope, α, steepens from ≈ – 1.2 at z < 1 to ≈ – 1.6 at 4 < z < 5. We test the effects of burstiness in the SFHs and find the recovered LFs to be only modestly affected. Incompleteness corrections for the faintest LG galaxies and the (unlikely) possibility of significant luminosity-dependent destruction of dwarf galaxies between high redshift and the present epoch are important uncertainties. These and other uncertainties can be mitigated with more detailed modeling and future observations. The reconstructed faint end LF from the fossil record can therefore be a powerful and complementary probe of the high-redshift faint galaxies believed to play a key role in the reionization of the universe.

  19. The fossil record of phenotypic integration and modularity: A deep-time perspective on developmental and evolutionary dynamics

    PubMed Central

    Goswami, Anjali; Binder, Wendy J.; Meachen, Julie; O’Keefe, F. Robin

    2015-01-01

    Variation is the raw material for natural selection, but the factors shaping variation are still poorly understood. Genetic and developmental interactions can direct variation, but there has been little synthesis of these effects with the extrinsic factors that can shape biodiversity over large scales. The study of phenotypic integration and modularity has the capacity to unify these aspects of evolutionary study by estimating genetic and developmental interactions through the quantitative analysis of morphology, allowing for combined assessment of intrinsic and extrinsic effects. Data from the fossil record in particular are central to our understanding of phenotypic integration and modularity because they provide the only information on deep-time developmental and evolutionary dynamics, including trends in trait relationships and their role in shaping organismal diversity. Here, we demonstrate the important perspective on phenotypic integration provided by the fossil record with a study of Smilodon fatalis (saber-toothed cats) and Canis dirus (dire wolves). We quantified temporal trends in size, variance, phenotypic integration, and direct developmental integration (fluctuating asymmetry) through 27,000 y of Late Pleistocene climate change. Both S. fatalis and C. dirus showed a gradual decrease in magnitude of phenotypic integration and an increase in variance and the correlation between fluctuating asymmetry and overall integration through time, suggesting that developmental integration mediated morphological response to environmental change in the later populations of these species. These results are consistent with experimental studies and represent, to our knowledge, the first deep-time validation of the importance of developmental integration in stabilizing morphological evolution through periods of environmental change. PMID:25901310

  20. The fossil record of phenotypic integration and modularity: A deep-time perspective on developmental and evolutionary dynamics.

    PubMed

    Goswami, Anjali; Binder, Wendy J; Meachen, Julie; O'Keefe, F Robin

    2015-04-21

    Variation is the raw material for natural selection, but the factors shaping variation are still poorly understood. Genetic and developmental interactions can direct variation, but there has been little synthesis of these effects with the extrinsic factors that can shape biodiversity over large scales. The study of phenotypic integration and modularity has the capacity to unify these aspects of evolutionary study by estimating genetic and developmental interactions through the quantitative analysis of morphology, allowing for combined assessment of intrinsic and extrinsic effects. Data from the fossil record in particular are central to our understanding of phenotypic integration and modularity because they provide the only information on deep-time developmental and evolutionary dynamics, including trends in trait relationships and their role in shaping organismal diversity. Here, we demonstrate the important perspective on phenotypic integration provided by the fossil record with a study of Smilodon fatalis (saber-toothed cats) and Canis dirus (dire wolves). We quantified temporal trends in size, variance, phenotypic integration, and direct developmental integration (fluctuating asymmetry) through 27,000 y of Late Pleistocene climate change. Both S. fatalis and C. dirus showed a gradual decrease in magnitude of phenotypic integration and an increase in variance and the correlation between fluctuating asymmetry and overall integration through time, suggesting that developmental integration mediated morphological response to environmental change in the later populations of these species. These results are consistent with experimental studies and represent, to our knowledge, the first deep-time validation of the importance of developmental integration in stabilizing morphological evolution through periods of environmental change. PMID:25901310

  1. Neotropical mammal diversity and the Great American Biotic Interchange: spatial and temporal variation in South America's fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Carrillo, Juan D.; Forasiepi, Analía; Jaramillo, Carlos; Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R.

    2015-01-01

    The vast mammal diversity of the Neotropics is the result of a long evolutionary history. During most of the Cenozoic, South America was an island continent with an endemic mammalian fauna. This isolation ceased during the late Neogene after the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, resulting in an event known as the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI). In this study, we investigate biogeographic patterns in South America, just before or when the first immigrants are recorded and we review the temporal and geographical distribution of fossil mammals during the GABI. We performed a dissimilarity analysis which grouped the faunal assemblages according to their age and their geographic distribution. Our data support the differentiation between tropical and temperate assemblages in South America during the middle and late Miocene. The GABI begins during the late Miocene (~10–7 Ma) and the putative oldest migrations are recorded in the temperate region, where the number of GABI participants rapidly increases after ~5 Ma and this trend continues during the Pleistocene. A sampling bias toward higher latitudes and younger records challenges the study of the temporal and geographic patterns of the GABI. PMID:25601879

  2. Neotropical mammal diversity and the Great American Biotic Interchange: spatial and temporal variation in South America's fossil record.

    PubMed

    Carrillo, Juan D; Forasiepi, Analía; Jaramillo, Carlos; Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R

    2014-01-01

    The vast mammal diversity of the Neotropics is the result of a long evolutionary history. During most of the Cenozoic, South America was an island continent with an endemic mammalian fauna. This isolation ceased during the late Neogene after the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, resulting in an event known as the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI). In this study, we investigate biogeographic patterns in South America, just before or when the first immigrants are recorded and we review the temporal and geographical distribution of fossil mammals during the GABI. We performed a dissimilarity analysis which grouped the faunal assemblages according to their age and their geographic distribution. Our data support the differentiation between tropical and temperate assemblages in South America during the middle and late Miocene. The GABI begins during the late Miocene (~10-7 Ma) and the putative oldest migrations are recorded in the temperate region, where the number of GABI participants rapidly increases after ~5 Ma and this trend continues during the Pleistocene. A sampling bias toward higher latitudes and younger records challenges the study of the temporal and geographic patterns of the GABI. PMID:25601879

  3. Arthropod eyes: The early Cambrian fossil record and divergent evolution of visual systems.

    PubMed

    Strausfeld, Nicholas J; Ma, Xiaoya; Edgecombe, Gregory D; Fortey, Richard A; Land, Michael F; Liu, Yu; Cong, Peiyun; Hou, Xianguang

    2016-03-01

    Four types of eyes serve the visual neuropils of extant arthropods: compound retinas composed of adjacent facets; a visual surface populated by spaced eyelets; a smooth transparent cuticle providing inwardly directed lens cylinders; and single-lens eyes. The first type is a characteristic of pancrustaceans, the eyes of which comprise lenses arranged as hexagonal or rectilinear arrays, each lens crowning 8-9 photoreceptor neurons. Except for Scutigeromorpha, the second type typifies Myriapoda whose relatively large eyelets surmount numerous photoreceptive rhabdoms stacked together as tiers. Scutigeromorph eyes are facetted, each lens crowning some dozen photoreceptor neurons of a modified apposition-type eye. Extant chelicerate eyes are single-lensed except in xiphosurans, whose lateral eyes comprise a cuticle with a smooth outer surface and an inner one providing regular arrays of lens cylinders. This account discusses whether these disparate eye types speak for or against divergence from one ancestral eye type. Previous considerations of eye evolution, focusing on the eyes of trilobites and on facet proliferation in xiphosurans and myriapods, have proposed that the mode of development of eyes in those taxa is distinct from that of pancrustaceans and is the plesiomorphic condition from which facetted eyes have evolved. But the recent discovery of enormous regularly facetted compound eyes belonging to early Cambrian radiodontans suggests that high-resolution facetted eyes with superior optics may be the ground pattern organization for arthropods, predating the evolution of arthrodization and jointed post-protocerebral appendages. Here we provide evidence that compound eye organization in stem-group euarthropods of the Cambrian can be understood in terms of eye morphologies diverging from this ancestral radiodontan-type ground pattern. We show that in certain Cambrian groups apposition eyes relate to fixed or mobile eyestalks, whereas other groups reveal concomitant evolution of sessile eyes equipped with optics typical of extant xiphosurans. Observations of fossil material, including that of trilobites and eurypterids, support the proposition that the ancestral compound eye was the apposition type. Cambrian arthropods include possible precursors of mandibulate eyes. The latter are the modified compound eyes, now sessile, and their underlying optic lobes exemplified by scutigeromorph chilopods, and the mobile stalked compound eyes and more elaborate optic lobes typifying Pancrustacea. Radical divergence from an ancestral apposition type is demonstrated by the evolution of chelicerate eyes, from doublet sessile-eyed stem-group taxa to special apposition eyes of xiphosurans, the compound eyes of eurypterids, and single-lens eyes of arachnids. Different eye types are discussed with respect to possible modes of life of the extinct species that possessed them, comparing these to extant counterparts and the types of visual centers the eyes might have served. PMID:26276096

  4. New Early Triassic trace fossil records from South China: implications for biotic recovery following the end-Permian mass extinction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Luo, M.; George, A. D.; Chen, Z.; Zhang, Y.

    2013-12-01

    New Early Triassic trace fossil assemblages are documented from the Susong and Tianshengqiao areas in South China to evaluate the mode and tempo of biotic recovery of epifaunal and infaunal organisms following the end-Permian mass extinction. The Susong succession is exposed in Anhui area of the Lower Yangtze region and comprises mudstone and carbonate facies that record overall shallowing from offshore to supratidal settings. The Tianshengqiao succession crops out in the Luoping area, Yuannan Province of the Upper Yangtze region, and consists of mixed carbonate and siliciclastic facies which were deposited in shallow marine to offshore settings. Bivalve and conodont biostratigraphy helps constrain the chronostratigraphic framework of the Lower Triassic successions in these two sections. Griesbachian to Dieneria ichnological records in both successions are characterized by low ichnodiversity, low ichnofabric indices (ii=1-2) and low bedding plane bioturbation indices (bpbi=1-2). Higher ii (ii= 3 and 4) corresponding to densely populated diminutive Skolithos in the Tianshengqiao succession suggest an opportunistic strategy during earliest Triassic deposition. Ichnological data from the Susong succession show an increase in ichnodiversity during the Smithian. A total of 12 ichnogenera including Arenicolites, Chondrites, Gyrochorte, Laevicyclus, Monocraterion, Palaeophycus, Phycodes, Plaolites, Thalassinoides, Treptichnus, Trichichnus and one problematic trace are identified. Ichnofabric indices (ii) and bpbi increase to moderate to high levels (ii = 4-5, bpbi= 3-5). Although complex traces such as Rhizocorallium are in Spathian strata in this section, the low levels of ichnodiversity, ichnofabric indices and diminutive Planolites suggest a decline in recovery. In the Tianshengqiao succession, ichnofabric indices exhibit a moderate to high value (ii= 3 to 5), however, only six ichnogenera are found and Planolites burrows are consistently small (average diameter at 3.7 mm) in the Smithian strata. These stressed ichnological parameters remain unchanged during the Spathian. Complex traces such as large Rhizocorallium and Thalassinoides and large sized Planolites (average diameter is 6.9 mm) did not appear until the Anisian. Ichnological results from both successions record the response of organisms to prolonged unfavorable environmental conditions although trace fossils from the Susong succession show evidences for recovery during the Smithian followed by a decline. This maybe resulted from a recognised temperature spike at the Smithian/Spathian boundary in South China and elsewhere. Ichnological data from the Tianshengqiao succession suggests a protracted recovery throughout the Early Triassic.

  5. Tracking changing environments using stable carbon isotopes in fossil tooth enamel: an example from the South African hominin sites.

    PubMed

    Lee-Thorp, Julia A; Sponheimer, Matt; Luyt, Julie

    2007-11-01

    The environmental contexts of the karstic hominin sites in South Africa have been established largely by means of faunal associations; taken together these data suggest a trend from relatively closed and more mesic to open, drier environments from about 3 to 1.5 Ma. Vrba argued for a major shift within this trend ca. 2.4-2.6 Ma, an influential proposal that posited links between bovid (and hominin) radiation in Africa and the intensification of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation. Yet faunal approaches often rely on habitat and feeding preferences of modern taxa that may differ from those of their extinct predecessors. Here we explore ways of extending (13)C/(12)C data from fossil mammals beyond denoting "presence" or "absence" of C(4) grasses using the evolution of open environments in South Africa as a case study. To do so we calculated the relative proportions of C(3)-, mixed-, and C(4)-feeding herbivores for all the hominin sites for which we have sufficient data based on (13)C/(12)C analyses of fossil tooth enamel. The results confirm a general trend towards more open environments since 3 Ma, but they also emphasize a marked change to open grassy habitats in the latest Pliocene/early Pleistocene. Mean (13)C/(12)C for large felids also mirrored this trend. PMID:17920103

  6. When did Carcharocles megalodon become extinct? A new analysis of the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Pimiento, Catalina; Clements, Christopher F

    2014-01-01

    Carcharocles megalodon ("Megalodon") is the largest shark that ever lived. Based on its distribution, dental morphology, and associated fauna, it has been suggested that this species was a cosmopolitan apex predator that fed on marine mammals from the middle Miocene to the Pliocene (15.9-2.6 Ma). Prevailing theory suggests that the extinction of apex predators affects ecosystem dynamics. Accordingly, knowing the time of extinction of C. megalodon is a fundamental step towards understanding the effects of such an event in ancient communities. However, the time of extinction of this important species has never been quantitatively assessed. Here, we synthesize the most recent records of C. megalodon from the literature and scientific collections and infer the date of its extinction by making a novel use of the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) model. Our results suggest that C. megalodon went extinct around 2.6 Ma. Furthermore, when contrasting our results with known ecological and macroevolutionary trends in marine mammals, it became evident that the modern composition and function of modern gigantic filter-feeding whales was established after the extinction of C. megalodon. Consequently, the study of the time of extinction of C. megalodon provides the basis to improve our understanding of the responses of marine species to the removal of apex predators, presenting a deep-time perspective for the conservation of modern ecosystems. PMID:25338197

  7. When Did Carcharocles megalodon Become Extinct? A New Analysis of the Fossil Record

    PubMed Central

    Pimiento, Catalina; Clements, Christopher F.

    2014-01-01

    Carcharocles megalodon (“Megalodon”) is the largest shark that ever lived. Based on its distribution, dental morphology, and associated fauna, it has been suggested that this species was a cosmopolitan apex predator that fed on marine mammals from the middle Miocene to the Pliocene (15.9–2.6 Ma). Prevailing theory suggests that the extinction of apex predators affects ecosystem dynamics. Accordingly, knowing the time of extinction of C. megalodon is a fundamental step towards understanding the effects of such an event in ancient communities. However, the time of extinction of this important species has never been quantitatively assessed. Here, we synthesize the most recent records of C. megalodon from the literature and scientific collections and infer the date of its extinction by making a novel use of the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) model. Our results suggest that C. megalodon went extinct around 2.6 Ma. Furthermore, when contrasting our results with known ecological and macroevolutionary trends in marine mammals, it became evident that the modern composition and function of modern gigantic filter-feeding whales was established after the extinction of C. megalodon. Consequently, the study of the time of extinction of C. megalodon provides the basis to improve our understanding of the responses of marine species to the removal of apex predators, presenting a deep-time perspective for the conservation of modern ecosystems. PMID:25338197

  8. A distal 140 kyr sediment record of Nile discharge and East African monsoon variability

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ehrmann, Werner; Schmiedl, Gerhard; Seidel, Martin; Krüger, Stefan; Schulz, Hartmut

    2016-03-01

    Clay mineral assemblages in a sediment core from the distal Nile discharge plume off Israel have been used to reconstruct the late Quaternary Nile sediment discharge into the eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS). The record spans the last ca. 140 kyr. Smectite abundances indicate the influence of the Blue Nile and the Atbara River that have their headwaters in the volcanic rocks of the Ethiopian Highlands. Kaolinite abundances indicate the influence of wadis, which contribute periodically to the suspension load of the Nile. Due to the geographical position, the climate and the sedimentary framework of the EMS is controlled by two climate systems. The long-term climate regime was governed by the African monsoon that caused major African humid periods (AHPs) with enhanced sediment discharge at 132 to < 126 (AHP 5), 116 to 99 (AHP4), and 89 to 77 ka (AHP3). They lasted much longer than the formation of the related sapropel layers S5 (> 2 kyr), S4 (3.5 kyr), and S3 (5 kyr). During the last glacial period (Marine Isotope Stages (MISs) 4-2), the long-term changes in the monsoonal system were superimposed by millennial-scale changes in an intensified midlatitude glacial system. This climate regime caused short but pronounced drought periods in the Nile catchment, which are linked to Heinrich events and alternate with more humid interstadials. The clay mineral record further implies that feedback mechanisms between vegetation cover and sediment discharge of the Nile are detectable but of minor importance for the sedimentary record in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea during the investigated African humid periods.

  9. Human species and mating systems: Neandertal-Homo sapiens reproductive isolation and the archaeological and fossil records.

    PubMed

    Overmann, Karenleigh; Coolidge, Frederick

    2013-01-01

    The present paper examined the assumption of strong reproductive isolation (RI) between Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens, as well as the question of what form it might have taken, using insights from the parallel case of chimpanzee–bonobo hybridization. RI from hybrid sterility or inviability was thought unlikely based on the short separation-to-introgression timeline. The forms of RI that typically develop in primates have relatively short timelines (especially for partial implementation); they generally preclude mating or influence hybrid survival and reproduction in certain contexts, and they have the potential to skew introgression directionality. These RI barriers are also consistent with some interpretations of the archaeological and fossil records, especially when behavioral, cognitive, morphological, and genetic differences between the two human species are taken into consideration. Differences potentially influencing patterns of survival and reproduction include interspecies violence, Neandertal xenophobia, provisioning behavior, and ontogenetic, morphological, and behavioral differences affecting matters such as kin and mate recognition, infanticide, and sexual selection. These factors may have skewed the occurrence of interbreeding or the survival and reproduction of hybrids in a way that might at least partially explain the pattern of introgression. PMID:24344097

  10. The Mescal Cave Fauna (San Bernardino County, California) and testing assumptions of habitat fidelity in the Quaternary fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stegner, Mary Allison

    2015-05-01

    The late Pleistocene and Holocene vertebrate fossil record for the northern Mojave Desert (southwestern USA) is known primarily from five sites. Until now, only two of these have been radiometrically dated, and temporal placement of the others has been based on stratigraphic or biostratigraphic correlation, leading to circular interpretations of mammal extirpations in the Mojave. Here, I report a revised and complete faunal list for Mescal Cave, along with 22 AMS radiocarbon dates from 5 vertebrate taxa recovered from its deposits. The results reported here demonstrate time-averaging in Mescal Cave encompassing around ~ 34 ka, a maximum age 14 ka older and minimum age 10 ka younger than previously thought. Furthermore, radiocarbon analyses suggest local extirpation of Marmota flaviventris around 3.6 cal ka BP, considerably younger than expected based on regional patterns of warming and aridification in the Mojave. Conversely, radiocarbon dates from another presumably boreal species, Neotoma cinerea, are considerably older than expected, suggesting either that climate change at this site did not directly mirror regional patterns, that habitat requirements for these two species are not strictly boreal or cool/mesic as has often been assumed, or that local edaphic conditions and/or competitive interactions overrode the regional climatic controls on theses species' distribution.

  11. An analysis of pterosaurian biogeography: implications for the evolutionary history and fossil record quality of the first flying vertebrates

    PubMed Central

    Upchurch, Paul; Andres, Brian; Butler, Richard J.; Barrett, Paul M.

    2015-01-01

    The biogeographical history of pterosaurs has received very little treatment. Here, we present the first quantitative analysis of pterosaurian biogeography based on an event-based parsimony method (Treefitter). This approach was applied to a phylogenetic tree comprising the relationships of 108 in-group pterosaurian taxa, spanning the full range of this clade's stratigraphical and geographical extent. The results indicate that there is no support for the impact of vicariance or coherent dispersal on pterosaurian distributions. However, this group does display greatly elevated levels of sympatry. Although sampling biases and taxonomic problems might have artificially elevated the occurrence of sympatry, we argue that our results probably reflect a genuine biogeographical signal. We propose a novel model to explain pterosaurian distributions: pterosaurs underwent a series of ‘sweep-stakes’ dispersal events (across oceanic barriers in most cases), resulting in the founding of sympatric clusters of taxa. Examination of the spatiotemporal distributions of pterosaurian occurrences indicates that their fossil record is extremely patchy. Thus, while there is likely to be genuine information on pterosaurian diversity and biogeographical patterns in the current data-set, caution is required in its interpretation. PMID:26339122

  12. A search for evidence of large body Earth impacts associated with biological crisis zones in the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Orth, C. J.; Gilmore, J. S.; Knight, J. D.

    1985-01-01

    The natural history of the Earth, how the present plant and animal species developed, how others completely died out, etc., was studied. The rock strata sampled and studied were at the time of deposition at sea bottom. It was found that, exactly at the stratigraphic level corresponding to the extinction, a thin clay layer was greatly enriched in the the rare element iridium. It was hypothesized that the excess irridium at the boundary came from a large steroid like object that hit the earth, and that the impact of this object threw up a dust cloud dense enough and long lasting enough to bring about the extinction of a wide variety of plants and animals, producing the unique break in in the fossil record, the cretaceous-tertiary boundary. The same iridium and platinum metals enrichement are found in a thin clay layer that corresponds with the boundary as difined by sudden radical changes in plant populations. The irridium enrichement is confirmed at other fresh water origin rites in the Raton Basin.

  13. KZai 02 pollen record, an insight into West African monsoon fluctuations during the Last Climatic Cycle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dalibard, M.; Popescu, S.; Maley, J.; Suc, J.

    2012-12-01

    Climate of the circum-Atlantic intertropical zone is driven by the ocean/atmosphere dynamics in response to variations of yearly insolation. These latitudes correspond to the convergence of the Hadley cells expressed on earth surface by intense trade winds and in lower troposphere by the African easterly jet making the edges of the intertropical zone relatively dry, while humidity is concentrated near the Equator. This phenomenon generates a precipitation front, known as the InterTropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the oscillations of which regulate the latitudinal vegetation distribution. Pollen record of core KZai 02 (Guinea Gulf) allows high resolution reconstruction of variations of past ecosystems over Central Africa during the Last Climatic Cycle. Plant taxa recorded in pollen analyses have been clustered according to their ecological requirements and African phytogeography. Fluctuations of these groups inform on precipitation intensity and their distribution during the last 130 ka. During Glacials, an open vegetation made of Cyperaceae marshes developed in the central Zaire/Congo Basin, surrounded by savannah on borders and afromontane forests on reliefs. Composition and distribution of vegetation indicate a decrease in monsoon activity and the strengthening of the precipitation front in the center of the basin. Interglacial phases are characterized by rain forest expansion over Central Africa in response to a precipitation enhancement associated with a northward shift of the rainfall front. Replacement of afromontane forest and marsh ecosystems by savannah then lowland pioneering, warm-temperate and rain forests characterized glacial/interglacial transitions. This succession suggests the increasing influence of at least two climatic parameters: the water availability and temperature and/or CO2 fluctuation. Spectral analysis applied to vegetation groups evidences the forcing of insolation, mainly driven by precession, on the West African monsoon system. Sub-Milankovitch periods are also revealed and are associated to the Heinrich and Dansgaard/Oeschger events.

  14. Review of the fossil matamata turtles: earliest well-dated record and hypotheses on the origin of their present geographical distribution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferreira, Gabriel S.; Rincón, Ascanio D.; Solórzano, Andrés; Langer, Max C.

    2016-04-01

    The matamata ( Chelus fimbriatus) is a highly aquatic chelid turtle known exclusively from northern South America. Due to its extremely modified morphology, it is well circumscribed among living taxa, but that is not the case of the two extinct species ascribed to the taxon, Chelus colombianus and Chelus lewisi. These were originally described for the Miocene of Colombia and Venezuela, respectively, and are known mostly from post-cranial material. Few traits have been considered diagnostic for these fossil taxa, and their shared geographic and temporal distributions raise doubts about their distinctiveness. Here, we describe new turtle remains from the early Miocene Castillo Formation, at Cerro la Cruz, northwestern Venezuela, assigning them to C. colombianus. We also review the taxonomy and diagnostic features of the fossil species of Chelus, comparing them with the variation recognized within C. fimbriatus. All alleged differences between the fossil Chelus species were found in our sample of the extant species, and may represent intraspecific variation of a single fossil species. Further, we reviewed the fossil record of Chelus spp. and proposed a paleobiogeographic hypothesis to explain its present geographic range.

  15. Review of the fossil matamata turtles: earliest well-dated record and hypotheses on the origin of their present geographical distribution.

    PubMed

    Ferreira, Gabriel S; Rincón, Ascanio D; Solórzano, Andrés; Langer, Max C

    2016-04-01

    The matamata (Chelus fimbriatus) is a highly aquatic chelid turtle known exclusively from northern South America. Due to its extremely modified morphology, it is well circumscribed among living taxa, but that is not the case of the two extinct species ascribed to the taxon, Chelus colombianus and Chelus lewisi. These were originally described for the Miocene of Colombia and Venezuela, respectively, and are known mostly from post-cranial material. Few traits have been considered diagnostic for these fossil taxa, and their shared geographic and temporal distributions raise doubts about their distinctiveness. Here, we describe new turtle remains from the early Miocene Castillo Formation, at Cerro la Cruz, northwestern Venezuela, assigning them to C. colombianus. We also review the taxonomy and diagnostic features of the fossil species of Chelus, comparing them with the variation recognized within C. fimbriatus. All alleged differences between the fossil Chelus species were found in our sample of the extant species, and may represent intraspecific variation of a single fossil species. Further, we reviewed the fossil record of Chelus spp. and proposed a paleobiogeographic hypothesis to explain its present geographic range. PMID:26940060

  16. A distal 145 ka sediment record of Nile discharge and East African monsoon variability

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ehrmann, W.; Schmiedl, G.; Seidel, M.; Krüger, S.; Schulz, H.

    2015-09-01

    Clay mineral assemblages in a sediment core from the distal Nile discharge plume off Israel have been used to reconstruct the late Quaternary Nile sediment discharge into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS). The record spans the last ca. 145 ka. Smectite abundances indicate the influence of the Blue Nile and Atbara that have their headwaters in the volcanic rocks of the Ethiopian highlands. Kaolinite abundances indicate the influence of wadis, which contribute periodically to the suspension load of the Nile. Due to the geographical position, the climate and the sedimentary framework of the EMS is controlled by two climate systems. The long-term climate regime was governed by the African monsoon that caused major humid periods with enhanced sediment discharge at 132 to < 122 ka (AHP 5), 113 to 104 ka (AHP 4), and 86 to 74 ka (AHP 3). They lasted much longer than the formation of the related sapropel layers S5, S4 and S3. During the last glacial period (MIS 4-2) the long-term changes of the monsoonal system were superimposed by millennial-scale changes of an intensified mid-latitude glacial system. This climate regime caused short but pronounced drought periods in the Nile catchment, which are linked to Heinrich Events and alternate with more humid interstadials. The clay mineral record further implies that feedback mechanisms between vegetation cover and sediment discharge of the Nile are detectable but of minor importance for the sedimentary record in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea during the investigated African Humid Periods.

  17. The first fossil record of the Emesinae genus Emesopsis Uhler (Hemiptera: Heteroptera, Reduviidae) from Eocene Baltic amber.

    PubMed

    Popov, Yuri A; Ch?ond, Dominik

    2015-01-01

    Two new fossil representatives of the assassin bug family Reduviidae are described as new from Baltic amber (Upper Eocene), belonging to the genus Emesopsis of the tribe Ploiariolini (Emesinae): Emesopsis putshkovi sp. nov. and E. similis sp. nov. These representatives of the Emesinae are the oldest fossil bugs of the genus Emesopsis known so far, and reported for the first time. This genus is also briefly diagnosed. PMID:26624642

  18. †Kenyaichthyidae fam. nov. and †Kenyaichthys gen. nov. – First Record of a Fossil Aplocheiloid Killifish (Teleostei, Cyprinodontiformes)

    PubMed Central

    Altner, Melanie; Reichenbacher, Bettina

    2015-01-01

    The extant Cyprinodontiformes (killifishes) with their two suborders Cyprinodontoidei and Aplocheiloidei represent a diverse and well-studied group of fishes. However, their fossil record is comparatively sparse and has so far yielded members of the Cyprinodontoidei only. Here we report on cyprinodontiform fossils from the upper Miocene Lukeino Formation in the Tugen Hills of the Central Rift Valley of Kenya, which represent the first fossil record of an aplocheiloid killifish. A total of 169 specimens - mostly extraordinarily well preserved - and a sample of ten extant cyprinodontiform species were studied on the basis of morphometrics, meristics and osteology. A phylogenetic analysis using PAUP was also conducted for the fossils. Both the osteological data and the phylogenetic analysis provide strong evidence for the assignment of the fossils to the Aplocheiloidei, and justify the definition of the new family †Kenyaichthyidae, the new genus †Kenyaichthys and the new species †K. kipkechi sp. nov. The phylogenetic analysis unexpectedly places †Kenyaichthys gen. nov. in a sister relationship to the Rivulidae (a purely Neotropical group), a probable explanation might be lack of available synapomorphies for the Rivulidae, Nothobranchiidae and Aplocheilidae. The specimens of †K. kipkechi sp. nov. show several polymorphic characters and large overlap in meristic traits, which justifies their interpretation as a species flock in statu nascendi. Patterns of variation in neural and haemal spine dimensions in the caudal vertebrae of †Kenyaichthys gen. nov. and the extant species studied indicate that some previously suggested synapomorphies of the Cyprinodontoidei and Aplocheiloidei need to be revised. PMID:25923654

  19. Middle Holocene daily light cycle recorded in the strontium/calcium ratios of a fossil giant clam shell

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sano, Y.; Hori, M.; Takahata, N.; Shirai, K.; Watanabe, T.

    2013-12-01

    The historical record of daily light cycle in tropical and subtropical regions is short. Moreover, it remains difficult to extract this cycle in the past from natural archives such as biogenic marine carbonates. Our previous analyses of cultivated giant clam shells (Tridacna derasa) showed a diurnal variation in the Sr/Ca ratio, which is probably reflecting the daily light cycle and not the seawater temperature [1]. In order to apply the proxy method to prehistoric era, we analyzed trace elements of a fossil giant clam shell (Tridacna gigas) which was collected at the coast of the Ishigaki Island (124 09' E, 24 20' N), southern Japan. The giant clam specimen has been living in the middle Holocene, the warmest climate after the last glacial period. An inner layer part of the sample was cut and mounted in Araldite resin disk together with a carbonate standard. This species is known to form a growth line each day [2] and we found similar Sr enrichment lines to those of the cultivated clam [1] using a EPMA. The lines may facilitate age-model determination. We carried out a preliminary analysis of Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca and Ba/Ca ratios along the growth axis with a 2-micron spot at 2 micron interval using a laterally high-resolution secondary ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS) installed at Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo. The Sr/Ca ratios of dark and relatively opaque area, which is probably corresponding to a cool winter [3], show striking diurnal cycle. This cycle generally consist of narrow lines of high Sr/Ca ratio and broad increments of low ratio. These variations are consistent with those of the cultivated clam [1] and pointing to the possibility of reconstructing daily light cycle at a few hour timescale in the middle Holocene. The Mg/Ca and Ba/Ca ratios also appear to indicate a diurnal cycle, but the amplitude is rather large and highly irregular, suggesting a strong biological control. Light-enhanced calcification and elemental transportation processes, in giant clam and symbiotic algae, may explain these synchronized variations [4]. [1] Sano et al. (2012) Nature Commun. 3, 761. [2] Watanabe and Oba (1999) JGR 104, 667-674. [3] Bonham (1965) Science 149, 300-302. [4] Hippler et al. (2013) PPP 373, 75-87.

  20. Dental development in living and fossil orangutans.

    PubMed

    Smith, Tanya M

    2016-05-01

    Numerous studies have investigated molar development in extant and fossil hominoids, yet relatively little is known about orangutans, the only great ape with an extensive fossil record. This study characterizes aspects of dental development, including cuspal enamel daily secretion rate, long-period line periodicities, cusp-specific molar crown formation times and extension rates, and initiation and completion ages in living and fossil orangutan postcanine teeth. Daily secretion rate and periodicities in living orangutans are similar to previous reports, while crown formation times often exceed published values, although direct comparisons are limited. One wild Bornean individual died at 4.5 years of age with fully erupted first molars (M1s), while a captive individual and a wild Sumatran individual likely erupted their M1s around five or six years of age. These data underscore the need for additional samples of orangutans of known sex, species, and developmental environment to explore potential sources of variation in molar emergence and their relationship to life history variables. Fossil orangutans possess larger crowns than living orangutans, show similarities in periodicities, and have faster daily secretion rate, longer crown formation times, and slower extension rates. Molar crown formation times exceed reported values for other fossil apes, including Gigantopithecus blacki. When compared to African apes, both living and fossil orangutans show greater cuspal enamel thickness values and periodicities, resulting in longer crown formation times and slower extension rates. Several of these variables are similar to modern humans, representing examples of convergent evolution. Molar crown formation does not appear to be equivalent among extant great apes or consistent within living and fossil members of Pongo or Homo. PMID:27178461

  1. The Lake Bosumtwi Drilling Project: A 1 Ma West African Paleoclimate Record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Peck, J. A.; Heil, C.; King, J. W.; Scholz, C. A.; Shanahan, T. M.; Overpeck, J. T.; Fox, P. A.; Amoako, P. Y.; Forman, S. L.; Koeberl, C.; Milkereit, B.

    2005-12-01

    Lake Bosumtwi occupies a 1.07 Ma impact crater located in Ghana, West Africa centered at 06*32'N and 01*25'W. This 78 m deep, hydrologically-closed lake has a water budget extremely sensitive to the precipitation/evapotranspiration balance and is located in the path of the seasonal migration of the ITCZ. Therefore, Lake Bosumtwi is ideally situated to provide a long record of change in North African monsoon strength. In addition, the stratified water column allows for the preservation of finely-laminated sediments and the potential for high-resolution (annual) paleoclimate reconstruction. Using the GLAD800 lake drilling system, five drill sites were occupied along a water-depth transect in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the lake level history. At these five sites, a total of 14 separate holes were drilled yielding a total sediment recovery of 1,833 m. The shallow water drill sites consist of alternating laminated lacustrine mud (deepwater environment), moderately-sorted sand (nearshore beach environment) and sandy gravel (fluvial or lake marginal environments). These sediment cores and seismic reflection profiles are being used to construct a basin-wide stratigraphic framework, in order to extend further back in time the present Bosumtwi lake level histories obtained from highstand terraces and short piston cores. At a deep water site, the complete 1 Ma lacustrine stratigraphic section was recovered in 294 m deep holes that ended in impact-glass bearing, accretionary lapilli fallout representing the initial days of sedimentation. The lowermost lacustrine sediment is a bioturbated, light-gray mud with abundant gastropod shells indicating that a shallow-water oxic lake environment was established in the crater. Much of the overlying 294 m of mud is laminated thus these sediment cores will provide a unique 1 million year record of tropical African climate change. Two contrasting litholgies identified in the dated, upper part of the deep water drill hole, were deposited over the last glacial cycle. Increased insolation forcing and the resulting intensified summer monsoon produce a positive moisture balance and high lake levels. Organic-rich sediment with a low-coercivity magnetic mineralogy accumulated during these wet intervals. However, at times of decreased summer insolation and the accompanying weaker summer monsoon, lake levels fell and a mineral rich sediment with lower organic content accumulated. During these dry periods aerosol dust export from North Africa increased greatly contributing to a high-coercivity magnetic mineral assemblage in Bosumtwi. On precessional time scales, the Bosumtwi profiles of organic carbon and rock magnetic parameters are readily correlated with the Vostok methane record thus reflecting an important role for equatorial African wetlands on regulating methane variability. Ongoing work will utilize the varved sediment record to address the abruptness of environmental change in West Africa as well as connections between high and low-latitude climate change.

  2. First fossil chimpanzee.

    PubMed

    McBrearty, Sally; Jablonski, Nina G

    2005-09-01

    There are thousands of fossils of hominins, but no fossil chimpanzee has yet been reported. The chimpanzee (Pan) is the closest living relative to humans. Chimpanzee populations today are confined to wooded West and central Africa, whereas most hominin fossil sites occur in the semi-arid East African Rift Valley. This situation has fuelled speculation regarding causes for the divergence of the human and chimpanzee lineages five to eight million years ago. Some investigators have invoked a shift from wooded to savannah vegetation in East Africa, driven by climate change, to explain the apparent separation between chimpanzee and human ancestral populations and the origin of the unique hominin locomotor adaptation, bipedalism. The Rift Valley itself functions as an obstacle to chimpanzee occupation in some scenarios. Here we report the first fossil chimpanzee. These fossils, from the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya, show that representatives of Pan were present in the East African Rift Valley during the Middle Pleistocene, where they were contemporary with an extinct species of Homo. Habitats suitable for both hominins and chimpanzees were clearly present there during this period, and the Rift Valley did not present an impenetrable barrier to chimpanzee occupation. PMID:16136135

  3. First evidence of a bipartite medial cuneiform in the hominin fossil record: a case report from the Early Pleistocene site of Dmanisi

    PubMed Central

    Jashashvili, Tea; Ponce de León, Marcia S; Lordkipanidze, David; Zollikofer, Christoph P E

    2010-01-01

    A medial cuneiform exhibiting complete bipartition was discovered at the Early Pleistocene site of Dmanisi, Georgia. The specimen is the oldest known instance of this anatomical variant in the hominin fossil record. Here we compare developmental variation of the medial cuneiform in fossil hominins, extant humans and great apes, and discuss potential implications of bipartition for hominin foot phylogeny and function. Complete bipartition is rare among modern humans (< 1%); incomplete bipartition was found in 2 of 200 examined great ape specimens and also appears in the form of a divided distal articular surface in the Stw573c Australopithecus africanus specimen. Although various developmental pathways lead to medial cuneiform bipartition, it appears that the bipartite bone does not deviate significantly from normal overall morphology. Together, these data indicate that bipartition represents a phyletically old developmental variant of the medial cuneiform, which does not, however, affect the species-specific morphology and function of this bone. PMID:20579174

  4. Influence of changes in climate, sea level, and depositional systems on the fossil record of the Neoproterozoic-early Cambrian metazoan radiation, Australia

    SciTech Connect

    Mount, J.F.; McDonald, C. )

    1992-11-01

    On the Australian continent the fossil record of the initial appearance and radiation of higher metazoans is strongly influenced by the distribution of facies suitable for fossil preservation. The limited stratigraphic range of the [open quotes]Ediacaran[close quotes] fauna, the seemingly abrupt appearance and radiation of Cambrian-aspect traces, and the apparently late appearance of skeletogenous organisms are all functions of the spatial and temporal distributions of key habitats. The principal controls on the formation of these habitats appear to have been changes in climate and siliciclastic sediment supply coupled with cyclic changes in sea level. Aspects of the artifactual bias documented in Australia are recognized (but rarely documented) in Precambrian-Cambrian boundary sections worldwide. This bias may ultimately form a major stumbling block to detailed reconstruction of early metazoan evolution. 43 refs., 3 figs.

  5. First evidence of a bipartite medial cuneiform in the hominin fossil record: a case report from the Early Pleistocene site of Dmanisi.

    PubMed

    Jashashvili, Tea; Ponce de León, Marcia S; Lordkipanidze, David; Zollikofer, Christoph P E

    2010-06-01

    A medial cuneiform exhibiting complete bipartition was discovered at the Early Pleistocene site of Dmanisi, Georgia. The specimen is the oldest known instance of this anatomical variant in the hominin fossil record. Here we compare developmental variation of the medial cuneiform in fossil hominins, extant humans and great apes, and discuss potential implications of bipartition for hominin foot phylogeny and function. Complete bipartition is rare among modern humans (< 1%); incomplete bipartition was found in 2 of 200 examined great ape specimens and also appears in the form of a divided distal articular surface in the Stw573c Australopithecus africanus specimen. Although various developmental pathways lead to medial cuneiform bipartition, it appears that the bipartite bone does not deviate significantly from normal overall morphology. Together, these data indicate that bipartition represents a phyletically old developmental variant of the medial cuneiform, which does not, however, affect the species-specific morphology and function of this bone. PMID:20579174

  6. The Strontium Isotope Composition of Fossil Hackberry Seed Carbonate and Tooth Enamel as a Potential Record of Soil Erosion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cooke, M. J.; Stern, L. A.; Banner, J. L.

    2001-12-01

    The Edwards Plateau in central Texas has experienced significant soil erosion since the Last Glacial Maximum. In contrast to the thin soils that mantle the Cretaceous limestone bedrock of the modern Edwards Plateau, Quaternary fossils of burrowing mammals contained within several central Texas cave deposits suggest soil cover was much thicker in the latest Pleistocene and early Holocene. As the landscape is denuded, the Cretaceous limestone bedrock is exhumed and becomes a more important source of exchangeable Sr to the soils. Therefore, the Sr isotope composition of the soil and organisms deriving nutrients from the soil, such as plants and herbivores, should become more like the Sr isotope composition of the bedrock as erosion continues. Because the marine limestone bedrock has a lower 87Sr/86Sr value than the soil, the exchangeable soil Sr should evolve to lower 87Sr/86Sr values through time resulting in a decrease in the 87Sr/86Sr of plants and animals deriving nutrients from the soil. In order to test this hypothesis, terrestrial fossils from an extensively dated Quaternary deposit within Hall's Cave, Kerr County, Texas were analyzed by TIMS for 87Sr/86Sr. The materials analyzed include aragonitic fossil hackberry seeds and rodent tooth enamel. Results indicate an overall decrease in the 87Sr/86Sr of fossil hackberry seed aragonite and rodent tooth enamel over the last 16,000 years, with the highest rate of decrease in the 87Sr/86Sr of fossil hackberry seeds (0.70982 to 0.70841) occurring between approximately 16,000 and 10,000 Y.B.P. This decrease in the 87Sr/86Sr is interpreted as evidence for an increase in the proportion of bedrock-derived Sr to the soils, corresponding to a general decrease in soil thickness. An increase in aridity or an increase in the seasonality of precipitation during this time could account for the post-glacial soil erosion in central Texas. This study suggests that the 87Sr/86Sr of fossils may be a useful proxy for paleo soil depth. Additionally, when applied to central Texas cave fossils, this technique may be able to provide a better understanding of the geomorphic and environmental history of the Edwards Plateau.

  7. Paleovegetation changes recorded by n-alkyl lipids bound in macromolecules of plant fossils and kerogens from the Cretaceous sediments in Japan

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miyata, Y.; Sawada, K.; Nakamura, H.; Takashima, R.; Takahashi, M.

    2014-12-01

    Resistant macromolecules composing living plant tissues tend to be preserved through degradation and diagenesis, hence constituate major parts of sedimentary plant-derived organic matter (kerogen), and their monomer compositions vary widely among different plant taxa, organs and growth stages. Thus, analysis of such macromolecule may serve as new technique for paleobotanical evaluation distinctive from classical paleobotnical studies depends on morphological preservation of fossils. In the present study, we analyzed plant fossils and kerogens in sediments from the Cretaceous strata in Japan to examine chemotaxonomic characteristics of fossil macromolecules and to reconstruct paleovegetation change by kerogen analysis. The kerogens were separated from the powdered sediments of Cretaceous Yezo Group, Hokkaido, Japan. All kerogens have been confirmed to be mostly originated from land plant tissues by microscopic observation. Mummified angiosperm and gymnosperm fossil leaves were separated from carbonaceous sandstone of the Cretaceous Ashizawa Formation, Futaba Group. The kerogens and plant fossils were extracted with methanol and dichloromethane, and were subsequently refluxed under 110°C to remove free compounds completely. The residues are hydrolyzed by KOH/methanol under 110°C. These released compounds are analyzed by GC-MS. As main hydrolyzed products (ester-bound molecular units) from all kerogens, C10-C28 n-alkanoic acids and C10-C30 n-alkanols were detected. Recent studies on the hydrolysis products of plant tissues suggested the long chain (>C20) n-alkanols were predominantly abundant in deciduous broadleaved angiosperms. Correspondingly, the stratigraphic variation of the ratios of long chain (>C20) n-alkanols to fatty acids was concordant with the variation of angiosperm/gymnosperm ratios recorded by land plant-derived terpenoid biomarkers. In addition, we found that the long chain n-alkanols/fatty acids ratio in the angiosperm fossil leaf was significantly higher than that of conifer fossil leaf from Ashizawa coal bed. From these results, we propose that the proportions of long chain n-alkanols released from terrigenous kerogens are applicable for paleovegetation reconstruction.

  8. The origin and early evolution of Sauria: reassessing the permian Saurian fossil record and the timing of the crocodile-lizard divergence.

    PubMed

    Ezcurra, Martín D; Scheyer, Torsten M; Butler, Richard J

    2014-01-01

    Sauria is the crown-group of Diapsida and is subdivided into Lepidosauromorpha and Archosauromorpha, comprising a high percentage of the diversity of living and fossil tetrapods. The split between lepidosauromorphs and archosauromorphs (the crocodile-lizard, or bird-lizard, divergence) is considered one of the key calibration points for molecular analyses of tetrapod phylogeny. Saurians have a very rich Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil record, but their late Paleozoic (Permian) record is problematic. Several Permian specimens have been referred to Sauria, but the phylogenetic affinity of some of these records remains questionable. We reexamine and review all of these specimens here, providing new data on early saurian evolution including osteohistology, and present a new morphological phylogenetic dataset. We support previous studies that find that no valid Permian record for Lepidosauromorpha, and we also reject some of the previous referrals of Permian specimens to Archosauromorpha. The most informative Permian archosauromorph is Protorosaurus speneri from the middle Late Permian of Western Europe. A historically problematic specimen from the Late Permian of Tanzania is redescribed and reidentified as a new genus and species of basal archosauromorph: Aenigmastropheus parringtoni. The supposed protorosaur Eorasaurus olsoni from the Late Permian of Russia is recovered among Archosauriformes and may be the oldest known member of the group but the phylogenetic support for this position is low. The assignment of Archosaurus rossicus from the latest Permian of Russia to the archosauromorph clade Proterosuchidae is supported. Our revision suggests a minimum fossil calibration date for the crocodile-lizard split of 254.7 Ma. The occurrences of basal archosauromorphs in the northern (30°N) and southern (55°S) parts of Pangea imply a wider paleobiogeographic distribution for the group during the Late Permian than previously appreciated. Early archosauromorph growth strategies appear to be more diverse than previously suggested based on new data on the osteohistology of Aenigmastropheus. PMID:24586565

  9. The Origin and Early Evolution of Sauria: Reassessing the Permian Saurian Fossil Record and the Timing of the Crocodile-Lizard Divergence

    PubMed Central

    Ezcurra, Martín D.; Scheyer, Torsten M.; Butler, Richard J.

    2014-01-01

    Sauria is the crown-group of Diapsida and is subdivided into Lepidosauromorpha and Archosauromorpha, comprising a high percentage of the diversity of living and fossil tetrapods. The split between lepidosauromorphs and archosauromorphs (the crocodile-lizard, or bird-lizard, divergence) is considered one of the key calibration points for molecular analyses of tetrapod phylogeny. Saurians have a very rich Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil record, but their late Paleozoic (Permian) record is problematic. Several Permian specimens have been referred to Sauria, but the phylogenetic affinity of some of these records remains questionable. We reexamine and review all of these specimens here, providing new data on early saurian evolution including osteohistology, and present a new morphological phylogenetic dataset. We support previous studies that find that no valid Permian record for Lepidosauromorpha, and we also reject some of the previous referrals of Permian specimens to Archosauromorpha. The most informative Permian archosauromorph is Protorosaurus speneri from the middle Late Permian of Western Europe. A historically problematic specimen from the Late Permian of Tanzania is redescribed and reidentified as a new genus and species of basal archosauromorph: Aenigmastropheus parringtoni. The supposed protorosaur Eorasaurus olsoni from the Late Permian of Russia is recovered among Archosauriformes and may be the oldest known member of the group but the phylogenetic support for this position is low. The assignment of Archosaurus rossicus from the latest Permian of Russia to the archosauromorph clade Proterosuchidae is supported. Our revision suggests a minimum fossil calibration date for the crocodile-lizard split of 254.7 Ma. The occurrences of basal archosauromorphs in the northern (30°N) and southern (55°S) parts of Pangea imply a wider paleobiogeographic distribution for the group during the Late Permian than previously appreciated. Early archosauromorph growth strategies appear to be more diverse than previously suggested based on new data on the osteohistology of Aenigmastropheus. PMID:24586565

  10. "Fossil" Forecasting.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Brody, Michael J.; deOnis, Ann

    2001-01-01

    Presents a density study in which students calculate the density of limestone substrate to determine if the specimen contains any fossils. Explains how to make fossils and addresses national standards. (YDS)

  11. Marquee Fossils

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Clary, Renee; Wandersee, James

    2008-01-01

    Professors of an online graduate-level paleontology class developed the concept of marquee fossils--fossils that have one or more unique characteristics that capture the attention and direct observation of students. In the classroom, Marquee fossils integrate the geology, biology, and environmental science involved in the study of fossilized…

  12. Correlations of climate and plant ecology to leaf size and shape: potential proxies for the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Royer, Dana L; Wilf, Peter; Janesko, David A; Kowalski, Elizabeth A; Dilcher, David L

    2005-07-01

    The sizes and shapes (physiognomy) of fossil leaves are widely applied as proxies for paleoclimatic and paleoecological variables. However, significant improvements to leaf-margin analysis, used for nearly a century to reconstruct mean annual temperature (MAT), have been elusive; also, relationships between physiognomy and many leaf ecological variables have not been quantified. Using the recently developed technique of digital leaf physiognomy, correlations of leaf physiognomy to MAT, leaf mass per area, and nitrogen content are quantified for a set of test sites from North and Central America. Many physiognomic variables correlate significantly with MAT, indicating a coordinated, convergent evolutionary response of fewer teeth, smaller tooth area, and lower degree of blade dissection in warmer environments. In addition, tooth area correlates negatively with leaf mass per area and positively with nitrogen content. Multiple linear regressions based on a subset of variables produce more accurate MAT estimates than leaf-margin analysis (standard errors of ±2 vs. ±3°C); improvements are greatest at sites with shallow water tables that are analogous to many fossil sites. The multivariate regressions remain robust even when based on one leaf per species, and the model most applicable to fossils shows no more signal degradation from leaf fragmentation than leaf-margin analysis. PMID:21646136

  13. First Fossil Record of Alphonsea Hk. f. & T. (Annonaceae) from the Late Oligocene Sediments of Assam, India and Comments on Its Phytogeography

    PubMed Central

    Srivastava, Gaurav; Mehrotra, Rakesh C.

    2013-01-01

    A new fossil leaf impression of Alphonsea Hk. f. & T. of the family Annonaceae is described from the Late Oligocene sediments of Makum Coalfield, Assam, India. This is the first authentic record of the fossil of Alphonsea from the Tertiary rocks of South Asia. The Late Oligocene was the time of the last significant globally warm climate and the fossil locality was at 10°–15°N palaeolatitude. The known palaeoflora and sedimentological studies indicate a fluvio-marine deltaic environment with a mosaic of mangrove, fluvial, mire and lacustrine depositional environments. During the depositional period the suturing between the Indian and Eurasian plates was not complete to facilitate the plant migration. The suturing was over by the end of the Late Oligocene/beginning of Early Miocene resulting in the migration of the genus to Southeast Asia where it is growing profusely at present. The present study is in congruence with the earlier published palaeofloral and molecular phylogenetic data. The study also suggests that the Indian plate was not only a biotic ferry during its northward voyage from Gondwana to Asia but also a place for the origin of several plant taxa. PMID:23349701

  14. Holocene Asian and African Monsoon Strength Recorded in O-18 of Atmospheric Oxygen

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Severinghaus, J. P.; Beaudette, R.; Brook, E. J.

    2008-12-01

    Prior work using trapped gases in ice cores has shown that the oxygen-18/16 ratio of atmospheric molecular oxygen (δ18Oatm) is sensitive to orbital-scale monsoon and ice volume variations (Bender et al., 1994) and millennial-scale monsoon variations during Marine Isotope Stage 4 (Landais et al., 2007). Here we extend these findings with a high-resolution record from the Siple Dome ice core, West Antarctica, covering the last 60 kyr. The early Holocene sample resolution is ~30 yr and precision is ±0.009‰, revealing previously unrecognized centennial-scale variations in δ18Oatm. Removal of the seawater δ18O record (Waelbroeck et al., 2002) yields a record of past changes in the Dole Effect, the difference between the δ18O of air and seawater (+23.8‰ today). A further calculation using the derivative of the δ18Oatm data and an assumed 1000-yr O2 turnover time allows a deconvolution of the implied effective value of δ18O of O2 introduced to the atmosphere by the terrestrial biosphere (δ18Oland). Photosynthesis transfers the δ18O of chloroplast water (H218O/H216O) directly to the O2 that is produced (Guy et al., 1997). Strong monsoons are expected to produce low values of δ18Oland and thus a weak Dole Effect by 1) the low δ18O of heavy rainfall, 2) weak evaporative enrichment of 18O in leaf water due to the high humidity in which monsoon photosynthesis generally occurs, and 3) weak respiratory fractionation in wet tropical soils (Angert et al., 2003). In fact, our calculated δ18Oland correlates surprisingly well with Asian monsoon strength indicators such as the Dongge Cave record (Wang et al., 2005) at periods >0.2 kyr, except at 6 ka, where a prominent increase in δ18Oland coincides with the drying of the Sahara. These observations suggest that δ18Oland from ice cores may be a useful proxy of past Asian and African monsoon variations that integrates over large spatial scales (because the atmosphere is well-mixed, and photosynthesis is ubiquitous). Interestingly, δ18Oland suggests strengthening monsoons over the past ~2 kyr, probably caused by the upturn in May-June 30°N insolation, which may obviate the need to call for early anthropogenic emissions to explain rising methane in the last 2 millennia (Ruddiman, 2003).

  15. A comparison of death recording by health centres and civil registration in South Africans receiving antiretroviral treatment

    PubMed Central

    Johnson, Leigh F; Dorrington, Rob E; Laubscher, Ria; Hoffmann, Christopher J; Wood, Robin; Fox, Matthew P; Cornell, Morna; Schomaker, Michael; Prozesky, Hans; Tanser, Frank; Davies, Mary-Ann; Boulle, Andrew

    2015-01-01

    Introduction There is uncertainty regarding the completeness of death recording by civil registration and by health centres in South Africa. This paper aims to compare death recording by the two systems, in cohorts of South African patients receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART). Methods Completeness of death recording was estimated using a capture–recapture approach. Six ART programmes linked their patient record systems to the vital registration system using civil identity document (ID) numbers and provided data comparing the outcomes recorded in patient files and in the vital registration. Patients were excluded if they had missing/invalid IDs or had transferred to other ART programmes. Results After exclusions, 91,548 patient records were included. Of deaths recorded in patients files after 2003, 94.0% (95% CI: 93.3–94.6%) were recorded by civil registration, with completeness being significantly higher in urban areas, older adults and females. Of deaths recorded by civil registration after 2003, only 35.0% (95% CI: 34.2–35.8%) were recorded in patient files, with this proportion dropping from 60% in 2004–2005 to 30% in 2010 and subsequent years. Recording of deaths in patient files was significantly higher in children and in locations within 50 km of the health centre. When the information from the two systems was combined, an estimated 96.2% of all deaths were recorded (93.5% in children and 96.2% in adults). Conclusions South Africa's civil registration system has achieved a high level of completeness in the recording of mortality. However, the fraction of deaths recorded by health centres is low and information from patient records is insufficient by itself to evaluate levels and predictors of ART patient mortality. Previously documented improvements in ART mortality over time may be biased if based only on data from patient records. PMID:26685125

  16. First record of fossil wood and phytolith assemblages of the Late Pleistocene in El Palmar National Park (Argentina)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zucol, A. F.; Brea, M.; Scopel, A.

    2005-10-01

    Two paleoxylologic assemblages and two phytolith assemblages were recovered from Late Pleistocene sediments of El Palmar Formation. These deposits are found in outcrops along the western margin of the Uruguay River. The spectra of taxa obtained in both sets by different methods is complementary. The fossil remains are characterized in terms of floristic composition and paleoclimate. Seven families are recognized: Podostemaceae, Myrtaceae, Anacardiaceae, Mimosoideae, Arecaceae, Poaceace, and Cyperaceae. Sponge siliceous spicules also have been found in these assemblages. The state of preservation of the phytoliths and their weathering degree is analyzed. These studies can be used as a potential paleoecological tool for alluvial sediments. The comparison of fossil assemblages with modern analogs clarifies the paleoecological requirements and composition of two paleocommunities, one dominated by woody forests and the other by palms. The climatic conditions inferred from the reconstructed vegetation and sedimentary deposits indicate a temperate-warm, humid climate. The results constitute the first evidence of the floral diversity of the vegetation in El Palmar National Park during the Late Pleistocene.

  17. Palaeolithic use of fossil combustible linked to singular environmental conditions : the long term el Kowm record (Syria).

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Courty, M.-A.; Le Tensorer, J.-M.; Boëda, E.; Muhesen, S.; Alsakhel, E.; Wegmüller, F.

    2012-04-01

    Identifying the adaptation of hunter-gatherer communities to particular situations that provided natural resources is a major concern for multidisciplinary team studying archaeological contexts. This challenge is illustrated in the desertic El Kowm basin in central Syria by data from Hummal and El Kowm Paleolithic sites. The sites form prominent mounds at artesian springs resulting from recurrent episodes of lacustrine, limnic and aeolian sedimentation in pseudo-karstic depressions. The few meter sequences provide semi-continuous succession of archaeological levels from the Oldest Palaeolithic (Oldowan) to the early Neolithic period. This long term continuity of occupation is partly due to attracting conditions due to the profusion of water from epithermal artesian wells during periods of high water recharge. In addition, we document here the unique potential of this endoreic basin to have accumulated singular fossil combustible of high energy value during particular environmental episodes. The latter are represented by the recurrence of distinctive black organogenic facies showing a contrasting micro stratification formed of interlayered grey calcareous silty clay, dark brown organic rich clay and dull orange clay. Spatial excavation has shown the unique preservation of Palaeolithic occupation surfaces in association to the microstratified facies. High resolution sampling and multi-proxy analysis have allowed explaining the formation of the microstratified facies from rapid changes of environmental conditions in response to contrasting fluctuations of atmospheric dust loading, precipitation events, rainwater quality and evapotranspiration. Organogenic microfacies formed at different time periods share common compositional assemblage and structural behaviour: occurrence of exotic fine sand-sized debris formed of metal-rich carbonaceous components with polymer, fine charcoal, vitrous carbon, carbon fibres, and exotic rock clasts with a metal-rich carbonaceous coating; highly stable microstructure and low wettability. Based on their analytical properties, the carbonaceous polymorphs and the associated mineral components are shown to deriving from fossil combustible of stratospheric origin. The comparison with modern analogues (cf. Courty et al., 2012) has provided keys to explaining the organogenic microfacies from accumulation episodes of exotic stratospheric aerosols in response to serial meteor explosion at high altitude. Geogenic markers and microfacies pattern show four situations: (1) nearly intact ancient surfaces with pulverized carbonaceous composite debris that trace the local effects of meteor explosion ; (2) secondary concentrations expressing accumulation of stratospheric aerosols from the heavy rainfall events subsequent to the meteor explosions; (3) relictual concentrations resulting from selective accumulation of the most resistant components by chemical and physical erosion along to the fossilization; (4) human-controlled concentrations of the unusual debris indicating intentional collect, use and transformation of the singular fossil combustible and related materials. Ancient humans are thus suggested to have regularly exploited the local sources of the singular fossil combustible that formed during episodes of serial cosmic explosions. The direct effect of increased atmospheric dust loading on precipitation regime explains the apparent synchrony between occupation phases and local climate changes. These are simply two distinctive responses to a common cause. Courty, Benoît and Vaillant (2012). Possible interaction of meteor explosion with stratospheric aerosols on cloud nucleation based on 2011 observations. Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 14, EGU2012.

  18. African Dust Fertilizing the Amazon Rainforest: An Assessment with Seven-year Record of CALIOP Measurements

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yu, H.; Chin, M.; Yuan, T.; Bian, H.; Prospero, J. M.; Omar, A. H.; Remer, L. A.; Winker, D. M.; Yang, Y.; Zhang, Y.; Zhang, Z.

    2014-12-01

    The productivity of Amazon rainforest is constrained by the availability of nutrients, in particular phosphorus (P). Deposition of transported African dust in boreal winter and spring is considered an important nutrient input for the Amazon Basin, though its magnitude is not well qunatified. This study provides a remote sensing observation-based estimate of dust deposition in the Amazon Basin using a 7-year (2007-2013) record of three dimensional (3D) distributions of aerosol in both cloud-free and above-cloud conditions from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP). It is estimated that the 7-year average of dust deposition into the Amazon Basin amounts to 15.1 ~ 32.1 Tg a-1 (Tg = 1012 g). This imported dust could provide 0.012 ~ 0.025 Tg P a-1 or equivalent to 12 ~ 26 g P ha-1 a-1 to fertilize the Amazon rainforest, which largely compensates the hydrological loss of P. The CLAIOP-based estimate agrees better with estimates from in-situ measurements and model simulations than what has been reported in literature. The closer agreement benefits from a more realistic geographic definition of the Amazon Basin and inclusion of meridional dust transport calculation in addition to the 3D nature of CALIOP aerosol measurements. The trans-Atlantic transport and deposition of dust shows strong interannual variations that are found to correlate with the North Atlantic Oscillation index in the winter season and anticorrelate with the prior-year Sahel Precipitation Index on an annual basis. Uncertainties associated with the estimate will also be discussed.

  19. A diverse Rancholabrean vertebrate microfauna from southern California includes the first fossil record of ensatina ( Ensatina eschscholtzii: Plethodontidae)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wake, Thomas A.; Roeder, Mark A.

    2009-11-01

    Analysis of late Pleistocene fossils recovered from near the Huntington Beach, California (USA), pier (site LACM 7679) has revealed a diverse fauna dating to approximately 40 14C ka BP. Extinct megafauna (three genera) are present; however, a microfauna including three genera of fish, five genera of amphibians, twelve genera of reptiles, two genera of birds, and ten genera of small mammals dominates the assemblage in terms of diversity. Additional identification of seven genera of non-marine mollusks and various macro- and microscopic plant remains including grasses, three families of herbs, and seven genera of trees provides a wealth of information concerning the past ecology of what is currently a coastal dune field complex. During the Rancholabrean Period, the LACM 7679 locality was approximately 10 km inland from the Pleistocene coastline and contained lush riparian zones interspersed with coastal sage scrub, a few trees, and grasslands teeming with a variety of small and large animals.

  20. Imprint of Climate Variability on Mesozoic Fossil Tree Rings: Evidences of Solar Activity Signals on Environmental Records Around 200 Million Years Ago?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Prestes, A.; Rigozo, N. R.; Nordemann, D. J. R.; Echer, E.; Vieira, L. E. A.; Souza Echer, M. P.; Wrasse, C. M.; Guarnieri, F. L.

    2014-08-01

    Evidence of the solar activity modulation of the Earth's climate has been observed on several parameters, from decadal to millennial time scales. Several proxies have been used to reconstruct the paleoclimate as well as the solar activity. The paleoclimate reconstructions are based on direct and/or indirect effects of global and regional climate conditions. The solar activity reconstructions are based on the production of the 14C isotope due to the interaction of cosmic ray flux and the Earth's atmosphere. Because trees respond to climate conditions and store 14C, they have been used as proxies for both for climate and solar activity reconstructions. The imprints of solar activity cycles dating back to 10,000 years ago have been observed on tree-ring samples using 14C data, and those dating back to 20 million years ago have been analyzed using fossil tree-growth rings. All this corresponds to the Cenozoic era. However, solar activity imprints on tree rings from earlier than that era have not been investigated yet. In this work, we showed that tree rings from the Mesozoic Era (of ~200 million years ago) recorded 11- and 22-year cycles, which may be related to solar activity cycles, and that were statistically significant at the 95 % confidence level. The fossil wood was collected in the southern region of Brazil. Our analysis of the fossils' tree-ring width series power spectra showed characteristics similar to the modern araucaria tree, with a noticeable decadal periodicity. Assuming that the Earth's climate responds to solar variability and that responses did not vary significantly over the last ~200 million years, we conclude that the solar-climate connection was likely present during the Mesozoic era.

  1. Fossil Fuels.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Crank, Ron

    This instructional unit is one of 10 developed by students on various energy-related areas that deals specifically with fossil fuels. Some topics covered are historic facts, development of fuels, history of oil production, current and future trends of the oil industry, refining fossil fuels, and environmental problems. Material in each unit may…

  2. Ediacara Fossils

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Science Teacher, 2005

    2005-01-01

    Now, a research team from Virginia Tech and Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology has discovered uniquely well-preserved fossil forms from 550-million-year-old rocks of the Ediacaran Period. The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The discovery of these unusually preserved fossils reveals unprecedented

  3. Ediacara Fossils

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Science Teacher, 2005

    2005-01-01

    Now, a research team from Virginia Tech and Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology has discovered uniquely well-preserved fossil forms from 550-million-year-old rocks of the Ediacaran Period. The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The discovery of these unusually preserved fossils reveals unprecedented…

  4. Fossil Fuels.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Crank, Ron

    This instructional unit is one of 10 developed by students on various energy-related areas that deals specifically with fossil fuels. Some topics covered are historic facts, development of fuels, history of oil production, current and future trends of the oil industry, refining fossil fuels, and environmental problems. Material in each unit may

  5. African climate change and faunal evolution during the Pliocene-Pleistocene

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    deMenocal, Peter B.

    2004-03-01

    Environmental theories of African faunal evolution state that important evolutionary changes during the Pliocene-Pleistocene interval (the last ca. 5.3 million years) were mediated by changes in African climate or shifts in climate variability. Marine sediment sequences demonstrate that subtropical African climate periodically oscillated between markedly wetter and drier conditions, paced by earth orbital variations, with evidence for step-like (±0.2 Ma) increases in African climate variability and aridity near 2.8 Ma, 1.7 Ma, and 1.0 Ma, coincident with the onset and intensification of high-latitude glacial cycles. Analysis of the best dated and most complete African mammal fossil databases indicates African faunal assemblage and, perhaps, speciation changes during the Pliocene-Pleistocene, suggesting more varied and open habitats at 2.9-2.4 Ma and after 1.8 Ma. These intervals correspond to key junctures in early hominid evolution, including the emergence of our genus Homo. Pliocene-Pleistocene shifts in African climate, vegetation, and faunal assemblages thus appear to be roughly contemporary, although detailed comparisons are hampered by sampling gaps, dating uncertainties, and preservational biases in the fossil record. Further study of possible relations between African faunal and climatic change will benefit from the accelerating pace of important new fossil discoveries, emerging molecular biomarker methods for reconstructing African paleovegetation changes, tephra correlations between terrestrial and marine sequences, as well as continuing collaborations between the paleoclimatic and paleoanthropological communities.

  6. How fragmented was the British Holocene wildwood? Perspectives on the “Vera” grazing debate from the fossil beetle record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Whitehouse, Nicki J.; Smith, David

    2010-02-01

    The reconstruction and structure of the European Holocene "wildwood" has been the focus of considerable academic debate. The ability of palaeoecological data and particularly pollen analysis to accurately reflect the density of wildwood canopy has also been widely discussed. Fossil insects, as a proxy for vegetation and landscape structure, provide a potential approach to address this argument. Here, we present a review and re-analysis of 36 early and mid-Holocene (9500-2000 cal BC) sub-fossil beetle assemblages from Britain, examining percentage values of tree, open ground and dung beetles as well as tree host data to gain an insight into vegetation structure, the role of grazing animals in driving such structure and establish independently the importance of different types of trees and associated shading in the early Holocene "wildwood". Open indicator beetle species are persistently present over the entire review period, although they fluctuate in importance. During the early Holocene (9500-6000 cal BC), these indicators are initially high, at levels which are not dissimilar to modern data from pasture woodland. However, during the latter stages of this and the next period, 6000-4000 cal BC, open ground and pasture indicators decline and are generally low compared with previously. Alongside this pattern, we see woodland indicators generally increase in importance, although there are significant local fluctuations. Levels of dung beetles are mostly low over these periods, with some exceptions to this pattern, especially towards the end of the Mesolithic and in floodplain areas. Host data associated with the fossil beetles indicate that trees associated with lighter canopy conditions such as oak, pine, hazel and birch are indeed important components of the tree canopy during the earlier Holocene (c. 9500-6000 cal BC), in accordance with much of the current pollen literature. Beetles associated with more shade-tolerant trees (such as lime and elm) become more frequent in the middle Holocene (6000-4000 cal BC) suggesting that at this stage the woodland canopy was less open than previously, although open ground and pasture areas appear to have persisted in some locations. The onset of agriculture (4000-2000 cal BC) coincides with significant fluctuations in woodland composition and taxa. This is presumably as a result of human impact, although here there are significant regional variations. There are also increases in the amounts of open ground represented and especially in the levels of dung beetles present in faunas, suggesting there is a direct relationship between the activities of grazing animals and the development of more open areas. One of the most striking aspects of this review is the variable nature of the landscape suggested by the palaeoecological data, particularly but not exclusively with the onset of agriculture: some earlier sites indicate high variability between levels of tree-associated species on the one hand and the open ground beetle fauna on the other, indicating that in some locations, open areas were of local significance and can be regarded as important features of the Holocene landscape. The role of grazing animals in creating these areas of openness was apparently minimal until the onset of the Neolithic.

  7. Fossil mammals and paleoenvironments in the Omo-Turkana Basin.

    PubMed

    Bobe, René

    2011-01-01

    Although best known for its fossil hominins, the Omo-Turkana Basin of Kenya and Ethiopia is the source of one of the best records of vertebrate evolution from the Late Cenozoic of Africa. Located near the heart of the East African Rift Valley, the basin serves as an important frame of reference for the continent. The fossil record from this region plays a key role in our efforts to understand the environmental and ecological context of human evolution in Africa. The Omo-Turkana faunal data shed light on key questions of human evolution: What kinds of environments did early humans inhabit? How did these environments change over time? What is the relationship between faunal change in East Africa and broader patterns of climatic change? PMID:22170694

  8. Osteological associations with unique tooth development in manatees (Trichechidae, Sirenia): a detailed look at modern Trichechus and a review of the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Beatty, Brian Lee; Vitkovski, Taisia; Lambert, Olivier; Macrini, Thomas E

    2012-09-01

    Modern manatees have a unique type of tooth development, continually forming identical new molars in the posterior end of each quadrant of their mouths, and then progressively moving teeth anteriorly, only to reabsorb roots and spit out worn crowns. This process is not only developmentally complex, but requires space in the oral cavity that imposes its own limitations on other uses of that space. To gain a clearer understanding of the anatomical constraints on the evolution of this unique developmental process, we identified the specialized craniodental features in modern Trichechus that permit this specialization using visual observation and CT. Furthermore, to better understand the evolution of these traits, we review the fossil record of trichechids for these traits, including CT analysis of the skull of Miosiren kocki, a possible early member of the family from the Early Miocene of Belgium. PMID:22777871

  9. Landscape planning for the future: using fossil records to independently validate potential threats, opportunities and likely future range-shifts for socio-economically valuable plant species in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Macias Fauria, M.; Willis, K. J.

    2011-12-01

    Bioclimatic Envelope Models (BEMs) for a set of socio-economically important tree species in Europe were independently validated using a hindcasting approach and fossil pollen records spanning the last 1000 years, including the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), the Little Ice Age (LIA) and the 20th Century warming (PRES). The aim was to determine the accuracy of combining BEMs and palaeoecological data to predict continental-scale changes in distribution, and the availability of fossil data to hindcast economically important species. Eight types of BEMs were implemented in this study, covering most state-of-the-art modelling techniques. Present and palaeoclimatic data were obtained from the Atmosphere-Ocean Global Circulation Model ECHO-G. Last millenium was divided into three climatically distinct periods: MWP (AD 900-1300), LIA (AD 1600-1850) and PRES (AD 1900-2000). Models were calibrated for each period and validated with climatic and pollen data from the remaining periods. Successfully validated models were projected onto a 1-degree European grid, allowing the reconstruction of past modelled species distributions. BEMs were successfully validated with independent data. Strong model performance suggested high potential for BEMs to be used to model future species distributions, and highlighted the importance of palaeoecological data to independently validate these models, taking into account the scales at which this data operates. Although valid, BEMs showed poorer performance with species heavily managed and/or growing in heterogeneous terrain or with discontinuous distributions. Last millennium in Europe was characterized by an increase of crop woody species and a decline of forest species, suggesting an increasing land use by humans. The same approach was then implemented to a set of sub-Saharan plant species of high importance as a source of food, wood, and other ecosystem services such as carbon storage or erosion protection. The African study covered most of the Holocene, including the sharp transition from wet to dry climate about 5000 yr. B.P., of crucial importance to understand the response of the savannah/desert system to large climatic shifts over a region especially sensitive to these oscillations. Validated models were projected onto ensemble climate projections for the late 21st century, providing robust predictions of the future distribution of these key plant species.

  10. Parasites in the Fossil Record: A Cretaceous Fauna with Isopod-Infested Decapod Crustaceans, Infestation Patterns through Time, and a New Ichnotaxon

    PubMed Central

    Klompmaker, Adiël A.; Artal, Pedro; van Bakel, Barry W. M.; Fraaije, René H. B.; Jagt, John W. M.

    2014-01-01

    Parasites are common in modern ecosystems and are also known from the fossil record. One of the best preserved and easily recognisable examples of parasitism in the fossil record concerns isopod-induced swellings in the branchial chamber of marine decapod crustaceans. However, very limited quantitative data on the variability of infestation percentages at the species, genus, and family levels are available. Here we provide this type of data for a mid-Cretaceous (upper Lower Cretaceous, upper Albian) reef setting at Koskobilo, northern Spain, on the basis of 874 specimens of anomurans and brachyurans. Thirty-seven specimens (4.2%), arranged in ten species, are infested. Anomurans are more heavily infested than brachyurans, variability can be high within genera, and a relationship may exist between the number of specimens and infestation percentage per taxon, possibly suggesting host-specificity. We have also investigated quantitative patterns of infestation through geological time based on 88 infested species (25 anomurans, 55 brachyurans, seven lobsters, and one shrimp), to show that the highest number of infested species can be found in the Late Jurassic, also when corrected for the unequal duration of epochs. The same Late Jurassic peak is observed for the percentage of infested decapod species per epoch. This acme is caused entirely by infested anomurans and brachyurans. Biases (taphonomic and otherwise) and causes of variability with regard to the Koskobilo assemblage and infestation patterns through time are discussed. Finally, a new ichnogenus and -species, Kanthyloma crusta, are erected to accommodate such swellings or embedment structures (bioclaustrations). PMID:24667587

  11. A high-elevation, multi-proxy biotic and environmental record of MIS 6-4 from the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site, Snowmass Village, Colorado, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Miller, Ian M.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Anderson, R. Scott; Johnson, Kirk R.; Mahan, Shannon; Ager, Thomas A.; Baker, Richard G.; Blaauw, Maarten; Bright, Jordon; Brown, Peter M.; Bryant, Bruce; Calamari, Zachary T.; Carrara, Paul E.; Michael D., Cherney; Demboski, John R.; Elias, Scott A.; Fisher, Daniel C.; Gray, Harrison J.; Haskett, Danielle R.; Honke, Jeffrey S.; Jackson, Stephen T.; Jiménez-Moreno, Gonzalo; Kline, Douglas; Leonard, Eric M.; Lifton, Nathaniel A.; Lucking, Carol; McDonald, H. Gregory; Miller, Dane M.; Muhs, Daniel R.; Nash, Stephen E.; Newton, Cody; Paces, James B.; Petrie, Lesley; Plummer, Mitchell A.; Porinchu, David F.; Rountrey, Adam N.; Scott, Eric; Sertich, Joseph J. W.; Sharpe, Saxon E.; Skipp, Gary L.; Strickland, Laura E.; Stucky, Richard K.; Thompson, Robert S.; Wilson, Jim

    2014-01-01

    In North America, terrestrial records of biodiversity and climate change that span Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 are rare. Where found, they provide insight into how the coupling of the ocean–atmosphere system is manifested in biotic and environmental records and how the biosphere responds to climate change. In 2010–2011, construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado (USA) revealed a nearly continuous, lacustrine/wetland sedimentary sequence that preserved evidence of past plant communities between ~ 140 and 55 ka, including all of MIS 5. At an elevation of 2705 m, the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site also contained thousands of well-preserved bones of late Pleistocene megafauna, including mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths, horses, camels, deer, bison, black bear, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. In addition, the site contained more than 26,000 bones from at least 30 species of small animals including salamanders, otters, muskrats, minks, rabbits, beavers, frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, and birds. The combination of macro- and micro-vertebrates, invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic plant macrofossils, a detailed pollen record, and a robust, directly dated stratigraphic framework shows that high-elevation ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are climatically sensitive and varied dramatically throughout MIS 5.

  12. A high-elevation, multi-proxy biotic and environmental record of MIS 6–4 from the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site, Snowmass Village, Colorado, USA

    SciTech Connect

    Ian M. Miller; Mitchell A. Plummer; Various Others

    2014-10-01

    In North America, terrestrial records of biodiversity and climate change that span Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 are rare. Where found, they provide insight into how the coupling of the ocean–atmosphere system is manifested in biotic and environmental records and how the biosphere responds to climate change. In 2010–2011, construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado (USA) revealed a nearly continuous, lacustrine/wetland sedimentary sequence that preserved evidence of past plant communities between ~140 and 55 ka, including all of MIS 5. At an elevation of 2705 m, the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site also contained thousands of well-preserved bones of late Pleistocene megafauna, including mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths, horses, camels, deer, bison, black bear, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. In addition, the site contained more than 26,000 bones from at least 30 species of small animals including salamanders, otters, muskrats, minks, rabbits, beavers, frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, and birds. The combination of macro- and micro-vertebrates, invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic plant macrofossils, a detailed pollen record, and a robust, directly dated stratigraphic framework shows that high-elevation ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are climatically sensitive and varied dramatically throughout MIS 5

  13. The Late Pleistocene-Holocene community development in Central and SE-Europe in direct fossil record: scope of the approach, common patterns and inter-regional differences.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Horacek, Ivan; Lozek, Vojen

    2010-05-01

    The information provided by modern instrumental approaches (molecular phylogeography, ancient DNA analyses, large scale radiocarbon datings etc.) refined the knowledge on Late Quaternary faunal development and range history of particular taxa in essential way. Nevertheless, the direct fossil record remains still an essential substrate in study of that topics, and to reveal all the information, that it may provide, and integrate it with the outputs of the other approaches presents one of the essential aim of the present meeting. Unfortunately, the immediate use of fossil record for the paleoecologic and paleobiogeographic inferences is often limited by its fragmentarity (both in temporal and spatial respects), taphonomic influences and/or locally specific post-sedimentary effects which all may bias it in a considerable degree. Hence, each particular record is to be carefully reexamined in respect to all factor which may bias it - unfortunately, often it is not too easy to respond that task, particularly when the record is retrived from secondary sources. It should also be remembered that the records representing narrow time slices without a robust lithostratigraphic context do not provide any information on the historical and contextual setting of the respective faunal situation. Such information that is essential for reconstructions of paleobiogeography of community development and similar locally-sensitive phenomena can only be retrived from the continuous sedimentary series which establish the sequence of particular faunal events by direct superposition. A sufficiently dense network of such series provides than a possibility of direct inter-regional comparisons and a high resolution information on the paleobiogeography of the Late Pleistocene-Holocene rearrangements of mammalian communities, local variation in history of particular species and its community context. We illustrate productivity of such approach on with aid of the fossil record obtained from continuous sedimentary sequences from different regions of Czech Republic and Slovakia (850 community samples, 29,800 MNI) and neighbouring countries of Central Europe. Despite common general trends we demonstrated stricking local and regional specificities. Among other they include (a) continuous survival of several woodland elements (Clethrionomys glareolus, Sorex araneus, Micotus subterraneus, Microtus agrestis) throughout Weichselian (including LGM) in the Carpathians, (b) prolonged survival of the glacial elements Ochotona pusilla and Microtus gregalis in Pannonian basin and (c) Dicrostonyx gulielmi in the Carpathian foredeep, contrasting to (d) the early disappearance of them in S-Germany and Bohemia, and (e) similar difference were found also in other cenologic traits. While the glacial communities were nearly homogenous in their structure throughout whole the region, the Holocene development produced a considerable faunal provincialism, which was the most pronounced during Boreal. In contrast to central Europe, the available sequences from the SE-Europe and Asia Minor show only minute faunal changes during the Vistulian and Holocene, no essential rearrangements in community structure were observed (at least as the core species are concerned) and except for Lagurus no glacial immigrant did invade the region. At the same time a degree of local provincialism was continuously high and, in a regional scale, it continuously exceeded that of the Boreal central Europe.

  14. The Mudfish and the European: An African Record of the Age of Discovery.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Vess, Deborah

    1997-01-01

    Explores the native artwork of the Benin people and discusses how it can be used to document an African perspective to the "Age of Discovery." Portugal established trade with Benin (a small country on the west coast of Africa) in 1486. Includes illustrations and suggested student activities. (MJP)

  15. Southeast African records reveal a coherent shift from high- to low-latitude forcing mechanisms along the east African margin across last glacial-interglacial transition

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chevalier, Manuel; Chase, Brian M.

    2015-10-01

    Late Quaternary climate variability in the southern African subtropics is still only poorly resolved, with significant complexity and apparent contradictions in the regional dataset. To more effectively interpret and synthesize key regional records, we reanalysed the data from 13 pollen sequences from the summer rainfall zone of South Africa spanning the last 45,000 years, obtaining directly comparable quantitative reconstructions of mean annual temperature and summer rainfall. Temperature reconstructions from across the region provide consistent results, with all sites reflecting trends observed in southwest Indian Ocean sea-surface temperatures in the adjacent Mozambique Channel. Precipitation reconstructions are more heterogeneous, with two distinct subregions being identified. In the northeast, long-term trends in precipitation are determined by sea-surface and continental temperature trends, revealing a positive relationship between temperature and rainfall. This long-term pattern appears to be primarily driven by high northern latitude mechanisms, with direct local insolation being subordinate. Their relative impact reversed during terminal glacial period/early Holocene, at which time direct insolation forcing became the main driver of rainfall variability. Further south, in central South Africa, precipitation variability appears also to be influenced by the latitudinal position of the Southern Hemisphere westerlies, which combine with tropical flow to create tropical-temperate trough, advecting moisture into the interior. In this region, periods of maximum precipitation coincide with periods of elevated SSTs and equatorward expansions of the westerly storm track. This study allows for a fully constrained understanding of climate dynamics along the eastern African margin for the last 45,000 years, linking dynamics to drivers and describing how the climate systems evolved across the last glacial-interglacial transition.

  16. A rock-magnetic study of coral skeletons: A record of African dust deposition in the Caribbean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nigro, P. M.; Clement, B. M.; Halley, R.; Helmle, K.; Swart, P.; Dodge, R.

    2008-05-01

    Aeolian African dust from the Saharan-Sahel deserts significantly influences the climate and ecology of the Caribbean region. Large summer dust storms produce mass quantities of air-born, clay-rich material (containing significant iron-oxide components), that are transported over the Atlantic Ocean and deposited in the Caribbean. We present here the results of a rock magnetic study of cores of Scleractinian corals, including a Montastraea annularis collected in Culebra, Puerto Rico on July of 1991, a M. faveolata collected off the coast of St. Vincent (Bequia) on November of 2002, and a Siderastrea radians collected off the coast of Cape Verde on July of 2002. Thin slabs (~5mm) were cut from these cores and x-rayed to reveal annual density banding. Small samples centered over each annual high-density band were cut from the slabs. These samples were then subjected to a series of standard rock magnetic experiments, including Anhysteretic Remanent Magnetization (ARM) acquisition and demagnetization, and Isothermal Remanent Magnetization (IRM) acquisition and demagnetization. Records of both ARMs and IRMs reveal coherent signals that vary with coral age. The IRM acquisition curves demonstrate the presence of two carriers of magnetization in most samples; a low-coercivity component consistent with the presence of magnetite or maghemite and a high-coercivity component consistent with the presence of hematite. Unmixing the IRM acquisition curves differentiates the magnetic components and yields a record of high-coercivity input that we interpret as a record of African dust. Preliminary data from the M. annularis core show a link between high and low variability in the high-coercivity component when compared with the historical record of dust flux to the Caribbean and with the Soudano-Sahel Precipitation Index (SSPI) over a time period of fifty years (1941-1990). High variability is displayed from 1941 through 1950 and 1965 through 1990 whereas low variability is displayed from 1951 through 1964. Because the record of measured African dust only extends to the mid 1960s, rock-magnetic studies of coral may provide a viable approach for assessing the effects of dust events on past climates and ecology.

  17. Pollen dispersal over complex terrain: How does anisotropic airborne pollen transport affect interpretation of fossil pollen records? A case study in Northern Patagonia.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pérez, Claudio; Bianchi, María Martha; Gassmann, Marisa; Pisso, Ignacio

    2014-05-01

    Accumulated pollen in stratified fossil reservoirs is used to infer temporal changes in vegetation composition. Transport and dispersal by winds are known to introduce large biases in the interpretation of polynic records. In order to calibrate the models used to infer information about past species distributions, human activities and climate, contemporary time series of polynic records are assessed and modelled. In this study we analyse measurements collected hourly in Bariloche, Argentina (41° 10' S, 71° 15' W, 850 masl) of the species Weinmannia trichosperma, a characteristic forest tree which grows only the western (Chilean) slopes of the Andes, but not on the eastern (Argentinian) slopes where the measurements were collected. Instead of the simplistic Gaussian plume mixing model that is usually employed by the palynological community, we apply a full 3D Lagrangian dispersion model to interpret the observations and assess the impact of long-range transport over the Andean mountain range. The Lagrangian calculation of the origins of the air masses (the "backward footprint") is consistent not only with the Chilean Weinmania pollen measurements but also with a set of species only found on the dryer steppe located to the east of the measurement site in Argentina. The agreement of the modelling results indicates that significant interpretation mistakes may arise from inconsistent transport treatment. We also discuss the further application of inverse trajectory modelling to the estimation of source intensity.

  18. Magnetic Properties of Sediments from IODP Expedition 311 - Cascadia Margin Gas Hydrates: Records of Fossil Sulphate Methane Interface?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Enkin, R. J.; Baker, J.; Esteban, L.; Mullin, A. J.; Paterson, B.; Hamilton, T. S.; Michael, R.

    2006-12-01

    The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) expedition 311 sampled a transect across the Cascadia continental margin of North America to study the occurrence of gas hydrates. Magnetic properties are sensitive to the diagenetic history, and particularly the redox state associated with the transport of methane and the creation of gas hydrates. Additionally, they offer the possiblility of a remote sensing method to explore for gas hydrates deposits. Aboard the Joides Resolution, remanence and magnetic susceptibility measurement were made on recovered core and 1692 discrete samples were taken, approximately every 50 cm, for further study at the Geological Survey of Canada - Pacific laboratory. Magnetic remanence, hysteresis loops, isothermal remanent magnetization acquisition curves and thermomagnetic variation of susceptibility were measured to characterize the mineralogy, domain state, and direction of magnetization of the magnetic carriers. Almost all samples hold normal polarity remanence, except in two holes (1327C and 1329C) which have ~ 30m reverse polarity intervals. Cores taken with the Extended Core Barrel usually are overprinted by a large vertical remanence overprint. Throughout the collection we observe two distinct magnetic behaviors: type-A and type-B. These behaviors are relatively uniform within depth intervals of up to several 10s of meters and are apparently unrelated to present gas hydrate concentration as estimated from electric resistivity variations. Type-A samples are an order of magnitude stronger than type-B samples in saturation magnetization and magnetic susceptibility. They also have lower magnetic coercivity, multidomain coercivity ratios, little superparamagnetism, and Curie temperatures of 580°C. The type-A samples are interpreted to hold primary detrital magnetite. The type-B samples have single-domain to pseudo-single domain coercivity ratios and they readily transform to a high susceptibility mineral on heating above 400°C. We interpret type-B samples to hold iron sulphides produced diagenetically from iron oxides within the sediments at the sulphate-methane interface. We hypothesize that the two magnetic behaviors record a stratigraphic and geochemical interplay between the sedimentation rate and changes in methane flux, sulphate reduction and the gas hydrate stability field with time.

  19. East African mid-Holocene wet-dry transition recorded in palaeo-shorelines of Lake Turkana, northern Kenya Rift

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Garcin, Yannick; Melnick, Daniel; Strecker, Manfred R.; Olago, Daniel; Tiercelin, Jean-Jacques

    2012-05-01

    The 'wet' early to mid-Holocene of tropical Africa, with its enhanced monsoon, ended with an abrupt shift toward drier conditions and was ultimately replaced by a drier climate that has persisted until the present day. The forcing mechanisms, the timing, and the spatial extent of this major climatic transition are not well understood and remain the subject of ongoing research. We have used a detailed palaeo-shoreline record from Lake Turkana (Kenya) to decipher and characterise this marked climatic transition in East Africa. We present a high-precision survey of well-preserved palaeo-shorelines, new radiocarbon ages from shoreline deposits, and oxygen-isotope measurements on freshwater mollusk shells to elucidate the Holocene moisture history from former lake water-levels in this climatically sensitive region. In combination with previously published data our study shows that during the early Holocene the water-level in Lake Turkana was high and the lake overflowed temporarily into the White Nile drainage system. During the mid-Holocene (~ 5270 ± 300 cal. yr BP), however, the lake water-level fell by ~ 50 m, coeval with major episodes of aridity on the African continent. A comparison between palaeo-hydrological and archaeological data from the Turkana Basin suggests that the mid-Holocene climatic transition was associated with fundamental changes in prehistoric cultures, highlighting the significance of natural climate variability and associated periods of protracted drought as major environmental stress factors affecting human occupation in the East African Rift System.

  20. Middle Pleistocene Climate Change Recorded in Fossil Mammal Teeth from Tarija, Bolivia, and Upper Limit of the Ensenadan Land-Mammal Age

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    MacFadden, Bruce J.

    2000-07-01

    Fossiliferous middle Pleistocene sediments of the Tarija basin of southern Bolivia contain a classic Ensenadan land-mammal fauna. New carbon isotopic data reported here for 50 specimens of the grazing mammals Equus (horse) and Cuvieronius (mastodon), documented from eight stratigraphic levels at Tarija, vary significantly in the δ13C values of their teeth. The pattern of variation appears to reflect the proportion of C3 and C4 grasses eaten during colder (more C3) and warmer (more C4) times. Within age limits set by associated magnetostratigraphy, the cold periods can be correlated with particular even-numbered stages in the marine oxygen-isotope record, and the warm periods can be correlated with odd-numbered stages. The oldest fossil teeth analyzed from the Tarija section can thereby be assigned to stage 29, and the youngest to stages 17 or 15, that is; the teeth range in age from about 1.1 myr to as young as 0.7 myr. Based on correlation of the upper part of the Tarija beds to the isotopic stages, the upper limit of the Ensenadan land-mammal age is between 0.7 and 0.6 myr, which is younger than stated in most previous studies.

  1. U-Pb dated Speleothem records of Plio-Pleistocen climate variability from South African hominin bearing caves

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pickering, Robyn; Göktürk, Ozan; Badertscher, Seraina; Fleitmann, Dominik; Kramers, Jan

    2010-05-01

    We use stable isotopes of carbon and oxygen to investigate the potential palaeoclimate records from the caves near Johannesburg in South Africa. The sediments in these caves contain early human (hominin) fossils, as well as speleothem material, providing an ideal opportunity to investigate the palaeo-enviroments of our earliest ancestors. These sites are dated via uranium-lead to between 2.8 and 1.5 Ma and provide a window into changing climatic conditions, rare from both this period and region. We micro-drilled stalagmite and flowstone samples from Sterkfontein (2.8 -2.0 Ma), Swartkrans (2.4 -1.7 Ma) and Cooper's Cave (1.5 - 1.4 Ma) at 0.5mm spacing to provide a total of five high resolution records. Oxygen isotope values range from -6.5 to -3‰, clustering around -4.5‰. Carbon isotopes range from -8 to 2‰ and show more variation. Both a Hendy test and a C vs. O plot show that the deposits in question were deposited in equilibrium with their surroundings and the data can be used for environmental interpretations. Care was also taken to examine the petrography of all the speleothem material to access the mineralogy (calcite vs aragonite) and the extent of re-crystallisation. Oxygen isotope values are interpreted as the product of the amount and type of rainfall, with wetter periods represented by enriched excursions. The contribution of the dolomite aquifer above the cave may, however, obscure the δ18O signal. The carbon isotopes reflect changes in the vegetational communities above the cave, with varying amounts of C3 and C4 plants. At present each speleothem piece has only one U-Pb date, the distribution of suitable uranium rich layers limits the spatial resolution of dates. The Cooper's Cave flowstone pieces display visible growth layers; should these be annual layers, then these two records represent as little as 60 years climate variability - specifically in the amount of rainfall. However, this would require very fast speleothem growth rates (0.5mm/year). The scale of variation observed in these records is within the same range as other speleothem records from southern Africa and these bands are more likely records of a longer term cycle of a few 1000 years. Still the records presented here do not document long-term climatic variations, but rather snap shot records of short term, detailed climate change. This is especially pertinent as the hominins (and other fauna) would have been more vulnerable to changes on these shorter, life-time time scales.

  2. Schaeferiana (Gaboniella subgen. n.) incompleta sp. n. from Gabon, with notes on its relationships and new records from the Central African Republic (Hemiptera, Heteroptera, Pyrrhocoridae)

    PubMed Central

    Stehlík, Jaroslav L.; Jindra, Zdeněk

    2011-01-01

    Abstract A new subgenus, Gaboniella subgen. n., of the genus Schaeferiana Stehlík, 2008, and its type species, Schaeferiana (Gaboniella) incompleta sp. n. are described from Gabon. In addition the first state records of Sericocoris (Depressoculus) albomaculatus Stehlík, 2008 and Schaeferiana (Schaeferiana) mirabilis Stehlík, 2008 from the Central African Republic are provided. PMID:21998541

  3. A dated phylogeny and collection records reveal repeated biome shifts in the African genus Coccinia (Cucurbitaceae)

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Conservatism in climatic tolerance may limit geographic range expansion and should enhance the effects of habitat fragmentation on population subdivision. Here we study the effects of historical climate change, and the associated habitat fragmentation, on diversification in the mostly sub-Saharan cucurbit genus Coccinia, which has 27 species in a broad range of biota from semi-arid habitats to mist forests. Species limits were inferred from morphology, and nuclear and plastid DNA sequence data, using multiple individuals for the widespread species. Climatic tolerances were assessed from the occurrences of 1189 geo-referenced collections and WorldClim variables. Results Nuclear and plastid gene trees included 35 or 65 accessions, representing up to 25 species. The data revealed four species groups, one in southern Africa, one in Central and West African rain forest, one widespread but absent from Central and West African rain forest, and one that occurs from East Africa to southern Africa. A few individuals are differently placed in the plastid and nuclear (LFY) trees or contain two ITS sequence types, indicating hybridization. A molecular clock suggests that the diversification of Coccinia began about 6.9 Ma ago, with most of the extant species diversity dating to the Pliocene. Ancestral biome reconstruction reveals six switches between semi-arid habitats, woodland, and forest, and members of several species pairs differ significantly in their tolerance of different precipitation regimes. Conclusions The most surprising findings of this study are the frequent biome shifts (in a relatively small clade) over just 6 - 7 million years and the limited diversification during and since the Pleistocene. Pleistocene climate oscillations may have been too rapid or too shallow for full reproductive barriers to develop among fragmented populations of Coccinia, which would explain the apparently still ongoing hybridization between certain species. Steeper ecological gradients in East Africa and South Africa appear to have resulted in more advanced allopatric speciation there. PMID:21269492

  4. Darwin's Enigma: The Fossil Record.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Sunderland, Luther D.

    In December of 1978 the New York State Board of Regents ordered the New York State Education Department to conduct a detailed study of the way in which the subject of origins should be treated in a revised version of the Regents Biology Syllabus. The author was invited to supply scientific information to the Bureau of Science Education, which was…

  5. Darwin's Enigma: The Fossil Record.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Sunderland, Luther D.

    In December of 1978 the New York State Board of Regents ordered the New York State Education Department to conduct a detailed study of the way in which the subject of origins should be treated in a revised version of the Regents Biology Syllabus. The author was invited to supply scientific information to the Bureau of Science Education, which was

  6. Taphonomy of a South African cave: geological and hydrological influences on the GD 1 fossil assemblage at Gondolin, a Plio-Pleistocene paleocave system in the Northwest Province, South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Adams, Justin W.; Herries, Andy I. R.; Kuykendall, Kevin L.; Conroy, Glenn C.

    2007-10-01

    Occasional excavation of in situ and ex situ deposits at the formerly mined Gondolin paleocave system has yielded large and diverse samples of Plio-Pleistocene faunas, including isolated hominin and non-hominin primate remains. In 2003, new excavations into naturally decalcified, in situ sediments near the GD 1 datum point near the northwest corner of the cave system were undertaken. This paper describes the recovered faunal remains, taphonomy of the assemblage, and the geological and paleomagnetic context of the GD 1 deposits. The deposits represent a series of inter-stratified speleothem, in-washed sediments and talus deposits we suggest date to a time period prior to, and just after, the Olduvai normal-polarity event at around 1.7-1.8 Ma. Surface sediments and clasts were introduced into the cave by rain water runoff entering a vertically-oriented entrance that had formed along a rift in the area of GD 1. The faunal assemblage consists primarily of fragmentary diaphyseal fragments and isolated teeth. Taxonomically, the small collection of specifically identifiable bovid and equid fossils is generally consistent with remains previously excavated from in situ deposits in the Gondolin paleocave system (GD 2) and dated to around 1.8 Ma; however, the depositional histories of these two assemblages from Gondolin are remarkably different. The preservation and relative proportions of recovered skeletal elements at GD 1 is consistent with these materials having been initially accumulated outside the karstic system near the vertical cave entrance, and then later hydrologically sorted and deposited inside the cave. The sporadic to continuous water flow into the northwest corner of the cave system during the Pleistocene gradually decalcified the excavated fossilbearing breccias and further modified the composition and spatial distribution of the fossil assemblage by introducing potentially younger deposits and skeletal materials. This study highlights the variation in taphonomic processes that can occur within a single cave system, and the complex pre- and postdepositional geological and hydrological processes that can influence the taphonomic history of South African Plio-Pleistocene karstic fossil assemblages.

  7. Suid evolution and correlation of African hominid localities.

    PubMed

    White, T D; Harris, J M

    1977-10-01

    Recently discovered Plio-Pleistocene vertebrate assemblages have allowed complete systematic revision of the sub-Saharan African Suidae. New phylogenies are proposed for the 7 genera and 16 species of fossil and extant representatives. Suids are common elements of African Plio-Pleistocene faunas, and their evolutionary trends, particularly in the species Mesochoerus limnetes and Metridiochoerus andrewsi, are of great correlative value. Suid data are employed in a refinement of stratigraphic correlations at Omo Shungura, Olduvai, and east of Lake Turkana (formerly East Rudolf) and in a correlation of East African and South African sites, with important implications for interpretation of hominid evolution. The suid record also bears significantly on questions of theoretical evolutionary biology. PMID:331477

  8. Tropical tales of polar ice: evidence of Last Interglacial polar ice sheet retreat recorded by fossil reefs of the granitic Seychelles islands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dutton, Andrea; Webster, Jody M.; Zwartz, Dan; Lambeck, Kurt; Wohlfarth, Barbara

    2015-01-01

    In the search for a record of eustatic sea level change on glacial-interglacial timescales, the Seychelles ranks as one of the best places on the planet to study. Owing to its location with respect to the former margins of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets that wax and wane on orbital cycles, the local-or relative-sea level history is predicted to lie within a few meters of the globally averaged eustatic signal during the Last Interglacial period. We have surveyed and dated Last Interglacial fossil corals to ascertain peak sea level and hence infer maximum retreat of polar ice sheets during this time interval. We observe a pattern of gradually rising sea level in the Seychelles between ˜129 and 125 thousand years ago (ka), with peak eustatic sea level attained after 125 ka at 7.6 ± 1.7 m higher than present. After accounting for thermal expansion and loss of mountain glaciers, this sea-level budget would require ˜5-8 m of polar ice sheet contribution, relative to today's volume, of which only ˜2 m came from the Greenland ice sheet. This result clearly identifies the Antarctic ice sheet as a significant source of melt water, most likely derived from one of the unstable, marine-based sectors in the West and/or East Antarctic ice sheet. Furthermore, the establishment of a +5.9 ± 1.7 m eustatic sea level position by 128.6 ± 0.8 ka would require that partial AIS collapse was coincident with the onset of the sea level highstand.

  9. Recognition of deep-water benthic assemblages in the fossil record: Taphonomy and community characteristics of Louisiana continental slope petroleum seep assemblages

    SciTech Connect

    Callender, W.R.

    1992-01-01

    Chemoautotrophic benthic assemblages associated with petroleum seepage form the only substantial shell accumulations below storm wave base on the northern Gulf of Mexico shelf and slope. Five biofacies are associated with petroleum seepage, dominated respectively by vestimentiferan tubeworms, lucinid, thyasirid and vesicomyid clams and mytilid mussels. The taphonomy of petroleum seep death assemblages includes dissolution as the most pervasive mode of shell alteration. The dominant species in each assemblage reflect the taphonomic signature of the assemblage they dominate. The taphonomic attributes of petroleum seep death assemblages are similar to those of ancient autochthonous benthic assemblages. Paleoecological characteristics representative of cold seep assemblages include: high density-low diversity molluscan assemblages dominated by large individuals, high molluscan biomass concentrations aligned in linear trends, carbons with depleted [delta][sup 13]C values associated with faunally depauperate shales, laminated or massive sedimentary structures, variable articulation frequencies, poor shell preservation, and a trophic structure dominated by one trophic group. The Campanian Tepee Buttes share many paleoecological characteristics with recognized ancient seep assemblages. Methane and hydrogen sulfide-rich fluids from underlying strata were transported along fault conduits to supply a localized nutrient source for lucinid-dominated benthic communities. The Tepee Butte assemblages were dominated by dense accumulations of Nymphalucina occidentalis with moderate to high articulation frequencies. The lucinids probably used H[sub 2]S as a nutrient source. Cold seeps can be recognized in the fossil record, based on criteria developed by the study of modern cold seep death assemblages, because the paleoecological characteristics of cold seep assemblages are very conservative.

  10. A 1000-Year Carbon Isotope Rainfall Proxy Record from South African Baobab Trees (Adansonia digitata L.)

    PubMed Central

    2015-01-01

    A proxy rainfall record for northeastern South Africa based on carbon isotope analysis of four baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) trees shows centennial and decadal scale variability over the last 1,000 years. The record is in good agreement with a 200-year tree ring record from Zimbabwe, and it indicates the existence of a rainfall dipole between the summer and winter rainfall areas of South Africa. The wettest period was c. AD 1075 in the Medieval Warm Period, and the driest periods were c. AD 1635, c. AD 1695 and c. AD1805 during the Little Ice Age. Decadal-scale variability suggests that the rainfall forcing mechanisms are a complex interaction between proximal and distal factors. Periods of higher rainfall are significantly associated with lower sea-surface temperatures in the Agulhas Current core region and a negative Dipole Moment Index in the Indian Ocean. The correlation between rainfall and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation Index is non-static. Wetter conditions are associated with predominantly El Niño conditions over most of the record, but since about AD 1970 this relationship inverted and wet conditions are currently associated with la Nina conditions. The effect of both proximal and distal oceanic influences are insufficient to explain the rainfall regime shift between the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, and the evidence suggests that this was the result of a northward shift of the subtropical westerlies rather than a southward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. PMID:25970402

  11. A 1000-Year Carbon Isotope Rainfall Proxy Record from South African Baobab Trees (Adansonia digitata L.).

    PubMed

    Woodborne, Stephan; Hall, Grant; Robertson, Iain; Patrut, Adrian; Rouault, Mathieu; Loader, Neil J; Hofmeyr, Michele

    2015-01-01

    A proxy rainfall record for northeastern South Africa based on carbon isotope analysis of four baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) trees shows centennial and decadal scale variability over the last 1,000 years. The record is in good agreement with a 200-year tree ring record from Zimbabwe, and it indicates the existence of a rainfall dipole between the summer and winter rainfall areas of South Africa. The wettest period was c. AD 1075 in the Medieval Warm Period, and the driest periods were c. AD 1635, c. AD 1695 and c. AD1805 during the Little Ice Age. Decadal-scale variability suggests that the rainfall forcing mechanisms are a complex interaction between proximal and distal factors. Periods of higher rainfall are significantly associated with lower sea-surface temperatures in the Agulhas Current core region and a negative Dipole Moment Index in the Indian Ocean. The correlation between rainfall and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation Index is non-static. Wetter conditions are associated with predominantly El Niño conditions over most of the record, but since about AD 1970 this relationship inverted and wet conditions are currently associated with la Nina conditions. The effect of both proximal and distal oceanic influences are insufficient to explain the rainfall regime shift between the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, and the evidence suggests that this was the result of a northward shift of the subtropical westerlies rather than a southward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. PMID:25970402

  12. Toward a Late Quaternary tephrostratigraphic framework for East African palaeoenvironmental records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lane, Christine; Martin-Jones, Catherine; Johnson, Thomas; Lamb, Henry; Pearce, Nick; Scholz, Christopher; Smith, Victoria; Verschuren, Dirk

    2015-04-01

    Understanding the spatial and temporal variability of climate forcing and environmental response across a continent as climatically diverse as Africa relies upon comparison of data from widespread palaeoenvironmental archives. Accurate, precise and independent chronologies for such records are essential; however this remains a challenge in many environments, often preventing the valid comparison of detailed palaeo-proxy records. Many studies have now shown that volcanic ash (tephra) can be detected in terrestrial and marine sediments thousands of kilometres from their source, often as microscopic or "cryptic" layers. As well as offering opportunities for both direct (e.g. by 40Ar/39Ar methods) and indirect (e.g. by associated 14C dates) dating of the sediment sequence, tephra layers can provide stratigraphic tie-lines between archives, facilitating precise correlations at single moments in time. Furthermore, where two or more tephra layers are co-located in multiple records, rates of change can be compared within a period of equivalent duration, even in the absence of absolute age estimates. Investigations into the presence of visible and non-visible (crypto-) tephra layers within lacustrine palaeoenvironmental records of the last ~150 ka BP from across East Africa are revealing the potential for this approach to (i) correlate palaeoclimate archives from across and beyond tropical Africa within a regional tephrostratigraphic framework; (ii) provide age constraints for individual core chronologies, in particular beyond the limits of radiocarbon dating; and (iii) increase our knowledge of the history of Late Quaternary explosive volcanism in East Africa.

  13. Hominid mandibular corpus shape variation and its utility for recognizing species diversity within fossil Homo

    PubMed Central

    Lague, Michael R; Collard, Nicole J; Richmond, Brian G; Wood, Bernard A

    2008-01-01

    Mandibular corpora are well represented in the hominin fossil record, yet few studies have rigorously assessed the utility of mandibular corpus morphology for species recognition, particularly with respect to the linear dimensions that are most commonly available. In this study, we explored the extent to which commonly preserved mandibular corpus morphology can be used to: (i) discriminate among extant hominid taxa and (ii) support species designations among fossil specimens assigned to the genus Homo. In the first part of the study, discriminant analysis was used to test for significant differences in mandibular corpus shape at different taxonomic levels (genus, species and subspecies) among extant hominid taxa (i.e. Homo, Pan, Gorilla, Pongo). In the second part of the study, we examined shape variation among fossil mandibles assigned to Homo(including H. habilis sensu stricto, H. rudolfensis, early African H. erectus/H. ergaster, late African H. erectus, Asian H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens). A novel randomization procedure designed for small samples (and using group ‘distinctness values’) was used to determine whether shape variation among the fossils is consistent with conventional taxonomy (or alternatively, whether a priori taxonomic groupings are completely random with respect to mandibular morphology). The randomization of ‘distinctness values’ was also used on the extant samples to assess the ability of the test to recognize known taxa. The discriminant analysis results demonstrated that, even for a relatively modest set of traditional mandibular corpus measurements, we can detect significant differences among extant hominids at the genus and species levels, and, in some cases, also at the subspecies level. Although the randomization of ‘distinctness values’ test is more conservative than discriminant analysis (based on comparisons with extant specimens), we were able to detect at least four distinct groups among the fossil specimens (i.e. H. sapiens, H. heidelbergensis, Asian H. erectus and a combined ‘African Homo’ group consisting of H. habilis sensu stricto, H. rudolfensis, early African H. erectus/H. ergaster and late African H. erectus). These four groups appear to be distinct at a level similar to, or greater than, that of modern hominid species. In addition, the mandibular corpora of H. neanderthalensis could be distinguished from those of ‘African Homo’, although not from those of H. sapiens, H. heidelbergensis, or the Asian H. erectus group. The results suggest that the features most commonly preserved on the hominin mandibular corpus have some taxonomic utility, although they are unlikely to be useful in generating a reliable alpha taxonomy for early African members of the genus Homo. PMID:19094183

  14. Hominid mandibular corpus shape variation and its utility for recognizing species diversity within fossil Homo.

    PubMed

    Lague, Michael R; Collard, Nicole J; Richmond, Brian G; Wood, Bernard A

    2008-12-01

    Mandibular corpora are well represented in the hominin fossil record, yet few studies have rigorously assessed the utility of mandibular corpus morphology for species recognition, particularly with respect to the linear dimensions that are most commonly available. In this study, we explored the extent to which commonly preserved mandibular corpus morphology can be used to: (i) discriminate among extant hominid taxa and (ii) support species designations among fossil specimens assigned to the genus Homo. In the first part of the study, discriminant analysis was used to test for significant differences in mandibular corpus shape at different taxonomic levels (genus, species and subspecies) among extant hominid taxa (i.e. Homo, Pan, Gorilla, Pongo). In the second part of the study, we examined shape variation among fossil mandibles assigned to Homo (including H. habilis sensu stricto, H. rudolfensis, early African H. erectus/H. ergaster, late African H. erectus, Asian H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens). A novel randomization procedure designed for small samples (and using group 'distinctness values') was used to determine whether shape variation among the fossils is consistent with conventional taxonomy (or alternatively, whether a priori taxonomic groupings are completely random with respect to mandibular morphology). The randomization of 'distinctness values' was also used on the extant samples to assess the ability of the test to recognize known taxa. The discriminant analysis results demonstrated that, even for a relatively modest set of traditional mandibular corpus measurements, we can detect significant differences among extant hominids at the genus and species levels, and, in some cases, also at the subspecies level. Although the randomization of 'distinctness values' test is more conservative than discriminant analysis (based on comparisons with extant specimens), we were able to detect at least four distinct groups among the fossil specimens (i.e. H. sapiens, H. heidelbergensis, Asian H. erectus and a combined 'African Homo' group consisting of H. habilis sensu stricto, H. rudolfensis, early African H. erectus/H. ergaster and late African H. erectus). These four groups appear to be distinct at a level similar to, or greater than, that of modern hominid species. In addition, the mandibular corpora of H. neanderthalensis could be distinguished from those of 'African Homo', although not from those of H. sapiens, H. heidelbergensis, or the Asian H. erectus group. The results suggest that the features most commonly preserved on the hominin mandibular corpus have some taxonomic utility, although they are unlikely to be useful in generating a reliable alpha taxonomy for early African members of the genus Homo. PMID:19094183

  15. Fossil Araceae from a Paleocene neotropical rainforest in Colombia.

    PubMed

    Herrera, Fabiany A; Jaramillo, Carlos A; Dilcher, David L; Wing, Scott L; Gómez-N, Carolina

    2008-12-01

    Both the fossil record and molecular data support a long evolutionary history for the Araceae. Although the family is diverse in tropical America today, most araceous fossils, however, have been recorded from middle and high latitudes. Here, we report fossil leaves of Araceae from the middle-late Paleocene of northern Colombia, and review fossil araceous pollen grains from the same interval. Two of the fossil leaf species are placed in the new fossil morphogenus Petrocardium Herrera, Jaramillo, Dilcher, Wing et Gomez-N gen. nov.; these fossils are very similar in leaf morphology to extant Anthurium; however, their relationship to the genus is still unresolved. A third fossil leaf type from Cerrejón is recognized as a species of the extant genus Montrichardia, the first fossil record for this genus. These fossils inhabited a coastal rainforest ∼60-58 million years ago with broadly similar habitat preferences to modern Araceae. PMID:21628164

  16. Influences of the Agulhas Current on South African terrestrial climate as inferred from speleothem stable isotope records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Braun, K.; Bar-Matthews, M.; Ayalon, A.; Marean, C.; Herries, A. I. R.; Zahn, R.; Matthews, A.

    2012-04-01

    South African (SA) climate is strongly influenced by the circulation systems surrounding the subcontinent. The warm tropical Agulhas Current provides large amounts of moisture, transported onshore by south-easterly trade winds during summer. As the trade wind shifts north during winter, the south-western tip of SA is especially affected by temperate westerlies. High amounts of rainfall from the Benguela region off the west coast then only affect the very south-west of the country. This seasonal pattern creates a highly variable terrestrial climate, characterized by strong E-W gradients in the seasonal distribution and amount of rainfall. As summer and winter rain is derived from sources with different properties (density, salinity, temperature), the rainfall also displays seasonal isotopic compositional variations, as for example the present mean δ18O of rainfall in Mossel Bay located in the transition region varies from ~0.13‰ in January to -6.05‰ in July. Vegetation type (C3 vs C4) also follows the rainfall regime with C4 vegetation dominating in the summer rainfall region. As part of the GATEWAYS project, speleothems are used as an excellent, high resolution, precisely dated archive of terrestrial paleoenvironmental conditions[1]. This study focuses on a speleothem record from Crevice Cave on the South African south coast (near Mossel Bay), covering the interval between ~111 and ~53 ka[1,2]. At present, the area is influenced by both summer and winter rainfall, and has mostly C3 type vegetation. Variations in the past show more positive δ18O and δ13C values in the interval corresponding to the glacial MIS 4 and indicate increased summer rainfall and C4 vegetation. This contradicts the common assumption that MIS 4 was characterized by a northward shift of the climatic belts over SA and an increase of winter rainfall and C3 vegetation in the cave area[3]. Comparison of the record to marine sediment cores from the Agulhas Retroflection area[4] and the Cape Basin[5,6] as well as an ice-core record from Antarctica[7] reveal that the speleothem δ18O and δ13C are more closely related to the sea surface temperature shifts in the Agulhas region and Antarctica (with lower δ18O and δ13C values corresponding to higher temperatures) than to the influence of global ice-volume related changes in the isotopic composition of the ocean. A contemporary record from a cave site situated ~92 km inland from Mossel Bay (E-Flux Cave, Klein Karoo) shows a very different signal, corresponding to overall changes in Obliquity[8]. The influence of the Agulhas Current is thus apparent on the coast, but reduced inland. [1] Bar-Matthews, M. et al. 2010. Quaternary Science Reviews 29 p2131. [2] Braun, K. et al. 2011. Conference Abstract, Climate Change - The Karst Record 6. Birmingham England p27. [3] Chase, B. M. & Meadows, M. E., 2007. Earth-Science Reviews 84 p103. [4] Cortese, G. et al. 2004. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 222 p767. [5] Martínez-Méndez, G. et al. (2010). Paleoceanography 25(PA4227): doi:10.1029/2009PA001879. [6] Peeters, F. J. C. et al. 2004. Nature 430 p661. [7] Petit, J. R. et al. 1999. Nature 399 p429. [8] Berger, A. L. 1978. Quaternary Research 9 p139.

  17. Biogeographic distribution and metric dental variation of fossil and living orangutans (Pongo spp.).

    PubMed

    Tshen, Lim Tze

    2016-01-01

    The genus Pongo has a relatively richer Quaternary fossil record than those of the African great apes. Fossil materials are patchy in terms of anatomical parts represented, limited almost exclusively to isolated teeth, jaw and bone fragments. Fossil evidence indicates that the genus Pongo had a broadly continuous distribution across the southern part of the Indomalayan biogeographic region, ranging in time from Early Pleistocene to Holocene: southern China (77 fossil sites), Vietnam (15), Laos (6), Cambodia (2), Thailand (4), Peninsular Malaysia (6), Sumatra (4), Borneo (6) and Java (4). Within this distribution range, there are major geographical gaps with no known orangutan fossils, notably central and southern Indochina, central and southern Thailand, eastern Peninsular Malaysia, northern and southern Sumatra, and Kalimantan. The geological time and place of origin of the genus remain unresolved. Fossil orangutan assemblages usually show greater extent of dental metrical variation than those of modern-day populations. Such variability shown in prehistoric populations has partially contributed to confusion regarding past taxonomic diversity and systematic relationships among extinct and living forms. To date, no fewer than 14 distinct taxa have been identified and named for Pleistocene orangutans. Clear cases suggestive of predation by prehistoric human are few in number, and limited to terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene sites in Borneo and a Late Pleistocene site in Vietnam. PMID:26424147

  18. Are the oldest 'fossils', fossils

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Schopf, J. W.

    1976-01-01

    A comparative statistical study has been carried out on populations of modern algae, Precambrian algal microfossils, the 'organized elements' of the Orgueil carbonaceous meteorite, and the oldest microfossil-like objects now known (spheroidal bodies from the Fig Tree and Onverwacht Groups of the Swaziland Supergroup, South Africa). The distribution patterns exhibited by the more than 3000 m.y.-old Swaziland microstructures bear considerable resemblance to those of the abiotic 'organized elements' but differ rather markedly from those exhibited by younger, assuredly biogenic, populations. Based on these comparisons, it is concluded that the Swaziland spheroids could be, at least in part, of nonbiologic origin; these oldest known fossil-like microstructures should not be regarded as constituting firm evidence of Archean life.

  19. Patterns of tooth crown size and shape variation in great apes and humans and species recognition in the hominid fossil record.

    PubMed

    Scott, Jeremiah E; Lockwood, Charles A

    2004-12-01

    It has been suggested that patterns of craniodental variation in living hominids (Gorilla, Homo, Pan, and Pongo) may be useful for evaluating variation in fossil hominid assemblages. Using this approach, a fossil sample exhibiting a pattern of variation that deviates from one shared among living taxa would be regarded as taxonomically heterogeneous. Here we examine patterns of tooth crown size and shape variation in great apes and humans to determine 1) if these taxa share a pattern of dental variation, and 2) if such a pattern can reliably discriminate between samples that contain single species and those that contain multiple species. We use parametric and nonparametric correlation methods to establish the degree of pattern similarity among taxa, and randomization tests to assess their statistical significance. The results of this study show that extant hominids do not share a pattern of dental size variation, and thus these taxa cannot be used to generate expectations for patterns of size variation in fossil hominid species. The hominines (Gorilla, Homo, and Pan) do share a pattern of shape variation in the mandibular dentition; however, Pongo is distinct, and thus it is unclear which, if either, pattern should be expected in fossil hominids. Moreover, in this case, most combined-species samples exhibit patterns of shape variation that are similar to those for single hominine species samples. Thus, although a common pattern of shape variation is present in the mandibular dentition, it is not useful for recognizing taxonomically mixed paleontological samples. PMID:15386248

  20. Fossil legumes from the Middle Eocene (46.0 Ma) Mahenge Flora of Singida, Tanzania.

    PubMed

    Herendeen, P S; Jacobs, B F

    2000-09-01

    Middle Eocene age caesalpinioid and mimosoid legume leaves are reported from the Mahenge site in north-central Tanzania. The Mahenge flora complements a sparse Paleogene tropical African fossil plant record, which until now consisted of a single macrobotanical assemblage, limited palynological studies in West Africa and Egypt, and fossil wood studies primarily from poorly dated deposits. Mahenge leaf macrofossils have the potential to add significantly to what is known of the evolutionary history of extant African plant groups and to expand our currently limited knowledge of African Paleogene environments. The site is associated with a kimberlite eruption and demonstrates the potential value of kimberlite-associated lake deposits as much-needed resources for African Paleogene floras. In this report we document a relatively diverse component of the flora consisting of the leaves of at least five species of Leguminosae. A new species of the extant genus Acacia (Mimosoideae), described herein, is represented by a bipinnate leaf. Another taxon is described as a new species of the extant genus Aphanocalyx (Caesalpinioideae), and a third leaf type may be related to the extant genus Cynometra (Caesalpinioideae). Two additional leaf types are less well understood: one appears to be referable to the Caesalpinioideae and subfamily affinities of the other taxon are unknown. PMID:10991905

  1. Will My Fossil Float?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Riesser, Sharon; Airey, Linda

    1993-01-01

    Explains how young students can be introduced to fossils. Suggests books to read and science activities including "Fossils to Eat" where students make fossils from peanut butter, honey, and powdered milk. (PR)

  2. Records of human activity during the late-Holocene in the soils of the African dense humid forest

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morin-Rivat, Julie; Bentaleb, Ilham; Biwolé, Achille; Bourland, Nils; Bremond, Laurent; Daïnou, Kasso; Fayolle, Adeline; Gillet, Jean-François; Gorel, Anaïs; Gourlet-Fleury, Sylvie; Hardy, Olivier; Livingstone Smith, Alexandre; Oslisly, Richard; Vleminckx, Jason; Beeckman, Hans; Doucet, Jean-Louis

    2014-05-01

    Recently, several authors gathered data about the presence of past human populations in tropical regions covered by dense forest nowadays. In Central Africa, there is a growing body of evidence for past human settlements along the Atlantic coast, but very little information is available further inland. In the perspective, soil records seem to be the most appropriated so as to appraise the spatial and temporal extent of human activity in the African dense humid forest. In this paper, we thus aimed to present a synthesis of the archaeological and archaeobotanical data obtained during several fieldwork campaigns in an archaeologically unexplored area of 200,000 km² located in southern Cameroon and the northern Republic of Congo. A total of 275 test pits, among them 30 pedological pits up to 150 cm deep, were excavated in the study area. So as to get a long temporal scale as well as a fine resolution spatial scale, we quantified wood charcoal and charred endocarps in soil samples by layers of 10 cm taken for 100 pits located along transects of systematic sampling. Spatial projections were performed using statistics together with multivariate analyses. AMS radiocarbon dating allowed interpreting the temporal framework. Evidence of past human activities through either artifacts or charred botanical remains was observed in all pits, in particular with the ubiquitous presence of charcoal at each site. Main charcoal peaks were interpreted as fields (slash-and-burn agriculture) in the vicinity of ancient villages, the later marked by the presence of both potsherds and oil palm endocarps. The dichotomy of these kinds of activities may have impacted differentially the environment during the past. The set of 73 radiocarbon dates extending from 15,000 BP to the present time provided more dates in the late-Holocene showing a bimodal distribution which was interpreted as two phases of human expansion with an intermediate phase of population crash. The 2300-1300 BP phase is correlated with the migrations of supposed farming populations from northwestern Cameroon. Between 1300 and 670 BP, less material could be dated. Following that population collapse, the 670-20 BP phase corresponds to a new period of human expansion known as the Late Iron Age. The dates obtained support the established chronology reported for whole Central Africa. This study underlines the necessity of fieldwork efforts and of the usefulness of archives sealed in soil records so as to bring new, extensive and precise evidence of human activities in the Congo Basin.

  3. Novel Application of Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy and 3D Volume Rendering toward Improving the Resolution of the Fossil Record of Charcoal

    PubMed Central

    Belcher, Claire M.; Punyasena, Surangi W.; Sivaguru, Mayandi

    2013-01-01

    Variations in the abundance of fossil charcoals between rocks and sediments are assumed to reflect changes in fire activity in Earth’s past. These variations in fire activity are often considered to be in response to environmental, ecological or climatic changes. The role that fire plays in feedbacks to such changes is becoming increasingly important to understand and highlights the need to create robust estimates of variations in fossil charcoal abundance. The majority of charcoal based fire reconstructions quantify the abundance of charcoal particles and do not consider the changes in the morphology of the individual particles that may have occurred due to fragmentation as part of their transport history. We have developed a novel application of confocal laser scanning microscopy coupled to image processing that enables the 3-dimensional reconstruction of individual charcoal particles. This method is able to measure the volume of both microfossil and mesofossil charcoal particles and allows the abundance of charcoal in a sample to be expressed as total volume of charcoal. The method further measures particle surface area and shape allowing both relationships between different size and shape metrics to be analysed and full consideration of variations in particle size and size sorting between different samples to be studied. We believe application of this new imaging approach could allow significant improvement in our ability to estimate variations in past fire activity using fossil charcoals. PMID:23977267

  4. Phytogeographical Implication of Bridelia Will. (Phyllanthaceae) Fossil Leaf from the Late Oligocene of India

    PubMed Central

    Srivastava, Gaurav; Mehrotra, R.C.

    2014-01-01

    Background The family Phyllanthaceae has a predominantly pantropical distribution. Of its several genera, Bridelia Willd. is of a special interest because it has disjunct equally distributed species in Africa and tropical Asia i.e. 18–20 species in Africa-Madagascar (all endemic) and 18 species in tropical Asia (some shared with Australia). On the basis of molecular phylogenetic study on Bridelia, it has been suggested that the genus evolved in Southeast Asia around 33±5 Ma, while speciation and migration to other parts of the world occurred at 10±2 Ma. Fossil records of Bridelia are equally important to support the molecular phylogenetic studies and plate tectonic models. Results We describe a new fossil leaf of Bridelia from the late Oligocene (Chattian, 28.4–23 Ma) sediments of Assam, India. The detailed venation pattern of the fossil suggests its affinities with the extant B. ovata, B. retusa and B. stipularis. Based on the present fossil evidence and the known fossil records of Bridelia from the Tertiary sediments of Nepal and India, we infer that the genus evolved in India during the late Oligocene (Chattian, 28.4–23 Ma) and speciation occurred during the Miocene. The stem lineage of the genus migrated to Africa via “Iranian route” and again speciosed in Africa-Madagascar during the late Neogene resulting in the emergence of African endemic clades. Similarly, the genus also migrated to Southeast Asia via Myanmar after the complete suturing of Indian and Eurasian plates. The emergence and speciation of the genus in Asia and Africa is the result of climate change during the Cenozoic. Conclusions On the basis of present and known fossil records of Bridelia, we have concluded that the genus evolved during the late Oligocene in northeast India. During the Neogene, the genus diversified and migrated to Southeast Asia via Myanmar and Africa via “Iranian Route”. PMID:25353345

  5. The oldest African bat from the early Eocene of El Kohol (Algeria)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ravel, Anthony; Marivaux, Laurent; Tabuce, Rodolphe; Adaci, Mohammed; Mahboubi, Mohammed; Mebrouk, Fateh; Bensalah, Mustapha

    2011-05-01

    The Afro-Arabian Paleogene fossil record of Chiroptera is very poor. In North Africa and Arabia, this record is limited, thus far, to a few localities mainly in Tunisia (Chambi, late early Eocene), Egypt (Fayum, late Eocene to early Oligocene), and Sultanate of Oman (Taqah, early Oligocene). It consists primarily of isolated teeth or mandible fragments. Interestingly, these African fossil bats document two modern groups (Vespertilionoidea and Rhinolophoidea) from the early Eocene, while the bat fossil record of the same epoch of North America, Eurasia, and Australia principally includes members of the "Eochiroptera." This paraphyletic group contains all primitive microbats excluding modern families. In Algeria, the region of Brezina, southeast of the Atlas Mountains, is famous for the early Eocene El Kohol Formation, which has yielded one of the earliest mammalian faunas of the African landmass. Recent fieldwork in the same area has led to the discovery of a new vertebrate locality, including isolated teeth of Chiroptera. These fossils represent the oldest occurrence of Chiroptera in Africa, thus extending back the record of the group to the middle early Eocene (Ypresian) on that continent. The material consists of an upper molar and two fragments of lower molars. The dental character association matches that of "Eochiroptera." As such, although very fragmentary, the material testifies to the first occurrence of "Eochiroptera" in Algeria, and by extension in Africa. This discovery demonstrates that this basal group of Chiroptera had a worldwide distribution during the early Paleogene.

  6. The joints of the evolving foot. Part III. The fossil evidence.

    PubMed Central

    Lewis, O J

    1980-01-01

    The fossil record supports the conclusions derived from the study of extant species that the Primates evolved a unique suite of characters in the articulations of the foot. The tarsal bones of African Miocene apes show specializations characteristic of hominoid evolution and provide reasonable precursors for the morphology of Pan, Gorilla and even Pongo. The OH8 foot is essentially ape-like in it major features, with many close resemblances to Pan. Although fairly clearly from a bipedal primate, it lacked important functional specializations found in the human foot. PMID:6780500

  7. Mid-Miocene to Pleistocene Radiolarian fossil record from IODP Expedition 346: Faunal response to the global climatic changes and local/regional tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Itaki, T.; Motoyama, I.; Kamikuri, S.; Tada, R.; Murray, R. W.; Alvarez Zarikian, C. A.

    2014-12-01

    It is well known that radiolarian fossils can be used as a geological tool for the age assignment and paleoceanographic reconstruction. In this study, we analyzed radiolarian fossils for seven drilled sites of IODP Exp. 346 from the Japan, Yamato and Ulleung (JYU) basins in a marginal sea of the mid-latitude NW Pacific. Significant variations of the well-preserved fossil assemblage imply that the unique oceanic circulation changes in the basins through Mid-Miocene to Pleistocene might be controlled by global climatic changes and topographic changes with local/regional tectonics. Warm water radiolarians Dictyocoryne spp. and Tetrapyle spp. characterized in the Tsushima Current water occurred commonly since 1.7 Ma suggesting a beginning of the warm water inflow from the southern strait of the basins. It might be coincident with an opening of the Okinawa Trough in the East China Sea. On the other hand, during the Pliocene period, sporadic occurrence of the warm water species was recognized in southern part of the examined area. This implies that a minor influence of the warm water was present in the southern coastal area of the Yamato Basin. Typical deep dwelling species such as Cornutella profunda and Peripyramis circumtexta is absent in the present JYU basins, however they occurred frequently during Pliocene and Miocene. This suggests the deep-water exchange between the JYU basins and the North Pacific via the deeper strait, which might be present in the northern part of the sea. These deep-water radiolarians disappeared from the JYU basins at the early Pleistocene (~2.7 Ma to 1.7 Ma), which is almost coincident with the Northern Hemisphere Glaciation.

  8. Earliest and first Northern Hemispheric hoatzin fossils substantiate Old World origin of a "Neotropic endemic"

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mayr, Gerald; De Pietri, Vanesa L.

    2014-02-01

    The recent identification of hoatzins (Opisthocomiformes) in the Miocene of Africa showed part of the evolution of these birds, which are now only found in South America, to have taken place outside the Neotropic region. Here, we describe a new fossil species from the late Eocene of France, which constitutes the earliest fossil record of hoatzins and the first one from the Northern Hemisphere. Protoazin parisiensis gen. et sp. nov. is more closely related to South American Opisthocomiformes than the African taxon Namibiavis and substantiates an Old World origin of hoatzins, as well as a relictual distribution of the single extant species. Although recognition of hoatzins in Europe may challenge their presumed transatlantic dispersal, there are still no North American fossils in support of an alternative, Northern Hemispheric, dispersal route. In addition to Opisthocomiformes, other avian taxa are known from the Cenozoic of Europe, the extant representatives of which are only found in South America. Recognition of hoatzins in the early Cenozoic of Europe is of particular significance because Opisthocomiformes have a fossil record in sub-Saharan Africa, which supports the hypothesis that extinction of at least some of these "South American" groups outside the Neotropic region was not primarily due to climatic factors.

  9. Fossil and molecular evidence constrain scenarios for the early evolutionary and biogeographic history of hystricognathous rodents

    PubMed Central

    Sallam, Hesham M.; Seiffert, Erik R.; Steiper, Michael E.; Simons, Elwyn L.

    2009-01-01

    The early evolutionary and paleobiogeographic history of the diverse rodent clade Hystricognathi, which contains Hystricidae (Old World porcupines), Caviomorpha (the endemic South American rodents), and African Phiomorpha (cane rats, dassie rats, and blesmols) is of great interest to students of mammalian evolution, but remains poorly understood because of a poor early fossil record. Here we describe the oldest well-dated hystricognathous rodents from an earliest late Eocene (≈37 Ma) fossil locality in the Fayum Depression of northern Egypt. These taxa exhibit a combination of primitive and derived features, the former shared with Asian “baluchimyine” rodents, and the latter shared with Oligocene phiomorphs and caviomorphs. Phylogenetic analysis incorporating morphological, temporal, geographic, and molecular information places the new taxa as successive sister groups of crown Hystricognathi, and supports an Asian origin for stem Hystricognathi and an Afro-Arabian origin for crown Hystricognathi, stem Hystricidae, and stem Caviomorpha. Molecular dating of early divergences within Hystricognathi, using a Bayesian “relaxed clock” approach and multiple fossil calibrations, suggests that the split between Hystricidae and the phiomorph-caviomorph clade occurred ≈39 Ma, and that phiomorphs and caviomorphs diverged ≈36 Ma. These results are remarkably congruent with our phylogenetic results and the fossil record of hystricognathous rodent evolution in Afro-Arabia and South America. PMID:19805363

  10. Cretaceous African life captured in amber

    PubMed Central

    Schmidt, Alexander R.; Perrichot, Vincent; Svojtka, Matthias; Anderson, Ken B.; Belete, Kebede H.; Bussert, Robert; Dörfelt, Heinrich; Jancke, Saskia; Mohr, Barbara; Mohrmann, Eva; Nascimbene, Paul C.; Nel, André; Nel, Patricia; Ragazzi, Eugenio; Roghi, Guido; Saupe, Erin E.; Schmidt, Kerstin; Schneider, Harald; Selden, Paul A.; Vávra, Norbert

    2010-01-01

    Amber is of great paleontological importance because it preserves a diverse array of organisms and associated remains from different habitats in and close to the amber-producing forests. Therefore, the discovery of amber inclusions is important not only for tracing the evolutionary history of lineages with otherwise poor fossil records, but also for elucidating the composition, diversity, and ecology of terrestrial paleoecosystems. Here, we report a unique find of African amber with inclusions, from the Cretaceous of Ethiopia. Ancient arthropods belonging to the ants, wasps, thrips, zorapterans, and spiders are the earliest African records of these ecologically important groups and constitute significant discoveries providing insight into the temporal and geographical origins of these lineages. Together with diverse microscopic inclusions, these findings reveal the interactions of plants, fungi and arthropods during an epoch of major change in terrestrial ecosystems, which was caused by the initial radiation of the angiosperms. Because of its age, paleogeographic location and the exceptional preservation of the inclusions, this fossil resin broadens our understanding of the ecology of Cretaceous woodlands. PMID:20368427

  11. Metamorphic record and Thermo-mechanical modelling of lower crust exhumation during the Palaeoproterozoic Eburnean orogeny, West African Craton

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gerbault, Muriel; Ganne, Jerome; Block, Sylvain

    2014-05-01

    A thermo-mechanical interpretation of the metamorphic evolution of moderate- to high-pressure volcano-sedimentary rocks (6-8 to >10 Kb) in the Birimian Province (2.2-2.0 Ga) of the West African Craton is explored in terms of burial and exhumation processes. Metamorphic data collected in Burkina Faso, southwest Ghana and eastern Senegal suggest that during the Eburnean orogeny (~2.1 Ga),this Palaeoproterozoic Birimian crust was dominated by moderate apparent geothermal gradients of 20-30°C/km (M2a), that produced greenschist- to amphibolite-facies metamorphic assemblages associated with regional shortening and granitoid intrusions. The M2a gradient is superimposed on a colder thermal regime (M1 : <10-15 °C/km) that produced high-P greenschist- to blueschist-facies metamorphic assemblages, and which most likely recorded the earlier formation of the protolith. The geodynamical origin of M1 is not directly addressed here. Thermo-mechanical two-dimensional numerical models were built in order to test whether late-stage compressional tectonics could generate the exhumation of meta-sediments, collected in Ca0-poor granitoids and which record elevated metamorphic pressures (P> 6-8 Kb). The poor data quality provide limited constraints on the appropriate initial setup conditions, and a number of tests have led us to conceptualize the spatial distribution of a hypothezised succession of volcanic island arcs emplaced on top of CaO rich TTG (Tonalite- Trondjhemite-Granodiorite suites) basement, tectonically paired with sedimentary basins. We postulated therefore the preexistence of wide (about 250 km) and thick flexural sedimentary basins (depth 15 km) in an orogenic mafic crust (about 20 km thick), underplated by a more felsic and lighter layer representing a TTG melange. The numerical results show that a mechanism of burial, heating and exhumation of meta-sediments can occur by simultaneous folding and gravitational instabilities within the broad extent of the basin, provided the conversion rate is slow enough, and the basin is weak and thick enough. At around 25 km depth and after about 30 Myrs of compression at a rate of 5mm/yr, the TTG layer has deepened enough to reach appropriate PT conditions for melting. The buoyant and low-viscosity partially molten material (comprising a fraction of CaO-poor melt and residual material) then ascends through the overlying sediments, and entrains upwards lower crustal material as well as the surrounding sediments up, to about 10 km depth, and over the ~200 km width of the basin. This scenario explains the important breaks in metamorphic conditions observed in the Birimian province between the thin slivers (< 2 km thick) of high-pressure rocks (P> 8 Kb) preserved in the thermal aureoles of granites, and the adjacent greenstones synforms, which consist of low-grade metasediments (P< 6 Kb; T< 450°C). This scenario is consistent with a significant recycling of the TTGs in the genesis of CaO-poor granitoid melts. Although we cannot model the subsequent evolution, we propose that further exhumation to the surface occurred by transcurrent motion. In the discussion about the implications of our results on the tectono-metamorphic and mechanical evolution of Palaeoproterozoic orogenies, the question rises as to whether an external change in far-field boundary motion or increasing internal driving forces triggered this transcurrent motion, that ended the Eburnean orogeny.

  12. First Miocene rodent from Lebanon provides the 'missing link' between Asian and African gundis (Rodentia: Ctenodactylidae)

    PubMed Central

    López-Antoñanzas, Raquel; Knoll, Fabien; Maksoud, Sibelle; Azar, Dany

    2015-01-01

    Ctenodactylinae (gundis) is a clade of rodents that experienced, in Miocene time, their greatest diversification and widest distribution. They expanded from the Far East, their area of origin, to Africa, which they entered from what would become the Arabian Peninsula. Questions concerning the origin of African Ctenodactylinae persist essentially because of a poor fossil record from the Miocene of Afro-Arabia. However, recent excavations in the Late Miocene of Lebanon have yielded a key taxon for our understanding of these issues. Proafricanomys libanensis nov. gen. nov. sp. shares a variety of dental characters with both the most primitive and derived members of the subfamily. A cladistic analysis demonstrates that this species is the sister taxon to a clade encompassing all but one of the African ctenodactylines, plus a southern European species of obvious African extraction. As such, Proafricanomys provides the 'missing link' between the Asian and African gundis. PMID:26250050

  13. First Miocene rodent from Lebanon provides the 'missing link' between Asian and African gundis (Rodentia: Ctenodactylidae).

    PubMed

    López-Antoñanzas, Raquel; Knoll, Fabien; Maksoud, Sibelle; Azar, Dany

    2015-01-01

    Ctenodactylinae (gundis) is a clade of rodents that experienced, in Miocene time, their greatest diversification and widest distribution. They expanded from the Far East, their area of origin, to Africa, which they entered from what would become the Arabian Peninsula. Questions concerning the origin of African Ctenodactylinae persist essentially because of a poor fossil record from the Miocene of Afro-Arabia. However, recent excavations in the Late Miocene of Lebanon have yielded a key taxon for our understanding of these issues. Proafricanomys libanensis nov. gen. nov. sp. shares a variety of dental characters with both the most primitive and derived members of the subfamily. A cladistic analysis demonstrates that this species is the sister taxon to a clade encompassing all but one of the African ctenodactylines, plus a southern European species of obvious African extraction. As such, Proafricanomys provides the 'missing link' between the Asian and African gundis. PMID:26250050

  14. Eocene primates of South America and the African origins of New World monkeys

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bond, Mariano; Tejedor, Marcelo F.; Campbell, Kenneth E.; Chornogubsky, Laura; Novo, Nelson; Goin, Francisco

    2015-04-01

    The platyrrhine primates, or New World monkeys, are immigrant mammals whose fossil record comes from Tertiary and Quaternary sediments of South America and the Caribbean Greater Antilles. The time and place of platyrrhine origins are some of the most controversial issues in primate palaeontology, although an African Palaeogene ancestry has been presumed by most primatologists. Until now, the oldest fossil records of New World monkeys have come from Salla, Bolivia, and date to approximately 26 million years ago, or the Late Oligocene epoch. Here we report the discovery of new primates from the ?Late Eocene epoch of Amazonian Peru, which extends the fossil record of primates in South America back approximately 10 million years. The new specimens are important for understanding the origin and early evolution of modern platyrrhine primates because they bear little resemblance to any extinct or living South American primate, but they do bear striking resemblances to Eocene African anthropoids, and our phylogenetic analysis suggests a relationship with African taxa. The discovery of these new primates brings the first appearance datum of caviomorph rodents and primates in South America back into close correspondence, but raises new questions about the timing and means of arrival of these two mammalian groups.

  15. Eocene primates of South America and the African origins of New World monkeys.

    PubMed

    Bond, Mariano; Tejedor, Marcelo F; Campbell, Kenneth E; Chornogubsky, Laura; Novo, Nelson; Goin, Francisco

    2015-04-23

    The platyrrhine primates, or New World monkeys, are immigrant mammals whose fossil record comes from Tertiary and Quaternary sediments of South America and the Caribbean Greater Antilles. The time and place of platyrrhine origins are some of the most controversial issues in primate palaeontology, although an African Palaeogene ancestry has been presumed by most primatologists. Until now, the oldest fossil records of New World monkeys have come from Salla, Bolivia, and date to approximately 26 million years ago, or the Late Oligocene epoch. Here we report the discovery of new primates from the ?Late Eocene epoch of Amazonian Peru, which extends the fossil record of primates in South America back approximately 10 million years. The new specimens are important for understanding the origin and early evolution of modern platyrrhine primates because they bear little resemblance to any extinct or living South American primate, but they do bear striking resemblances to Eocene African anthropoids, and our phylogenetic analysis suggests a relationship with African taxa. The discovery of these new primates brings the first appearance datum of caviomorph rodents and primates in South America back into close correspondence, but raises new questions about the timing and means of arrival of these two mammalian groups. PMID:25652825

  16. First fossil record of Discocephalinae (Insecta, Pentatomidae): a new genus from the middle Eocene of Río Pichileufú, Patagonia, Argentina

    PubMed Central

    Petrulevičius, Julián F.; Popov, Yuri A.

    2014-01-01

    Abstract A new genus and species of Discocephalini, Acanthocephalonotum martinsnetoi gen. n. et sp. n. is described from Río Pichileufú, middle Eocene of Patagonia, Argentina at palaeolatitude ~ 46°S. The new species is the first fossil representative of the Discocephalinae. This taxon is extant in equatorial to subtropical America, and some species reach warm temperate latitudes (Buenos Aires province). The new genus is distinguished from the other genera of Discocephalini by the combination of these characters: interocular width greater than head length; head massive and quadrangular with the anterior margin almost straight; juga touching each other; labrum thick and curved; triangular ante-ocular process extending beyond the eye; broad spine-like antero-lateral process of the pronotum; pronotum explanate and bean shaped; scutellum triangular with a circular tongue reaching the anterior side of abdominal segment 7; and wings well developed with membrane just surpassing end of abdomen. PMID:25061387

  17. A comparison of antemortem tooth loss in human hunter-gatherers and non-human catarrhines: implications for the identification of behavioral evolution in the human fossil record.

    PubMed

    Gilmore, Cassandra C

    2013-06-01

    Middle and Late Pleistocene fossil hominin specimens with severe antemortem tooth loss are often regarded as evidence for the precocious evolution of human-like behaviors, such as conspecific care or cooking, in ancient hominin species. The goal of this project was to ask whether the theoretical association between antemortem tooth loss and uniquely human behaviors is supported empirically in a large skeletal sample of human hunter-gatherers, chimpanzees, orangutans, and baboons. Binomial regression modeling in a Bayesian framework allows for the investigation of the effects of tooth class, genus, age, and sex on the likelihood of tooth loss. The results strongly suggest that modern humans experience more antemortem tooth loss than non-human primates and identify age in years as an important predictor. Once age is accounted for, the difference between the humans and the closest non-human genus (chimpanzees) is less pronounced; humans are still more likely on average to experience antemortem tooth loss though 95% uncertainty envelopes around the average prediction for each genus show some overlap. These analyses support theoretical links between antemortem tooth loss and modern human characteristics; humans' significantly longer life history and a positive correlation between age and antemortem tooth loss explain, in part, the reason why humans are more likely to experience tooth loss than non-human primates, but the results do not exclude behavioral differences as a contributing factor. PMID:23640546

  18. Fossil-energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1982-01-01

    The increased utilization of coal and other fossil fuel alternatives as sources of clean energy is reported. The projects reported include: coal conversion development, chemical research and development, materials technology, component development and process evaluation, technical support to major liquefaction, process analysis and engineering evaluations, fossil energy environmental analysis, environmental control technology, coal preparation waste utilization, atmospheric fluidized bed coal combustor for cogeneration, TVA FBC demonstration plant program technical support, PFBC systems analysis, FBC char utilization improvement, fossil fuel applications assessments, performance assurance system support for fossil energy projects, international energy technology, generalized equilibrium models for liquid and gaseous fuel supplies, instrumentations and controls and fossil energy information center.

  19. Himalayan fossils of the oldest known pantherine establish ancient origin of big cats.

    PubMed

    Tseng, Z Jack; Wang, Xiaoming; Slater, Graham J; Takeuchi, Gary T; Li, Qiang; Liu, Juan; Xie, Guangpu

    2014-01-01

    Pantherine felids ('big cats') include the largest living cats, apex predators in their respective ecosystems. They are also the earliest diverging living cat lineage, and thus are important for understanding the evolution of all subsequent felid groups. Although the oldest pantherine fossils occur in Africa, molecular phylogenies point to Asia as their region of origin. This paradox cannot be reconciled using current knowledge, mainly because early big cat fossils are exceedingly rare and fragmentary. Here, we report the discovery of a fossil pantherine from the Tibetan Himalaya, with an age of Late Miocene-Early Pliocene, replacing African records as the oldest pantherine. A 'total evidence' phylogenetic analysis of pantherines indicates that the new cat is closely related to the snow leopard and exhibits intermediate characteristics on the evolutionary line to the largest cats. Historical biogeographic models provide robust support for the Asian origin of pantherines. The combined analyses indicate that 75% of the divergence events in the pantherine lineage extended back to the Miocene, up to 7 Myr earlier than previously estimated. The deeper evolutionary origin of big cats revealed by the new fossils and analyses indicate a close association between Tibetan Plateau uplift and diversification of the earliest living cats. PMID:24225466

  20. Himalayan fossils of the oldest known pantherine establish ancient origin of big cats

    PubMed Central

    Tseng, Z. Jack; Wang, Xiaoming; Slater, Graham J.; Takeuchi, Gary T.; Li, Qiang; Liu, Juan; Xie, Guangpu

    2014-01-01

    Pantherine felids (‘big cats’) include the largest living cats, apex predators in their respective ecosystems. They are also the earliest diverging living cat lineage, and thus are important for understanding the evolution of all subsequent felid groups. Although the oldest pantherine fossils occur in Africa, molecular phylogenies point to Asia as their region of origin. This paradox cannot be reconciled using current knowledge, mainly because early big cat fossils are exceedingly rare and fragmentary. Here, we report the discovery of a fossil pantherine from the Tibetan Himalaya, with an age of Late Miocene–Early Pliocene, replacing African records as the oldest pantherine. A ‘total evidence’ phylogenetic analysis of pantherines indicates that the new cat is closely related to the snow leopard and exhibits intermediate characteristics on the evolutionary line to the largest cats. Historical biogeographic models provide robust support for the Asian origin of pantherines. The combined analyses indicate that 75% of the divergence events in the pantherine lineage extended back to the Miocene, up to 7 Myr earlier than previously estimated. The deeper evolutionary origin of big cats revealed by the new fossils and analyses indicate a close association between Tibetan Plateau uplift and diversification of the earliest living cats. PMID:24225466

  1. Summary of the Snowmastodon Project Special Volume. A high-elevation, multi-proxy biotic and environmental record of MIS 6-4 from the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site, Snowmass Village, Colorado, USA

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miller, Ian M.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Scott Anderson, R.; Johnson, Kirk R.; Mahan, Shannon A.; Ager, Thomas A.; Baker, Richard G.; Blaauw, Maarten; Bright, Jordon; Brown, Peter M.; Bryant, Bruce; Calamari, Zachary T.; Carrara, Paul E.; Cherney, Michael D.; Demboski, John R.; Elias, Scott A.; Fisher, Daniel C.; Gray, Harrison J.; Haskett, Danielle R.; Honke, Jeffrey S.; Jackson, Stephen T.; Jiménez-Moreno, Gonzalo; Kline, Douglas; Leonard, Eric M.; Lifton, Nathaniel A.; Lucking, Carol; Gregory McDonald, H.; Miller, Dane M.; Muhs, Daniel R.; Nash, Stephen E.; Newton, Cody; Paces, James B.; Petrie, Lesley; Plummer, Mitchell A.; Porinchu, David F.; Rountrey, Adam N.; Scott, Eric; Sertich, Joseph J. W.; Sharpe, Saxon E.; Skipp, Gary L.; Strickland, Laura E.; Stucky, Richard K.; Thompson, Robert S.; Wilson, Jim

    2014-11-01

    In North America, terrestrial records of biodiversity and climate change that span Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 are rare. Where found, they provide insight into how the coupling of the ocean-atmosphere system is manifested in biotic and environmental records and how the biosphere responds to climate change. In 2010-2011, construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado (USA) revealed a nearly continuous, lacustrine/wetland sedimentary sequence that preserved evidence of past plant communities between ~ 140 and 55 ka, including all of MIS 5. At an elevation of 2705 m, the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site also contained thousands of well-preserved bones of late Pleistocene megafauna, including mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths, horses, camels, deer, bison, black bear, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. In addition, the site contained more than 26,000 bones from at least 30 species of small animals including salamanders, otters, muskrats, minks, rabbits, beavers, frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, and birds. The combination of macro- and micro-vertebrates, invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic plant macrofossils, a detailed pollen record, and a robust, directly dated stratigraphic framework shows that high-elevation ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are climatically sensitive and varied dramatically throughout MIS 5.

  2. Clinal morphological variation along a depth gradient in the living scleractinian reef coral Favia pallida: Effects on perceived evolutionary tempos in the fossil record

    SciTech Connect

    Cuffey, R.J. ); Pachut, J.F. )

    1990-12-01

    The Holocene reef-building coral Favia pallida was sampled at 4.5 m depth increments (to 40 m) from two reefs on Enewetak Atoll to examine intraspecific environmental effects. An exposed outer reef was massive and wall-like, whereas a sheltered lagoonal reef grew as a slender pinnacle. Corallite diameter and growth rate, two attributes retrievable in fossil corals, were measured with data partitioned into shallow (<20 m), intermediate (20 to 29 m), and deep-water (>29 m) subsets. Highly significant differences between depth zone populations were found for both corallite diameters and growth rates in analyses of individual and combined reef data sets. Canonical variates analyses (CVA) separated populations from depth zones along single, highly significant, functions. Centroids and 95% confidence intervals, calculated from CVA scores of colonies in each population, are widely separated for the lagoon reef and combined data sets. Conversely, populations from shallow and intermediate depths on the outer reef display overlapping confidence bars indicative of more gradational morphologic changes. When CV's were used to classify specimens to groups, misassignments of intermediate depth specimens to shallow or deep-water populations underscored the gradational nature of the environment. Completely intergrading populations of Favia pallida collected from different depths can be morphologically separated into statistically distinct groupings. A stratigraphic succession of such morphotypes might be interpreted as abruptly appearing separate species if sampling were not as uniform, systematic, and detailed as was possible on modern reefs. Analyses of evolutionary patterns must carefully assess potential effects of clinal variation if past evolutionary patterns are to be interpreted correctly.

  3. Fossilized bioelectric wire - the trace fossil Trichichnus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kędzierski, M.; Uchman, A.; Sawlowicz, Z.; Briguglio, A.

    2015-04-01

    The trace fossil Trichichnus is proposed as an indicator of fossil bioelectric bacterial activity at the oxic-anoxic interface zone of marine sediments. This fulfils the idea that such processes, commonly found in the modern realm, should be also present in the geological past. Trichichnus is an exceptional trace fossil due to its very thin diameter (mostly less than 1 mm) and common pyritic filling. It is ubiquitous in some fine-grained sediments, where it has been interpreted as a burrow formed deeper than any other trace fossils, below the redox boundary. Trichichnus, formerly referred to as deeply burrowed invertebrates, has been found as remnant of a fossilized intrasediment bacterial mat that is pyritized. As visualized in 3-D by means of X-ray computed microtomography scanner, Trichichnus forms dense filamentous fabric, which reflects that it is produced by modern large, mat-forming, sulfide-oxidizing bacteria, belonging mostly to Thioploca-related taxa, which are able to house a complex bacterial consortium. Several stages of Trichichnus formation, including filamentous, bacterial mat and its pyritization, are proposed to explain an electron exchange between oxic and suboxic/anoxic layers in the sediment. Therefore, Trichichnus can be considered a fossilized "electric wire".

  4. Fossilized bioelectric wire - the trace fossil Trichichnus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kędzierski, M.; Uchman, A.; Sawlowicz, Z.; Briguglio, A.

    2014-12-01

    The trace fossil Trichichnus is proposed as an indicator of fossil bioelectric bacterial activity at the interface oxic - anoxic zone of marine sediments. This fulfils the idea that such processes, commonly found in the modern realm, should be also present in the geological past. Trichichnus is an exceptional trace fossil due to its very thin diameter (mostly less than 1 mm) and common pyritic filling. It is ubiquitous in some fine-grained sediments, where it has been interpreted as a burrow formed deeper than any other trace fossils, below the redox boundary. Trichichnus formerly referred to as deeply burrowed invertebrates, has been found as remnant of a fossilized intrasediment bacterial mat that is pyritized. As visualized in 3-D by means of X-ray computed microtomography scanner, Trichichnus forms dense filamentous fabric, which reflects that produced by modern large, mat-forming, sulphide-oxidizing bacteria, belonging mostly to Trichichnus-related taxa, which are able to house a complex bacterial consortium. Several stages of Trichichnus formation, including filamentous, bacterial mat and its pyritization, are proposed to explain an electron exchange between oxic and suboxic/anoxic layers in the sediment. Therefore, Trichichnus can be considered a fossilized "electric wire".

  5. Late Quaternary vegetation and environments in the Verkhoyansk Mountains region (NE Asia) reconstructed from a 50-kyr fossil pollen record from Lake Billyakh

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Müller, Stefanie; Tarasov, Pavel E.; Andreev, Andrei A.; Tütken, Thomas; Gartz, Steffi; Diekmann, Bernhard

    2010-08-01

    Here we present a detailed radiocarbon-dated 936 cm long pollen record from Lake Billyakh (65°17'N, 126°47'E; 340 m a.s.l.) situated in the western part of the Verkhoyansk Mountains, about 140 km south of the Arctic Circle. A set of 53 surface pollen samples representing tundra, cold deciduous forest and taiga was collected in northern and central Yakutia communities to verify the accuracy of the quantitative biome reconstruction method and to obtain a more precise attribution of the identified pollen taxa to the main regional biomes. The adjusted method is then applied to the pollen record from Lake Billyakh to gain a reconstruction of vegetation and environments since about 50.7 kyr BP. The results of the pollen analysis and pollen-based biome reconstruction suggest that herbaceous tundra and steppe communities dominated the area from 50.7 to 13.5 kyr BP. Relatively low pollen concentrations and high percentages of herbaceous pollen taxa (mainly Cyperaceae, Poaceae and Artemisia) likely indicate a reduced vegetation cover and/or lower pollen production. On the other hand, extremely low percentages of drought-tolerant taxa, such as Chenopodiaceae and Ephedra, and the constant presence of various mesophyllous herbaceous ( Thalictrum, Rosaceae, Asteraceae) and shrubby taxa ( Betula sect. Nanae/Fruticosae, Duschekia fruticosa, Salix) in the pollen assemblages prevent an interpretation of the last glacial environments around Lake Billyakh as extremely arid. The lowest pollen percentages of woody taxa and the highest values of Artemisia pollen attest that the 31-15 kyr BP period as the driest and coldest interval of the entire record. A relative high content of taxa representing shrub tundra communities and the presence of larch pollen recorded prior to 31 kyr and after 13.5 kyr BP likely indicate interstadial climate amelioration associated with the middle and latest parts of the last glacial. An increase in pollen percentages of herbaceous taxa around 12 kyr BP suggests broader distribution of drier communities in response to the colder and drier than present climate of the Younger Dryas (YD). The onset of the Holocene is marked in the pollen record by the highest values of shrub taxa, mainly B. sect. Nanae/Fruticosae. Pollen percentages of arboreal taxa increase gradually and reach maximum values after 7 kyr BP. The latter maximum mainly reflects the spread of Pinus sylvestris in central Yakutia as a response to the mid-Holocene climatic optimum. The quasi-continuous presence of larch, shrubby birch and alder pollen throughout the whole record is the most striking feature of the pollen record. Noticeable variations in larch pollen percentages point to multiple short-term warming episodes, which might be synchronous with the Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles in the North Atlantic records. The Lake Billyakh pollen record suggests that larch possibly survived during the last 50 kyr BP in locally favourable environments in the study region.

  6. TESTING POPULATION-SPECIFIC QUANTITATIVE TRAIT ASSOCIATIONS FOR CLINICAL OUTCOME RELEVANCE IN A BIOREPOSITORY LINKED TO ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS: LPA AND MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION IN AFRICAN AMERICANS

    PubMed Central

    Dumitrescu, Logan; Diggins, Kirsten E.; Goodloe, Robert; Crawford, Dana C.

    2015-01-01

    Previous candidate gene and genome-wide association studies have identified common genetic variants in LPA associated with the quantitative trait Lp(a), an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease. These associations are population-specific and many have not yet been tested for association with the clinical outcome of interest. To fill this gap in knowledge, we accessed the epidemiologic Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES III) and BioVU, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center biorepository linked to de-identified electronic health records (EHRs), including billing codes (ICD-9-CM) and clinical notes, to test population-specific Lp(a)-associated variants for an association with myocardial infarction (MI) among African Americans. We performed electronic phenotyping among African Americans in BioVU ≥40 years of age using billing codes. At total of 93 cases and 522 controls were identified in NHANES III and 265 cases and 363 controls were identified in BioVU. We tested five known Lp(a)-associated genetic variants (rs1367211, rs41271028, rs6907156, rs10945682, and rs1652507) in both NHANES III and BioVU for association with myocardial infarction. We also tested LPA rs3798220 (I4399M), previously associated with increased levels of Lp(a), MI, and coronary artery disease in European Americans, in BioVU. After meta-analysis, tests of association using logistic regression assuming an additive genetic model revealed no significant associations (p<0.05) for any of the five LPA variants previously associated with Lp(a) levels in African Americans. Also, I4399M rs3798220 was not associated with MI in African Americans (odds ratio = 0.51; 95% confidence interval: 0.16 – 1.65; p=0.26) despite strong, replicated associations with MI and coronary artery disease in European American genome-wide association studies. These data highlight the challenges in translating quantitative trait associations to clinical outcomes in diverse populations using large epidemiologic and clinic-based collections as envisioned for the Precision Medicine Initiative. PMID:26776177

  7. The ancient sun: Fossil record in the earth, moon and meteorites; Proceedings of the Conference, Boulder, CO, October 16-19, 1979

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pepin, R. O. (Editor); Eddy, J. A.; Merrill, R. B.

    1980-01-01

    Papers are presented concerning theories of solar variability and their consequences for luminosity, particle emission and magnetic field changes within the past 4.5 billion years, and on the records of such solar behavior in lunar, meteoritic and terrestrial materials. Specific topics include the neutrino luminosity of the sun, the relation of sunspots to the terrestrial climate of the past 100 years, solar modulation of galactic cosmic rays, the historical record of solar activity, C-14 variations in terrestrial and marine reservoirs, and solar particle fluxes as indicated by track, thermoluminescence and solar wind measurements in lunar rocks. Attention is also given to the spin-down of the solar interior through circulation currents and fluid instabilities, grain surface exposure models in planetary regoliths, rare gases in the solar wind, nitrogen isotopic variations in the lunar regolith, the influence of solar UV radiation on climate, and the pre-main sequence evolution of the sun and evidence of the primordial solar wind in the electromagnetic induction heating of the asteroids and moon.

  8. Fossil Energy Program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1981-01-01

    Increased utilization of coal and other fossil fuel alternatives as sources of clean energy is reported. The following topics are discussed: coal conversion development, chemical research and development, materials technology, component development and process evaluation studies, technical support to major liquefaction projects, process analysis and engineering evaluations, fossil energy environmental analysis, flue gas desulfurization, solid waste disposal, coal preparation waste utilization, plant control development, atmospheric fluidized bed coal combustor for cogeneration, TVA FBC demonstration plant program technical support, PFBC systems analysis, fossil fuel applications assessments, performance assurance system support for fossil energy projects, international energy technology assessment, and general equilibrium models of liquid and gaseous fuel supplies.

  9. The first recorded decline of the Malvinokaffric Devonian fauna in the Paraná Basin (southern Brazil) and its cause; taphonomic and fossil evidences

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bosetti, Elvio Pinto; Grahn, Yngve; Horodyski, Rodrigo Scalise; Mauller, Paula Mendlowicz

    2012-08-01

    The first recorded decline of the Malvinokaffric Devonian fauna in the Paraná Basin, south Brazil, occurred between early and early late Emsian. The event is recognized on biostratigraphic implications, and it coincides with a regional hiatus resulting from tectonic activity during a Precordilleran epeirogeny. The Emsian beds, dated with palynomorphs, indicate a late Pragian - early Emsian (PoW Su spore Zone) age below, and an early late Emsian (upper FD - lower AP spore Zones) age above the hiatus. The extinctions that occurred between the late Pragian - early Emsian regression, and the initial transgression in the early late Emsian, were extensive and more dramatic than elsewhere on the globe. In the Paraná Basin invertebrates 4 classes, 25 families, 41 genera, and 54 species become extinct. The Emsian sedimentation in the Paraná Basin was realized under constant oscillation of sea level punctuated by storm events, probably due to Milankovitch orbital cycles. It is known that the eccentricity cycles are the most striking in regions at higher latitudes, which was the case of the ParanáBasin during the Emsian. This was, however, not a factor of major importance for the large decline of the fauna. The decline of the shelly fauna was an effect of the late Pragian - early Emsian regression, and the early late Emsian transgression introduced a reduced and less provincial shelly fauna.

  10. Restoring Fossil Creek

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Flaccus, Kathleen; Vlieg, Julie; Marks, Jane C.; LeRoy, Carri J.

    2004-01-01

    Fossil Creek had been dammed for the past 90 years, and plans were underway to restore the stream. The creek runs through Central Arizona and flows from the high plateaus to the desert, cutting through the same formations that form the Grand Canyon. This article discusses the Fossil Creek monitoring project. In this project, students and teachers…

  11. A Review of New and Anticipated High-Resolution Paleoclimate Records from the East African Rift System and Their Implications for Hominin Evolution and Demography

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cohen, A. S.

    2014-12-01

    Our understanding of Late Tertiary/Quaternary climate and environmental history in East Africa has, to date, largely been based on outcrop and marine drill core records. Although these records have proven extremely valuable both in reconstructing environmental change and placing human evolution in an environmental context, their quality is limited by resolution, continuity, uncertainties about superposition and outcrop weathering. To address this problem, long drill core records from extant ancient lakes and lake beds are being collected by several research groups. Long cores (up to 100s of m.) from basin depocenters in both the western and eastern rifts are now available spanning nearly the entire latitudinal range of the East Africa Rift. This network of core records, especially when coupled with outcrop data, is providing an opportunity to compare the nature of important global climate transitions (especially glacial/interglacial events and precessional cycles) across the continent, thereby documenting regional heterogeneity in African climate history. Understanding this heterogeneity is critical for realistically evaluating competing hypotheses of environmental forcing of human evolution, and especially ideas about the dispersal of anatomically modern humans out of Africa in the early Late Pleistocene. In particular, understanding the hydrological and paleoecological history of biogeographic corridors linking eastern Africa, the Nile River Valley and the Levant is likely to be vastly improved through comparative analysis of these new drill cores over the next few years. Because we do not a priori know the primary forcing factors affecting this environmental history, it will essential to develop the best possible age models, employing multiple and novel geochronometric tools to make these comparisons.

  12. Fossil energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1981-12-01

    Research and development programs in support of the increased utilization of coal and other fossil fuel alternatives as sources of clean energy are reported. The following projects are reported: coal conversion development, chemical research and development, materials technology, component development and process evaluation, technical support to major liquefaction, process analysis and engineering evaluations, fossil energy environmental analysis, environmental control technology, coal preparation waste utilization, atmospheric fluidized bed coal combustor for cogeneration, TVA FBC demonstration plant program technical support, PFBC systems analysis, FBC char utilization improvement, fossil fuel applications assessments, performance assurance system support for fossil energy projects, international energy technology, generalized equilibrium models for liquid and gaseous fuel supplies, analysis of coal production, and fossil energy information center.

  13. Calibration of an M L scale for South Africa using tectonic earthquake data recorded by the South African National Seismograph Network: 2006 to 2009

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saunders, Ian; Ottemöller, Lars; Brandt, Martin B. C.; Fourie, Christoffel J. S.

    2013-04-01

    A relation to determine local magnitude ( M L) based on the original Richter definition is empirically derived from synthetic Wood-Anderson seismograms recorded by the South African National Seismograph Network. In total, 263 earthquakes in the distance range 10 to 1,000 km, representing 1,681 trace amplitudes measured in nanometers from synthesized Wood-Anderson records on the vertical channel were considered to derive an attenuation relation appropriate for South Africa through multiple regression analysis. Additionally, station corrections were determined for 26 stations during the regression analysis resulting in values ranging between -0.31 and 0.50. The most appropriate M L scale for South Africa from this study satisfies the equation: {M_{{{L}}}} = {{lo}}{{{g}}_{{10}}}(A) + 1.149{{lo}}{{{g}}_{{10}}}(R) + 0.00063R + 2.04 - S The anelastic attenuation term derived from this study indicates that ground motion attenuation is significantly different from Southern California but comparable with stable continental regions.

  14. The middle Holocene climatic records from Arabia: Reassessing lacustrine environments, shift of ITCZ in Arabian Sea, and impacts of the southwest Indian and African monsoons

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Enzel, Yehouda; Kushnir, Yochanan; Quade, Jay

    2015-06-01

    A dramatic increase in regional summer rainfall amount has been proposed for the Arabian Peninsula during the middle Holocene (ca. 9-5 ka BP) based on lacustrine sediments, inferred lake levels, speleothems, and pollen. This rainfall increase is considered primarily the result of an intensified Indian summer monsoon as part of the insolation-driven, northward shift of the boreal summer position of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) to over the deserts of North Africa, Arabia, and northwest India. We examine the basis for the proposed drastic climate change in Arabia and the shifts in the summer monsoon rains, by reviewing paleohydrologic lacustrine records from Arabia. We evaluate and reinterpret individual lake-basin status regarding their lacustrine-like deposits, physiography, shorelines, fauna and flora, and conclude that these basins were not occupied by lakes, but by shallow marsh environments. Rainfall increase required to support such restricted wetlands is much smaller than needed to form and maintain highly evaporating lakes and we suggest that rainfall changes occurred primarily at the elevated edges of southwestern, southern, and southeastern Arabian Peninsula. These relatively small changes in rainfall amounts and local are also supported by pollen and speleothems from the region. The changes do not require a northward shift of the Northern Hemisphere summer ITCZ and intensification of the Indian monsoon rainfall. We propose that (a) latitudinal and slight inland expansion of the North African summer monsoon rains across the Red Sea, and (b) uplifted moist air of this monsoon to southwestern Arabia highlands, rather than rains associated with intensification of Indian summer monsoon, as proposed before, increased rains in that region; these African monsoon rains produced the modest paleo-wetlands in downstream hyperarid basins. Furthermore, we postulate that as in present-day, the ITCZ in the Indian Ocean remained at or near the equator all year round, and the Indian summer monsoon, through dynamically induced air subsidence, can reduce rather than enhance summer rainfall in the Levant and neighboring deserts, including Arabia. Our summary suggests a widening to the north of the latitudinal range of the rainfall associated with the North African summer monsoon moisture crossing the Red Sea to the east. We discuss other mechanisms that could have potentially contributed to the formation and maintaining of the modest paleo-wetlands.

  15. History of Animals using Isotope Records (HAIR): A 6-year dietary history of one family of African elephants

    PubMed Central

    Cerling, Thure E.; Wittemyer, George; Ehleringer, James R.; Remien, Christopher H.; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain

    2009-01-01

    The dietary and movement history of individual animals can be studied using stable isotope records in animal tissues, providing insight into long-term ecological dynamics and a species niche. We provide a 6-year history of elephant diet by examining tail hair collected from 4 elephants in the same social family unit in northern Kenya. Sequential measurements of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen isotope rations in hair provide a weekly record of diet and water resources. Carbon isotope ratios were well correlated with satellite-based measurements of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) of the region occupied by the elephants as recorded by the global positioning system (GPS) movement record; the absolute amount of C4 grass consumption is well correlated with the maximum value of NDVI during individual wet seasons. Changes in hydrogen isotope ratios coincided very closely in time with seasonal fluctuations in rainfall and NDVI whereas diet shifts to relatively high proportions of grass lagged seasonal increases in NDVI by ≈2 weeks. The peak probability of conception in the population occurred ≈3 weeks after peak grazing. Spatial and temporal patterns of resource use show that the only period of pure browsing by the focal elephants was located in an over-grazed, communally managed region outside the protected area. The ability to extract time-specific longitudinal records on animal diets, and therefore the ecological history of an organism and its environment, provides an avenue for understanding the impact of climate dynamics and land-use change on animal foraging behavior and habitat relations. PMID:19365077

  16. Southern African Phanerozoic marine invertebrates: Biogeography, pal˦oecology, climatology and comments on adjacent regions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Boucot, A. J.

    The Palaeozoic marine invertebrate fossil record in southern Africa is characterised by extensive data for the Early and Middle Devonian but extremely limited or absent for other Palaeozoic Periods. The Mesozoic Era is lacking in marine invertebrate fossils for the Triassic, Late Jurassic, and Cretaceous. For the Cenozoic Era there is limited marine megafossil information. Overall, in benthic, cool waters, Palaeozoic, marine megafossils from southern Africa appear to represent relatively low diversity communities, when compared to ecologically comparable warm water environments elsewhere. However, the marine benthic Cretaceous and Cenozoic faunas of southwestern Africa are typically diverse warm water types, until the later Miocene when cool waters again prevailed. The Benguela Current clearly influenced lower diversity faunas. Climatically, it can be inferred from the marine megabenthic pal˦ontological evidence, thatwarm conditions were present from Early Cambrian until mid-Ordovician times, followed by a much cooler climate that persisted well into the Middle Devonian. The Late Palaeozoic evidence thus indicates cool to cold conditions. In contrast, the Late Permian fossils are consistent with warmer conditions, continuing through Late Jurassic and Cretaceous times along the East African and West African coasts, until the Late Miocene. Within the Gondwanan framework, a Central African region can be envisaged that was subject to non-marine conditions during the entire Phanerozoic Eon. Peripheral to this central African region were marine environments of various ages. The geological history of these peripheral regions was fairly unique. Some features in southern Africa are similar of those found in the Paraná Basin and the Falkland Islands. Most of North Africa from central Senegal to Libya contains a Phanerozoic marine cover extending from the Early Cambrian through to the Carboniferous, characterised by warm water faunas, except for the Ordovician which yields cool-cold water faunas. The Palaeozoic of Arabia, which was an integral part of Africa until the Miocene, has yieldedwarm water fossils.

  17. Fossil energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1981-02-01

    The projects reported include those for coal conversion development, chemical research and development, materials technology, component development and process evaluation studies, technical support to major liquefaction projects, process analysis and engineering evaluations, fossil energy environmental analysis, flue gas desulfurization, plant control development, atmospheric fluidized bed coal combustor for cogeneration, TVA, FBC demonstration plant program technical support, and PFBC systems analysis. Fossil fuel application assessments, performance assurance system support for fossil energy projects, international energy technology assessment, and general equilibrium models of liquid and gaseous fuel supplies are presented.

  18. Fossil fuels -- future fuels

    SciTech Connect

    1998-03-01

    Fossil fuels -- coal, oil, and natural gas -- built America`s historic economic strength. Today, coal supplies more than 55% of the electricity, oil more than 97% of the transportation needs, and natural gas 24% of the primary energy used in the US. Even taking into account increased use of renewable fuels and vastly improved powerplant efficiencies, 90% of national energy needs will still be met by fossil fuels in 2020. If advanced technologies that boost efficiency and environmental performance can be successfully developed and deployed, the US can continue to depend upon its rich resources of fossil fuels.

  19. Fossil energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1981-03-01

    A compendium of monthly progress reports for the ORNL research and development programs that are in support of the increased utilization of coal and other fossil fuel alternatives as sources of clean energy is presented. The projects reported this month include those for coal conversion development, chemical research and development, materials technology, component development and process evaluation, technical support to major liquefaction projects, process analysis; and engineering evaluations, fossil energy environmental analysis, flue gas desulfurization, solid waste disposal, coal preparation and waste utilization, plant control development, atmospheric fluidized bed coal combustor for cogeneration, Tennessee Valley Authority Fluidized Bed Combustion demonstration plant program technical support, PFBC systems analysis, fossil fuel applications assessments, performance assurance system support for fossil energy projects, international energy technology assessment, and generalized equilibrium models of liquid and gaseous fuel supplies.

  20. Fossil energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    1980-04-01

    Research and development projects that were carried out in support of the increased utilization of coal are described. Other fossil fuel alternatives to oil and gas as sources of clean energy are described.

  1. Innovative tephra studies in the East African Rift System

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    WoldeGabriel, Giday; Hart, William K.; Heiken, Grant

    Geosciences investigations form the foundation for paleoanthropological research in the East African Rift System. However, innovative applications of tephra studies for constraining spatial and temporal relations of diverse geological processes, biostratigraphic records, and paleoenvironmental conditions within the East African Rift System were fueled by paleoanthropological investigations into the origin and evolution of hominids and material culture. Tephra is a collective, size-independent term used for any material ejected during an explosive volcanic eruption.The East African Rift System has become a magnet for paleoanthropological research ever since the discovery of the first hominids at Olduvai Gorge, in Tanzania, in the 1950s [Leakey et al., 1961]. Currently, numerous multidisciplinary scientific teams from academic institutions in the United States and Western Europe make annual pilgrimages for a couple of months to conduct paleoanthropological field research in the fossil-rich sedimentary deposits of the East African Rift System in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The field expedition consists of geological, paleontological, archaeological, and paleoenvironmental investigations.

  2. Fossil energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1981-12-01

    The progress made during the period from July 1 through September 30 for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory research and development projects in support of the increased utilization of coal and other fossil fuels as sources of clean energy is reported. The following topics are discussed: coal conversion development, chemical research and development, materials technology, fossil energy materials program, liquefaction projects, component development, process analysis, environmental control technology, atmospheric fluidized bed combustion, underground coal gasification, coal preparation and waste utilization.

  3. Fossil Record of Precambrian Life on Land

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knauth, Paul

    2000-01-01

    The argument that the earth's early ocean was up to two times modern salinity was published in 'Nature' and presented at the 1998 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Toronto. The argument is bolstered by chemical data for fluid inclusions in Archean black smokers. The inclusions were 1.7 times the modern salinity causing the authors to interpret the parent fluids as evaporite brines (in a deep marine setting). I reinterpreted the data in terms of the predicted value of high Archean salinities. If the arguments I presented are on track, early life was either halophilic or non-marine. Halophiles are not among the most primitive organisms based on RNA sequencing, so here is an a priori argument that non-marine environments may have been the site of most early biologic evolution. This result carries significant implications for the issue of past life on Mars or current life on the putative sub-ice oceans on Europa and possibly Callisto. If the Cl/H2O ratio on these objects is similar to that of the earth, then oceans and oceanic sediments are probably not the preferred sites for early life. On Mars, this means that non-marine deposits such as caliche in basalt may be an overlooked potential sample target.

  4. Globular cluster formation - The fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Murray, Stephen D.; Lin, Douglas N. C.

    1992-01-01

    Properties of globular clusters which have remained unchanged since their formation are used to infer the internal pressures, cooling times, and dynamical times of the protocluster clouds immediately prior to the onset of star formation. For all globular clusters examined, it is found that the cooling times are much less than the dynamical times, implying that the protoclusters must have been maintained in thermal equilibrium by external heat sources, with fluxes consistent with those found in previous work, and giving the observed rho-T relation. Self-gravitating clouds cannot be stably heated, so that the Jeans mass forms an upper limit to the cluster masses. The observed dependence of protocluster pressure upon galactocentric position implies that the protocluster clouds were in hydrostatic equilibrium after their formation. The pressure dependence is well fitted by that expected for a quasi-statically evolving background hot gas, shock heated to its virial temperature. The observations and inferences are combined with previous theoretical work to construct a picture of globular cluster formation.

  5. New species and new records of Pterosthetops: eumadicolous water beetles of the South African Cape (Coleoptera, Hydraenidae).

    PubMed

    Bilton, David T

    2014-01-01

    Pterosthetops is one of a number of hydraenid genera endemic to the Cape of South Africa, whose minute moss beetle fauna is amongst the most diverse on earth. Here seven species are described as new: Pterosthetops baini sp. nov., Pterosthetops coriaceus sp. nov., Pterosthetops indwei sp. nov., Ptersothetops pulcherrimus sp. nov., Pterosthetops swartbergensis sp. nov., Pterosthetops tuberculatus sp. nov. and Pterosthetops uitkyki sp. nov., all from mountains in the Western Cape region. New collection records are also provided for all five previously described members of the genus, together with a revised key. Pterosthetops appear to be specialist inhabitants of seepages over rock faces (hygropetric/madicolous habitats), rarely being found outside such situations. PMID:24943181

  6. Distribution of tetraether lipids in the 25-ka sedimentary record of Lake Challa: extracting reliable TEX86 and MBT/CBT palaeotemperatures from an equatorial African lake

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sinninghe Damsté, Jaap S.; Ossebaar, Jort; Schouten, Stefan; Verschuren, Dirk

    2012-09-01

    The distribution of isoprenoid and branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT) lipids was studied in the sedimentary record of Lake Challa, a permanently stratified, partly anoxic crater lake on the southeastern slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro (Kenya/Tanzania), to examine if the GDGTs could be used to reconstruct past variation in regional temperature. The study material comprised 230 samples from a continuous sediment sequence spanning the last 25 ka with excellent age control based on high-resolution AMS 14C dating. The distribution of GDGTs showed large variation through time. In some time intervals (i.e., from 20.4 to 15.9 ka BP and during the Younger Dryas, 12.9-11.7 ka BP) crenarchaeol was the most abundant GDGT, whereas at other times (i.e., during the Early Holocene) branched GDGTs and GDGT-0 were the major GDGT constituents. In some intervals of the sequence the relative abundance of GDGT-0 and GDGT-2 was too high to be derived exclusively from lacustrine Thaumarchaeota, suggesting a sizable contribution from methanogens and other archaea. This severely complicated application of TEX86 palaeothermometry in this lake, and limited reliable reconstruction of lake water temperature to the time interval 25-13 ka BP, i.e. the Last Glacial Maximum and the period of post-glacial warming. The TEX86-inferred timing of this warming is similar to that recorded previously in two of the large African rift lakes, while its magnitude is slightly or much higher than that recorded at these other sites, depending on which lake-based TEX86 calibration is used. Application of calibration models based on distributions of branched GDGTs developed for lakes inferred temperatures of 15-18 °C for the Last Glacial Maximum and 19-22 °C for the Holocene. However, the MBT/CBT palaeothermometer reconstructs temperatures as low as 12 °C for a Lateglacial period centred on 15 ka BP. Variation in down-core values of the BIT index are mainly determined by the varying production rate of crenarchaeol relative to in-situ produced branched GDGTs. The apparent relationship of the BIT index with climatic moisture balance can be explained either by the direct influence of lake level and wind strength on nutrient recycling, or by influx of soil nutrients promoting aquatic productivity and nitrification. This study shows that GDGTs can aid in obtaining climatic information from lake records but that the obtained data should be interpreted with care.

  7. Continuous 1.3-million-year record of East African hydroclimate, and implications for patterns of evolution and biodiversity

    PubMed Central

    Lyons, Robert P.; Scholz, Christopher A.; Cohen, Andrew S.; King, John W.; Brown, Erik T.; Ivory, Sarah J.; Johnson, Thomas C.; Deino, Alan L.; Reinthal, Peter N.; McGlue, Michael M.; Blome, Margaret W.

    2015-01-01

    The transport of moisture in the tropics is a critical process for the global energy budget and on geologic timescales, has markedly influenced continental landscapes, migratory pathways, and biological evolution. Here we present a continuous, first-of-its-kind 1.3-My record of continental hydroclimate and lake-level variability derived from drill core data from Lake Malawi, East Africa (9–15° S). Over the Quaternary, we observe dramatic shifts in effective moisture, resulting in large-scale changes in one of the world’s largest lakes and most diverse freshwater ecosystems. Results show evidence for 24 lake level drops of more than 200 m during the Late Quaternary, including 15 lowstands when water levels were more than 400 m lower than modern. A dramatic shift is observed at the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT), consistent with far-field climate forcing, which separates vastly different hydroclimate regimes before and after ∼800,000 years ago. Before 800 ka, lake levels were lower, indicating a climate drier than today, and water levels changed frequently. Following the MPT high-amplitude lake level variations dominate the record. From 800 to 100 ka, a deep, often overfilled lake occupied the basin, indicating a wetter climate, but these highstands were interrupted by prolonged intervals of extreme drought. Periods of high lake level are observed during times of high eccentricity. The extreme hydroclimate variability exerted a profound influence on the Lake Malawi endemic cichlid fish species flock; the geographically extensive habitat reconfiguration provided novel ecological opportunities, enabling new populations to differentiate rapidly to distinct species. PMID:26644580

  8. Continuous 1.3-million-year record of East African hydroclimate, and implications for patterns of evolution and biodiversity.

    PubMed

    Lyons, Robert P; Scholz, Christopher A; Cohen, Andrew S; King, John W; Brown, Erik T; Ivory, Sarah J; Johnson, Thomas C; Deino, Alan L; Reinthal, Peter N; McGlue, Michael M; Blome, Margaret W

    2015-12-22

    The transport of moisture in the tropics is a critical process for the global energy budget and on geologic timescales, has markedly influenced continental landscapes, migratory pathways, and biological evolution. Here we present a continuous, first-of-its-kind 1.3-My record of continental hydroclimate and lake-level variability derived from drill core data from Lake Malawi, East Africa (9-15° S). Over the Quaternary, we observe dramatic shifts in effective moisture, resulting in large-scale changes in one of the world's largest lakes and most diverse freshwater ecosystems. Results show evidence for 24 lake level drops of more than 200 m during the Late Quaternary, including 15 lowstands when water levels were more than 400 m lower than modern. A dramatic shift is observed at the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT), consistent with far-field climate forcing, which separates vastly different hydroclimate regimes before and after ∼800,000 years ago. Before 800 ka, lake levels were lower, indicating a climate drier than today, and water levels changed frequently. Following the MPT high-amplitude lake level variations dominate the record. From 800 to 100 ka, a deep, often overfilled lake occupied the basin, indicating a wetter climate, but these highstands were interrupted by prolonged intervals of extreme drought. Periods of high lake level are observed during times of high eccentricity. The extreme hydroclimate variability exerted a profound influence on the Lake Malawi endemic cichlid fish species flock; the geographically extensive habitat reconfiguration provided novel ecological opportunities, enabling new populations to differentiate rapidly to distinct species. PMID:26644580

  9. Fossil Simulation in the Classroom

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hoehn, Robert G.

    1977-01-01

    Describes classroom science demonstrations and experiments that simulate the process of fossil formation. Lists materials, procedures and suggestions for successful activities. Includes ten student activities (coral fossils, leaf fossils, leaf scars, carbonization, etc.). Describes a fossil game in which students work in pairs. (CS)

  10. Timing and location of reproduction in African waterfowl: an overview of >100 years of nest records.

    PubMed

    Cumming, Graeme S; Harebottle, Douglas M; Mundava, Josphine; Otieno, Nickson; Tyler, Stephanie J

    2016-02-01

    The timing and location of reproduction are fundamental elements of reproductive success for all organisms. Understanding why animals choose to reproduce at particular times and in particular places is also important for our understanding of other aspects of organismal ecology, such as their habitat requirements, movement strategies, and biogeography. Although breeding patterns in waterfowl are relatively well documented, most studies are from northern temperate regions and the influences of location and time of year on breeding in Afrotropical ducks (Anatidae) are poorly understood. We outline six alternative (but not mutually exclusive) hypotheses that might explain where and when Afrotropical ducks choose to breed. To explore these hypotheses, we assembled and analyzed a new database of c. 22,000 breeding records for 16 Afrotropical ducks and one introduced Palearctic species (the Mallard Anas platyrhynchos). The full database is available on line as an appendix to this article. We identified five distinct breeding strategies as well as two outliers. Peak breeding for 9 of 16 indigenous duck species occurs during the dry season. We found no evidence for spatial synchrony or spatial autocorrelation in breeding, suggesting a high level of flexibility in waterfowl responses to prevailing conditions in any given year. More intensive analyses of alternative hypotheses are needed, but our initial analysis suggests that the timing of breeding for the majority of Afrotropical ducks is driven by a combination of resource availability and predation risk. PMID:26865954

  11. North African dust and its relation to paleoclimate recorded in a sediment core from Northwest Providence Channel, Bahamas

    SciTech Connect

    Eaton, M.R.; Boardman, M.R.

    1985-01-01

    Studies of the vertical distribution of insoluble residue in an 11.7 meter core recovered from 665m water depth within Northwest Providence Channel, Bahamas demonstrate cyclic fluctuations in the content and mineralogy of the insoluble residue. The insoluble residue consists of chlorite, montmorillonite, illite and kaolinite with alternating layers enriched in chlorite or montmorillonite. These fluctuations in the character of insoluble residue correspond to fluctuations of the record of oxygen isotopes and foraminiferal assemblages (paleoclimate) and of carbonate mineralogy (sea level). During glacial periods, insoluble residue concentration is high, dolomite is present and quartz, plagioclase and chlorite concentrations increase. During interglacial periods, insoluble residue concentration is low, dolomite is absent and quartz, plagioclase and chlorite concentration decreases while montmorillonite concentration increases. The source of the insoluble residue is dust derived from North Africa and transported by the Saharan Air Layer coupled with the Northeast Trades. During glacial periods, the source of the dust is the dolomite-rich southern North Africa region. This shift of the dust source suggests that the trade winds transporting the dust during glacial periods also shifted southward or expanded or both.

  12. Surface Model and Tomographic Archive of Fossil Primate and Other Mammal Holotype and Paratype Specimens of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, Pretoria, South Africa

    PubMed Central

    Adams, Justin W.; Olah, Angela; McCurry, Matthew R.; Potze, Stephany

    2015-01-01

    Nearly a century of paleontological excavation and analysis from the cave deposits of the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site in northeastern South Africa underlies much of our understanding of the evolutionary history of hominins, other primates and other mammal lineages in the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene of Africa. As one of few designated fossil repositories, the Plio-Pleistocene Palaeontology Section of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (DNMNH; the former Transvaal Museum) curates much of the mammalian faunas recovered from the fossil-rich deposits of major South African hominin-bearing localities, including the holotype and paratype specimens of many primate, carnivore, and other mammal species (Orders Primates, Carnivora, Artiodactyla, Eulipotyphla, Hyracoidea, Lagomorpha, Perissodactyla, and Proboscidea). Here we describe an open-access digital archive of high-resolution, full-color three-dimensional (3D) surface meshes of all 89 non-hominin holotype, paratype and significant mammalian specimens curated in the Plio-Pleistocene Section vault. Surface meshes were generated using a commercial surface scanner (Artec Spider, Artec Group, Luxembourg), are provided in formats that can be opened in both open-source and commercial software, and can be readily downloaded either via an online data repository (MorphoSource) or via direct request from the DNMNH. In addition to providing surface meshes for each specimen, we also provide tomographic data (both computerized tomography [CT] and microfocus [microCT]) for a subset of these fossil specimens. This archive of the DNMNH Plio-Pleistocene collections represents the first research-quality 3D datasets of African mammal fossils to be made openly available. This simultaneously provides the paleontological community with essential baseline information (e.g., updated listing and 3D record of specimens in their current state of preservation) and serves as a single resource of high-resolution digital data that improves collections accessibility, reduces unnecessary duplication of efforts by researchers, and encourages ongoing imaging-based paleobiological research across a range of South African non-hominin fossil faunas. Because the types, paratypes, and key specimens include globally-distributed mammal taxa, this digital archive not only provides 3D morphological data on taxa fundamental to Neogene and Quaternary South African palaeontology, but also lineages critical to research on African, other Old World, and New World paleocommunities. With such a broader impact of the DNMNH 3D data, we hope that establishing open access to this digital archive will encourage other researchers and institutions to provide similar resources that increase accessibility to paleontological collections and support advanced paleobiological analyses. PMID:26441324

  13. Surface Model and Tomographic Archive of Fossil Primate and Other Mammal Holotype and Paratype Specimens of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, Pretoria, South Africa.

    PubMed

    Adams, Justin W; Olah, Angela; McCurry, Matthew R; Potze, Stephany

    2015-01-01

    Nearly a century of paleontological excavation and analysis from the cave deposits of the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site in northeastern South Africa underlies much of our understanding of the evolutionary history of hominins, other primates and other mammal lineages in the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene of Africa. As one of few designated fossil repositories, the Plio-Pleistocene Palaeontology Section of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (DNMNH; the former Transvaal Museum) curates much of the mammalian faunas recovered from the fossil-rich deposits of major South African hominin-bearing localities, including the holotype and paratype specimens of many primate, carnivore, and other mammal species (Orders Primates, Carnivora, Artiodactyla, Eulipotyphla, Hyracoidea, Lagomorpha, Perissodactyla, and Proboscidea). Here we describe an open-access digital archive of high-resolution, full-color three-dimensional (3D) surface meshes of all 89 non-hominin holotype, paratype and significant mammalian specimens curated in the Plio-Pleistocene Section vault. Surface meshes were generated using a commercial surface scanner (Artec Spider, Artec Group, Luxembourg), are provided in formats that can be opened in both open-source and commercial software, and can be readily downloaded either via an online data repository (MorphoSource) or via direct request from the DNMNH. In addition to providing surface meshes for each specimen, we also provide tomographic data (both computerized tomography [CT] and microfocus [microCT]) for a subset of these fossil specimens. This archive of the DNMNH Plio-Pleistocene collections represents the first research-quality 3D datasets of African mammal fossils to be made openly available. This simultaneously provides the paleontological community with essential baseline information (e.g., updated listing and 3D record of specimens in their current state of preservation) and serves as a single resource of high-resolution digital data that improves collections accessibility, reduces unnecessary duplication of efforts by researchers, and encourages ongoing imaging-based paleobiological research across a range of South African non-hominin fossil faunas. Because the types, paratypes, and key specimens include globally-distributed mammal taxa, this digital archive not only provides 3D morphological data on taxa fundamental to Neogene and Quaternary South African palaeontology, but also lineages critical to research on African, other Old World, and New World paleocommunities. With such a broader impact of the DNMNH 3D data, we hope that establishing open access to this digital archive will encourage other researchers and institutions to provide similar resources that increase accessibility to paleontological collections and support advanced paleobiological analyses. PMID:26441324

  14. An early Oligocene fossil demonstrates treeshrews are slowly evolving "living fossils".

    PubMed

    Li, Qiang; Ni, Xijun

    2016-01-01

    Treeshrews are widely considered a "living model" of an ancestral primate, and have long been called "living fossils". Actual fossils of treeshrews, however, are extremely rare. We report a new fossil species of Ptilocercus treeshrew recovered from the early Oligocene (~34 Ma) of China that represents the oldest definitive fossil record of the crown group of treeshrews and nearly doubles the temporal length of their fossil record. The fossil species is strikingly similar to the living Ptilocercus lowii, a species generally recognized as the most plesiomorphic extant treeshrew. It demonstrates that Ptilocercus treeshrews have undergone little evolutionary change in their morphology since the early Oligocene. Morphological comparisons and phylogenetic analysis support the long-standing idea that Ptilocercus treeshrews are morphologically conservative and have probably retained many characters present in the common stock that gave rise to archontans, which include primates, flying lemurs, plesiadapiforms and treeshrews. This discovery provides an exceptional example of slow morphological evolution in a mammalian group over a period of 34 million years. The persistent and stable tropical environment in Southeast Asia through the Cenozoic likely played a critical role in the survival of such a morphologically conservative lineage. PMID:26766238

  15. Documenting biogeographical patterns of African timber species using herbarium records: a conservation perspective based on native trees from Angola.

    PubMed

    Romeiras, Maria M; Figueira, Rui; Duarte, Maria Cristina; Beja, Pedro; Darbyshire, Iain

    2014-01-01

    In many tropical regions the development of informed conservation strategies is hindered by a dearth of biodiversity information. Biological collections can help to overcome this problem, by providing baseline information to guide research and conservation efforts. This study focuses on the timber trees of Angola, combining herbarium (2670 records) and bibliographic data to identify the main timber species, document biogeographic patterns and identify conservation priorities. The study recognized 18 key species, most of which are threatened or near-threatened globally, or lack formal conservation assessments. Biogeographical analysis reveals three groups of species associated with the enclave of Cabinda and northwest Angola, which occur primarily in Guineo-Congolian rainforests, and evergreen forests and woodlands. The fourth group is widespread across the country, and is mostly associated with dry forests. There is little correspondence between the spatial pattern of species groups and the ecoregions adopted by WWF, suggesting that these may not provide an adequate basis for conservation planning for Angolan timber trees. Eight of the species evaluated should be given high conservation priority since they are of global conservation concern, they have very restricted distributions in Angola, their historical collection localities are largely outside protected areas and they may be under increasing logging pressure. High conservation priority was also attributed to another three species that have a large proportion of their global range concentrated in Angola and that occur in dry forests where deforestation rates are high. Our results suggest that timber tree species in Angola may be under increasing risk, thus calling for efforts to promote their conservation and sustainable exploitation. The study also highlights the importance of studying historic herbarium collections in poorly explored regions of the tropics, though new field surveys remain a priority to update historical information. PMID:25061858

  16. Documenting Biogeographical Patterns of African Timber Species Using Herbarium Records: A Conservation Perspective Based on Native Trees from Angola

    PubMed Central

    Romeiras, Maria M.; Figueira, Rui; Duarte, Maria Cristina; Beja, Pedro; Darbyshire, Iain

    2014-01-01

    In many tropical regions the development of informed conservation strategies is hindered by a dearth of biodiversity information. Biological collections can help to overcome this problem, by providing baseline information to guide research and conservation efforts. This study focuses on the timber trees of Angola, combining herbarium (2670 records) and bibliographic data to identify the main timber species, document biogeographic patterns and identify conservation priorities. The study recognized 18 key species, most of which are threatened or near-threatened globally, or lack formal conservation assessments. Biogeographical analysis reveals three groups of species associated with the enclave of Cabinda and northwest Angola, which occur primarily in Guineo-Congolian rainforests, and evergreen forests and woodlands. The fourth group is widespread across the country, and is mostly associated with dry forests. There is little correspondence between the spatial pattern of species groups and the ecoregions adopted by WWF, suggesting that these may not provide an adequate basis for conservation planning for Angolan timber trees. Eight of the species evaluated should be given high conservation priority since they are of global conservation concern, they have very restricted distributions in Angola, their historical collection localities are largely outside protected areas and they may be under increasing logging pressure. High conservation priority was also attributed to another three species that have a large proportion of their global range concentrated in Angola and that occur in dry forests where deforestation rates are high. Our results suggest that timber tree species in Angola may be under increasing risk, thus calling for efforts to promote their conservation and sustainable exploitation. The study also highlights the importance of studying historic herbarium collections in poorly explored regions of the tropics, though new field surveys remain a priority to update historical information. PMID:25061858

  17. Combining kimberlite (U-Th)/He dating with the mantle xenolith record to decipher elevation change in continental interiors: an example from the southern African Plateau

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stanley, J. R.; Flowers, R. M.; Bell, D. R.

    2013-12-01

    Deciphering the patterns and causes of erosion and elevation change histories in continental interiors is commonly not straightforward. Many continental shield regions are repeatedly intruded by small volume kimberlite magmas, which often contain rich xenolith records of the state of the lithosphere and the sedimentary cover at the time of eruption. Here we show that dating kimberlites with apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronometry (AHe), a tool used to constrain thermal histories within the upper 1-3 km of the crust, can tightly bracket the timing of erosion through comparison of cooling dates and eruption ages. Mantle xenoliths from kimberlites erupted at different times also record perturbations to the lithospheric mantle, indicators of changes to the mantle below. The coeval deep and shallow records of kimberlite pipes thus allow the potential to link deep earth processes with the surface response. The southern African Plateau was elevated from sea level to >1000 m elevation in post-Paleozoic time while distal from convergent plate boundaries and with little surface deformation. The timing and mechanisms of surface uplift are debated. AHe data for four kimberlites off the southwestern corner of the Kaapvaal Craton indicate a substantial Mesozoic unroofing episode that was largely completed by 90 Ma. This erosion phase is contemporaneous with significant warming, metasomatism, and thinning of the lithospheric mantle revealed in the peridotite xenoliths and garnet xenocrysts in these same pipes. We suggest that this surface signal is the erosional response to regional, mantle-induced surface uplift. These data also detect a lesser Cenozoic erosion signature in some pipes, focused around a proposed Tertiary paleo-tributary to the Orange River, suggesting that the Cenozoic signal is associated with drainage network evolution rather than long-wavelength surface uplift. Preliminary data from an E-W transect of kimberlites across the Kaapvaal Craton from Kimberley to the Lesotho highlands yields mean AHe dates ~75-85 Ma, suggesting younger Mesozoic unroofing than the off-craton group to the southwest. Together these results suggest an intriguing heterogeneity in unroofing across the plateau. This work demonstrates that combining kimberlite AHe dating with the unique geologic constraints provided by the kimberlite-borne xenoliths can help discern between erosion driven by a variety of processes, including the long wavelength response to deep-seated uplift and the more focused response to paleodrainage evolution.

  18. Discovering Hominins - Application of Medical Computed Tomography (CT) to Fossil-Bearing Rocks from the Site of Malapa, South Africa.

    PubMed

    Smilg, Jacqueline S; Berger, Lee R

    2015-01-01

    In the South African context, computed tomography (CT) has been used applied to individually prepared fossils and small rocks containing fossils, but has not been utilized on large breccia blocks as a means of discovering fossils, and particularly fossil hominins. Previous attempts at CT imaging of rocks from other South African sites for this purpose yielded disappointing results. For this study, 109 fossil- bearing rocks from the site of Malapa, South Africa were scanned with medical CT prior to manual preparation. The resultant images were assessed for accuracy of fossil identification and characterization against the standard of manual preparation. The accurate identification of fossils, including those of early hominins, that were not visible on the surface of individual blocks, is shown to be possible. The discovery of unexpected fossils is reduced, thus lowering the potential that fossils could be damaged through accidental encounter during routine preparation, or even entirely missed. This study should significantly change the way fossil discovery, recovery and preparation is done in the South African context and has potential for application in other palaeontological situations. Medical CT imaging is shown to be reliable, readily available, cost effective and accurate in finding fossils within matrix conglomerates. Improvements in CT equipment and in CT image quality are such that medical CT is now a viable imaging modality for this palaeontological application. PMID:26684299

  19. Discovering Hominins - Application of Medical Computed Tomography (CT) to Fossil-Bearing Rocks from the Site of Malapa, South Africa

    PubMed Central

    Smilg, Jacqueline S.; Berger, Lee R.

    2015-01-01

    In the South African context, computed tomography (CT) has been used applied to individually prepared fossils and small rocks containing fossils, but has not been utilized on large breccia blocks as a means of discovering fossils, and particularly fossil hominins. Previous attempts at CT imaging of rocks from other South African sites for this purpose yielded disappointing results. For this study, 109 fossil- bearing rocks from the site of Malapa, South Africa were scanned with medical CT prior to manual preparation. The resultant images were assessed for accuracy of fossil identification and characterization against the standard of manual preparation. The accurate identification of fossils, including those of early hominins, that were not visible on the surface of individual blocks, is shown to be possible. The discovery of unexpected fossils is reduced, thus lowering the potential that fossils could be damaged through accidental encounter during routine preparation, or even entirely missed. This study should significantly change the way fossil discovery, recovery and preparation is done in the South African context and has potential for application in other palaeontological situations. Medical CT imaging is shown to be reliable, readily available, cost effective and accurate in finding fossils within matrix conglomerates. Improvements in CT equipment and in CT image quality are such that medical CT is now a viable imaging modality for this palaeontological application. PMID:26684299

  20. Fossil energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1981-01-01

    Progress is reported for the period July 1 through September 30 for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory research and development projects that are carried out in support of the increased utilization of coal and other fossil fuels as sources of clean energy. These projects are supported by various parts of DOE including Fossil Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Health and Environmental Research, Office of Environmental Compliance and Overview, Economic Regulatory Administration, Power Research Institute, and by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the EPA Office of Research and Development through interagency agreements

  1. Molecules, morphometrics and new fossils provide an integrated view of the evolutionary history of Rhinopomatidae (Mammalia: Chiroptera)

    PubMed Central

    Hulva, Pavel; Hor?ek, Ivan; Benda, Petr

    2007-01-01

    Background The Rhinopomatidae, traditionally considered to be one of the most ancient chiropteran clades, remains one of the least known groups of Rhinolophoidea. No relevant fossil record is available for this family. Whereas there have been extensive radiations in related families Rhinolophidae and Hipposideridae, there are only a few species in the Rhinopomatidae and their phylogenetic relationship and status are not fully understood. Results Here we present (a) a phylogenetic analysis based on a partial cytochrome b sequence, (b) new fossils from the Upper Miocene site Elaiochoria 2 (Chalkidiki, Greece), which represents the first appearance datum of the family based on the fossil record, and (c) discussion of the phylogeographic patterns in both molecular and morphological traits. We found deep divergences in the Rhinopoma hardwickii lineage, suggesting that the allopatric populations in (i) Iran and (ii) North Africa and the Middle East should have separate species status. The latter species (R. cystops) exhibits a shallow pattern of isolation by distance (separating the Middle East and the African populations) that contrasts with the pattern of geographic variation in the morphometrical traits. A deep genetic gap was also found in Rhinopoma muscatellum (Iran vs. Yemen). We found only minute genetic distance between R. microphyllum from the Levant and India, which fails to support the sub/species distinctness of the Indian form (R. microphyllum kinneari). Conclusion The mtDNA survey provided phylogenetic tree of the family Rhinopomatidae for the first time and revealed an unexpected diversification of the group both within R. hardwickii and R. muscatellum morphospecies. The paleobiogeographic scenario compiled in respect to molecular clock data suggests that the family originated in the region south of the Eocene Western Tethyan seaway or in India, and extended its range during the Early Miocene. The fossil record suggests a Miocene spread into the Mediterranean region, followed by a post-Miocene retreat. Morphological analysis compared with genetic data indicates considerable phenotypic plasticity in this group. PMID:17868440

  2. Fossil energy program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNeese, L. E.

    1981-04-01

    Progress made during the period October 1 through December 31 for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory research and development projects, carried out in support of the increased utilization of coal and other fossil fuels as sources of clean energy, is described.

  3. Advanced fossil energy utilization

    SciTech Connect

    Shekhawat, D.; Berry, D.; Spivey, J.; Pennline, H.; Granite, E.

    2010-01-01

    This special issue of Fuel is a selection of papers presented at the symposium ‘Advanced Fossil Energy Utilization’ co-sponsored by the Fuels and Petrochemicals Division and Research and New Technology Committee in the 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Spring National Meeting Tampa, FL, on April 26–30, 2009.

  4. Fossil-Fired Boilers

    Energy Science and Technology Software Center (ESTSC)

    1993-09-23

    Boiler Performance Model (BPM 3.0S) is a set of computer programs developed to analyze the performance of fossil-fired utility boilers. The programs can model a wide variety of boiler designs, and can model coal, oil, or natural gas firing. The programs are intended for use by engineers performing analyses of alternative fuels, alternative operating modes, or boiler modifications.

  5. Macroevolutionary developmental biology: Embryos, fossils, and phylogenies.

    PubMed

    Organ, Chris L; Cooper, Lisa Noelle; Hieronymus, Tobin L

    2015-10-01

    The field of evolutionary developmental biology is broadly focused on identifying the genetic and developmental mechanisms underlying morphological diversity. Connecting the genotype with the phenotype means that evo-devo research often considers a wide range of evidence, from genetics and morphology to fossils. In this commentary, we provide an overview and framework for integrating fossil ontogenetic data with developmental data using phylogenetic comparative methods to test macroevolutionary hypotheses. We survey the vertebrate fossil record of preserved embryos and discuss how phylogenetic comparative methods can integrate data from developmental genetics and paleontology. Fossil embryos provide limited, yet critical, developmental data from deep time. They help constrain when developmental innovations first appeared during the history of life and also reveal the order in which related morphologies evolved. Phylogenetic comparative methods provide a powerful statistical approach that allows evo-devo researchers to infer the presence of nonpreserved developmental traits in fossil species and to detect discordant evolutionary patterns and processes across levels of biological organization. PMID:26250386

  6. New hominid fossils from the Swartkrans formation (1979-1986 excavations): postcranial specimens.

    PubMed

    Susman, R L

    1989-08-01

    New postcranial fossils of Paranthropus robustus and Homo cf. erectus were recovered from Swartkrans from 1979 through 1986. These fossils are from Members 1, 2, and 3. The new fossils are described here along with their morphological affinities. Fossils that are assigned to Paranthropus indicate that the South African "robust" australopithecines engaged in tool behavior and were essentially terrestrial bipeds at around 1.8 Myr BP. The manual dexterity and bipedal locomotion of Paranthropus may have equaled that of Homo habilis in East Africa at approximately the same time. PMID:2672829

  7. Fossil Crustaceans as Parasites and Hosts.

    PubMed

    Klompmaker, Adiël A; Boxshall, Geoff A

    2015-01-01

    Numerous crustacean lineages have independently moved into parasitism as a mode of life. In modern marine ecosystems, parasitic crustaceans use representatives from many metazoan phyla as hosts. Crustaceans also serve as hosts to a rich diversity of parasites, including other crustaceans. Here, we show that the fossil record of such parasitic interactions is sparse, with only 11 examples, one dating back to the Cambrian. This may be due to the limited preservation potential and small size of parasites, as well as to problems with ascribing traces to parasitism with certainty, and to a lack of targeted research. Although the confirmed stratigraphic ranges are limited for nearly every example, evidence of parasitism related to crustaceans has become increasingly more complete for isopod-induced swellings in decapods so that quantitative analyses can be carried out. Little attention has yet been paid to the origin of parasitism in deep time, but insight can be generated by integrating data on fossils with molecular studies on modern parasites. In addition, there are other traces left by parasites that could fossilize, but have not yet been recognized in the fossil record. PMID:26597069

  8. Sustainability of Fossil Fuels

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lackner, K. S.

    2002-05-01

    For a sustainable world economy, energy is a bottleneck. Energy is at the basis of a modern, technological society, but unlike materials it cannot be recycled. Energy or more precisely "negentropy" (the opposite of entropy) is always consumed. Thus, one either accepts the use of large but finite resources or must stay within the limits imposed by dilute but self-renewing resources like sunlight. The challenge of sustainable energy is exacerbated by likely growth in world energy demand due to increased population and increased wealth. Most of the world still has to undergo the transition to a wealthy, stable society with the near zero population growth that characterizes a modern industrial society. This represents a huge unmet demand. If ten billion people were to consume energy like North Americans do today, world energy demand would be ten times higher. In addition, technological advances while often improving energy efficiency tend to raise energy demand by offering more opportunity for consumption. Energy consumption still increases at close to the 2.3% per year that would lead to a tenfold increase over the course of the next century. Meeting future energy demands while phasing out fossil fuels appears extremely difficult. Instead, the world needs sustainable or nearly sustainable fossil fuels. I propose the following definition of sustainable under which fossil fuels would well qualify: The use of a technology or resource is sustainable if the intended and unintended consequences will not force its abandonment within a reasonable planning horizon. Of course sustainable technologies must not be limited by resource depletion but this is only one of many concerns. Environmental impacts, excessive land use, and other constraints can equally limit the use of a technology and thus render it unsustainable. In the foreseeable future, fossil fuels are not limited by resource depletion. However, environmental concerns based on climate change and other environmental effects of injecting excess carbon into the environment need to be eliminated before fossil fuels can be considered sustainable. Sustainable fossil fuel use would likely rely on abundant, low-grade hydrocarbons like coal, tar, and shale. It would require a closed cycle approach in which carbon is extracted from the ground, processed for its energy content, and returned into safe and stable sinks for permanent disposal. Such sequestration technologies already exist and more advanced approaches that could maintain access to fossil energy for centuries are on the drawing boards. I will review these options and outline a pathway towards a zero emission fossil fuel based economy that could provide energy at prices comparable to those of today for several centuries. A successful implementation will depend not only on technological advances but also on the development of economic institutions that allow one to pay for the required carbon management. If done correctly the markets will decide whether renewable energy, or sustainable fossil energy provides a better choice.

  9. A 25,000-year record of climate-induced changes in lowland vegetation of eastern equatorial Africa revealed by the stable carbon-isotopic composition of fossil plant leaf waxes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sinninghe Damsté, Jaap S.; Verschuren, Dirk; Ossebaar, Jort; Blokker, Jord; van Houten, Rianne; van der Meer, Marcel T. J.; Plessen, Birgit; Schouten, Stefan

    2011-02-01

    The debate of climate versus CO2 in controlling the long-term dynamics of tropical African vegetation has focused on events at the upper tree-line, since the relevant paleodata tend to be from mid-elevation sites (~ 2000-3000 m). Less well known is the relative importance of CO2 in regulating the dynamics of tropical lowland (< 1500 m) vegetation, particularly that of the dry open woodlands, bush- and grasslands covering much of eastern equatorial Africa. Here we examine the stable carbon isotopic composition of n-alkanes in the sediment record of Lake Challa, a lowland crater lake near Mt. Kilimanjaro, covering the last 25,000 years. The distributions of the n-alkanes, with dominance of the long-chain odd-carbon-numbered components, and their isotopic composition reveal a mixed origin. The C23 and C25n-alkanes are depleted in 13C, with δ13C values between - 30 and - 50‰. In shallow lakes these n-alkanes are thought to derive from non-emergent aquatic plants, but this is unlikely in this steep-sided crater lake as it lacks a significant littoral habitat. The C27+n-alkanes are predominantly derived from leaf wax lipids of terrestrial plants, brought into the lake predominantly by local soil run-off. Their δ13C values, in particular that of the n-C31 alkane, reveal a marked transition in local lowland vegetation from being dominated (~ 70-100%) by C4 plants during the glacial period until 16.5 cal kyr BP, to a more mixed C3/C4 composition (~ 30-60% C4) during the Holocene. The start of the late-glacial trend towards a greater proportion of C3 plants coincided with the start of increasing monsoon rainfall, ~ 1500 years after the onset of the rise in atmospheric CO2 and ~ 3500 years after the onset of post-glacial warming. The transition was interrupted during the dry Younger Dryas period (13.0-11.7 cal kyr BP), when C4 plants again became much more prevalent, almost reaching their glacial-period abundance. Notably, the principal trend in leaf-wax δ13C values infers C4 dominance during both wet and dry phases of the glacial period, and a mixed C3/C4 vegetation during both wet and dry phases of the Holocene. Our results indicate that long-term variation in pCO2 exerted important control on the composition of drought-adapted savanna vegetation in this currently semi-arid lowland region of equatorial East Africa.

  10. Reconstructing Carotenoid-Based and Structural Coloration in Fossil Skin.

    PubMed

    McNamara, Maria E; Orr, Patrick J; Kearns, Stuart L; Alcalá, Luis; Anadón, Pere; Peñalver, Enrique

    2016-04-25

    Evidence of original coloration in fossils provides insights into the visual communication strategies used by ancient animals and the functional evolution of coloration over time [1-7]. Hitherto, all reconstructions of the colors of reptile integument and the plumage of fossil birds and feathered dinosaurs have been of melanin-based coloration [1-6]. Extant animals also use other mechanisms for producing color [8], but these have not been identified in fossils. Here we report the first examples of carotenoid-based coloration in the fossil record, and of structural coloration in fossil integument. The fossil skin, from a 10 million-year-old colubrid snake from the Late Miocene Libros Lagerstätte (Teruel, Spain) [9, 10], preserves dermal pigment cells (chromatophores)-xanthophores, iridophores, and melanophores-in calcium phosphate. Comparison with chromatophore abundance and position in extant reptiles [11-15] indicates that the fossil snake was pale-colored in ventral regions; dorsal and lateral regions were green with brown-black and yellow-green transverse blotches. Such coloration most likely functioned in substrate matching and intraspecific signaling. Skin replicated in authigenic minerals is not uncommon in exceptionally preserved fossils [16, 17], and dermal pigment cells generate coloration in numerous reptile, amphibian, and fish taxa today [18]. Our discovery thus represents a new means by which to reconstruct the original coloration of exceptionally preserved fossil vertebrates. PMID:27040775

  11. Instabilities in biofilms: The Kinneyia Fossil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thomas, K. R.; Goehring, L.; Porada, H.; Wittig, R.; Herminghaus, S.

    2012-12-01

    Kinneyia structures are a wrinkle-type fossil pattern most often observed in ancient siliclastic sediment surfaces. Characterised by millimetre-scale ripples with flat-topped crests, these fossils are generally found in areas that were formally littoral habitats. Thin-section observations indicate that Kinneyia formed in surfaces covered by ancient microbial mats. However, to date there has been no conclusive explanation as to the process involved in the formation of these fossils. We propose that the key mechanism involved in the formation of the Kinneyia pattern is a Kelvin-Helmholtz-type instability induced in a viscoelastic film under flowing water. A ripple corrugation is spontaneously induced in the film, which grows in amplitude over time. Such a mechanism is expected to result in a ripple instability with a wavelength proportional to the thickness of the film. Experiments carried out using viscoelastic models microbial mats confirm this prediction, showing a wavelength roughly three times the thickness of the film. The behaviour is independent on the viscoelastic properties of the film. This model corresponds well with the fossil records, which show a reduced wavelength at the boundaries of the fossilised structures where the mat is expected to have been thinner. Fossils were collected from two ancient shallow sea bed sites in Namibia from the terminal Proterozoic period. The fossils are seen to overlay a storm deposit of 15-30cm in thickness. The ripples form on top of this deposit in the veneer, which sedimented after the storm event. Analysis of the shape of the fossilised patterns indicates a similar relationship between the wavelength and amplitude of the ripples to that observed experimentally. A strong directional dependence of the ripples is also observed.

  12. High-pressure whiteschists from the Ti-N-Eggoleh area (Central Hoggar, Algeria): A record of Pan-African oceanic subduction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Adjerid, Zouhir; Godard, Gaston; Ouzegane, Khadidja

    2015-06-01

    The Ti-N-Eggoleh area (Sérouènout Terrane, Central Hoggar, Algeria) comprises mainly a high-pressure Neoproterozoic metamorphic formation consisting of talc-kyanite-quartz whiteschists, chlorite schists, marbles, sulphide ores, partially serpentinized peridotites and partially amphibolitized eclogites, and reminiscent of an ophiolitic mélange that was metamorphosed and strongly deformed under eclogite-facies conditions. Major and trace elements indicate that the whiteschists underwent intense hydrothermal alteration, with Mg enrichment and leaching of alkalis and Ca, prior to high-pressure metamorphism. The main talc-kyanite-quartz paragenesis is stable within a large multivariant P-T field extending from high-P amphibolite to eclogite facies; the Tschermak substitution in talc marginally constrains peak pressure conditions to P > 11 kbar and 600 < T < ~ 800 °C. The subsequent development of cordierite ± sapphirine ± corundum symplectites and coronae at the contact between talc and kyanite was due to isochemical and almost univariant reactions (Tlc + Ky + Qtz → Crd; Tlc + Ky → Crd + Crn; Tlc + Ky → Crd + Spr) which combined together to produce hybrid microstructures. These metamorphic reactions indicate a thermal overprint under granulite-facies conditions (T = 650-860 °C; P < 12 kbar). The peraluminous Mg-rich sapphirine observed in the symplectites reaches one of the highest degrees of Tschermak substitution ever reported for this mineral (with n = 3.6), intermediate between the 13:19:5 (n = 3) and 3:5:1 (n = 4) theoretical compositions. The neighbouring eclogites record a similar P-T evolution: after the eclogite-facies metamorphic peak, they underwent partial amphibolitization and a subsequent high-temperature overprint under granulite-facies conditions that led to partial dehydration. The Ti-N-Eggoleh series is interpreted as the product of the thermal alteration of oceanic rocks that were subducted prior to the continental collision that formed the West Gondwana orogenic belt during the Neoproterozoic Pan-African orogeny. The decompression associated with the early phase of exhumation was followed by an important increase in temperature towards granulite-facies conditions, possibly determined by the intrusion of abundant mafic rocks in this region due to delamination of the lithospheric mantle. The Ti-N-Eggoleh area and its high-pressure meta-ophiolitic series apparently belong to the Sérouènout Terrane, which stretches along the eastern margin of the Western Gondwana orogenic belt and consists mainly of oceanic metasediments; they are possibly markers of an ancient, yet unidentified, subduction and suture zone.

  13. CLANIMAE: Climatic and Anthropogenic Impacts on African Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Verschuren, D.; André, L.; Mahy, G.; Cocquyt, C.; Plisnier, P.-D.; Gelorini, V.; Rumes, B.; Lebrun, J.; Bock, L.; Marchant, R.

    2009-04-01

    Global studies of historical land use focusing on the large-scale landscape change that can potentially affect global climate (via effects on surface albedo, aerosols, and the carbon cycle) have concluded that the impact of pre-colonial East African cultures on regional ecosystems was limited, due to very low mean population density. This contrasts with the paradigm in East African archaeology and paleoecology that the onset of anthropogenic deforestation started at least 2500 years ago, following the introduction of iron metallurgy by Bantu immigrants. This conflict highlights the present lack of real data on historical climate-environment-human interactions in East Africa, which are eminently relevant to sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity conservation in a future of continued population growth and global climate change. CLANIMAE responds to the urgent need of a correct long-term perspective to today's climate-environment-human interactions in East Africa, by reconstructing simultaneously the histories of past climate change and of vegetation and water-quality changes over the last 2500 years, through multi-disciplinary analysis of dated lake-sediment records. The climate reconstructions integrate information on biological, geochemical and sedimentological indicators of past changes in the water balance of the study lakes, which cover the climatological gradient from (sub-)humid western Uganda to semi-arid eastern Kenya. Reconstruction of past terrestrial vegetation dynamics is based on analyses of fossil plant pollen and phytoliths, plus the fossil spores of fungi associated with the excrements of large domestic animals as indicators of lake use by pastoralists. The evolution of water quality through time is reconstructed using silicon isotopes in diatom algae as proxy indicator for past phytoplankton productivity, and paleoecological analyses of fossil diatoms and aquatic macrophytes, following calibration of diatom and macrophyte species distribution against lake trophic status and turbidity in the modern-day regional lake gradient. The integrated paleoecological research method of this project addresses the question of past climate-environment-human relationships at the time scale at which the relevant processes have actually occurred. This will allow us to 1) separate the influences of natural climate variability and human activity on East African ecosystems, 2) determine the exact timing and relative magnitude of indigenous (pre-20th century) anthropogenic land clearance compared to recent landscape alteration, 3) determine the severity of lake water-quality losses due to siltation and excess nutrient input directly linked to deforestation and agriculture, compared to those associated with natural ecosystem variability, and 4) assess the resilience of African ecosystems, and prospects for the restoration of disturbed ecosystems if human pressure were to be reversed.

  14. Exceptional fossil preservation and the cambrian explosion.

    PubMed

    Butterfield, Nicholas J

    2003-02-01

    Exceptionally preserved, non-biomineralizing fossils contribute importantly to resolving details of the Cambrian explosion, but little to its overall patterns. Six distinct "types" of exceptional preservation are identified for the terminal Proterozoic-Cambrian interval, each of which is dependent on particular taphonomic circumstances, typically restricted both in space and time. Taphonomic pathways yielding exceptional preservation were particularly variable through the Proterozoic-Cambrian transition, at least in part a consequence of contemporaneous evolutionary innovations. Combined with the reasonably continuous record of "Doushantuo-type preservation," and the fundamentally more robust records of shelly fossils, phytoplankton cysts and trace fossils, these taphonomic perturbations contribute to the documentation of major evolutionary and biogeochemical shifts through the terminal Proterozoic and early Cambrian.Appreciation of the relationship between taphonomic pathway and fossil expression serves as a useful tool for interpreting exceptionally preserved, often problematic, early Cambrian fossils. In shale facies, for example, flattened non-biomineralizing structures typically represent the remains of degradation-resistant acellular and extracellular "tissues" such as chaetae and cuticles, whereas three-dimensional preservation represents labile cellular tissues with a propensity for attracting and precipitating early diagenetic minerals. Such distinction helps to identify the acuticular integument of hyolithids, the chaetae-like nature of Wiwaxia sclerites, the chaetognath-like integument of Amiskwia, the midgut glands of various Burgess Shale arthropods, and the misidentification of deposit-feeding arthropods in the Chengjiang biota. By the same reasoning, putative lobopods in the Sirius Passet biota and putative deuterostomes in the Chengiang biota are better interpreted as arthropods. PMID:21680421

  15. Fossilization Processes in Thermal Springs

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Farmer, Jack D.; Cady, Sherry; Desmarais, David J.; Chang, Sherwood (Technical Monitor)

    1995-01-01

    To create a comparative framework for the study of ancient examples, we have been carrying out parallel studies of the microbial biosedimentology, taphonomy and geochemistry of modem and sub-Recent thermal spring deposits. One goal of the research is the development of integrated litho- and taphofacies models for siliceous and travertline sinters. Thermal springs are regarded as important environments for the origin and early evolution of life on Earth, and we seek to utilize information from the fossil record to reconstruct the evolution of high temperature ecosystems. Microbial contributions to the fabric of thermal spring sinters occur when population growth rates keep pace with, or exceed rates of inorganic precipitation, allowing for the development of continuous biofilms or mats. In siliceous thermal springs, microorganisms are typically entombed while viable. Modes of preservation reflect the balance between rates of organic matter degradation, silica precipitation and secondary infilling. Subaerial sinters are initially quite porous and permeable and at temperatures higher than about 20 C, organic materials are usually degraded prior to secondary infilling of sinter frameworks. Thus, organically-preserved microfossils are rare and fossil information consists of characteristic biofabrics formed by the encrustation and underplating of microbial mat surfaces. This probably accounts for the typically low total organic carbon values observed in thermal spring deposits. In mid-temperature, (approx. 35 - 59 C) ponds and outflows, the surface morphology of tufted Phormidium mats is preserved through mat underplating by thin siliceous: crusts. Microbial taxes lead to clumping of ceils and/or preferred filament orientations that together define higher order composite fabrics in thermal spring stromatolites (e.g. network, coniform, and palisade). At lower temperatures (less than 35 C), Calothrix mats cover shallow terracette pools forming flat carpets or pustular surfaces that produce palisade and "shrub" fabrics, respectively. At finer scales, composite fabrics are seen to consist distinctive associations of microstructures formed by the encrustation of individual cells and filaments. Composite fabrics survive the diagenetic transitions from primary opaline silica to quartz and are known from subaerial thermal spring deposits as old as Lower Carboniferous. However, fossil microorganisms tend to be rare in older deposits, and are usually preserved only where cells or sheaths have been stained by iron oxides. In subaqueous mineralizing springs at lower temperatures, early infilling leads to a more rapid and complete reduction in porosity and permeability. This process, along with the slower rates of microbial degradation at lower temperatures, creates a more favorable situation for organic matter preservation. Application of this taphonomic model to the Rhynie Chert, previously interpreted as subaerial, suggest it was probably deposited in a subaqueous spring setting at lower temperatures.

  16. Fossil diatoms and neogene paleolimnology

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Platt, Bradbury J.

    1988-01-01

    Diatoms have played an important role in the development of Neogene continental biostratigraphy and paleolimnology since the mid-19th Century. The history of progress in Quaternary diatom biostratigraphy has developed as a result of improved coring techniques that enable sampling sediments beneath existing lakes coupled with improved chronological control (including radiometric dating and varve enumeration), improved statistical treatment of fossil diatom assemblages (from qualitative description to influx calculations of diatom numbers or volumes), and improved ecological information about analogous living diatom associations. The last factor, diatom ecology, is the most critical in many ways, but progresses slowly. Fortunately, statistical comparison of modern diatom assemblages and insightful studies of the nutrient requirements of some common freshwater species are enabling diatom paleolimnologists to make more detailed interpretations of the Quaternary record than had been possible earlier, and progress in the field of diatom biology and ecology will continue to refine paleolimnological studies. The greater age and geologic setting of Tertiary diatomaceous deposits has prompted their study in the contexts of geologic history, biochronology and evolution. The distribution of diatoms of marine affinities in continental deposits has given geologists insights about tectonism and sea-level change, and the distribution of distinctive (extinct?) diatoms has found utilization both in making stratigraphic correlations between outcrops of diatomaceous deposits and in various types of biochronological studies that involve dating deposits in different areas. A continental diatom biochronologic scheme will rely upon evolution, such as the appearance of new genera within a family, in combination with regional environmental changes that are responsible for the wide distribution of distinctive diatom species. The increased use of the scanning electron microscope for the detailed descriptions of fossil diatoms will provide the basis for making more accurate correlations and identifications, and the micromorphological detail for speculations about evolutionary relationships. ?? 1988.

  17. Cycles in fossil diversity

    SciTech Connect

    Rohde, Robert A.; Muller, Richard A.

    2004-10-20

    It is well-known that the diversity of life appears to fluctuate during the course the Phanerozoic, the eon during which hard shells and skeletons left abundant fossils (0-542 Ma). Using Sepkoski's compendium of the first and last stratigraphic appearances of 36380 marine genera, we report a strong 62 {+-} 3 Myr cycle, which is particularly strong in the shorter-lived genera. The five great extinctions enumerated by Raup and Sepkoski may be an aspect of this cycle. Because of the high statistical significance, we also consider contributing environmental factors and possible causes.

  18. Organic preservation of fossil musculature with ultracellular detail

    PubMed Central

    McNamara, Maria; Orr, Patrick J.; Kearns, Stuart L.; Alcalá, Luis; Anadón, Pere; Peñalver-Mollá, Enrique

    2010-01-01

    The very labile (decay-prone), non-biomineralized, tissues of organisms are rarely fossilized. Occurrences thereof are invaluable supplements to a body fossil record dominated by biomineralized tissues, which alone are extremely unrepresentative of diversity in modern and ancient ecosystems. Fossil examples of extremely labile tissues (e.g. muscle) that exhibit a high degree of morphological fidelity are almost invariably replicated by inorganic compounds such as calcium phosphate. There is no consensus as to whether such tissues can be preserved with similar morphological fidelity as organic remains, except when enclosed inside amber. Here, we report fossilized musculature from an approximately 18 Myr old salamander from lacustrine sediments of Ribesalbes, Spain. The muscle is preserved organically, in three dimensions, and with the highest fidelity of morphological preservation yet documented from the fossil record. Preserved ultrastructural details include myofilaments, endomysium, layering within the sarcolemma, and endomysial circulatory vessels infilled with blood. Slight differences between the fossil tissues and their counterparts in extant amphibians reflect limited degradation during fossilization. Our results provide unequivocal evidence that high-fidelity organic preservation of extremely labile tissues is not only feasible, but likely to be common. This is supported by the discovery of similarly preserved tissues in the Eocene Grube Messel biota. PMID:19828545

  19. Morphology, fossils, divergence timing, and the phylogenetic relationships of Gavialis.

    PubMed

    Brochu, C A

    1997-09-01

    Although morphological data have historically favored a basal position for the Indian gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) within Crocodylia and a Mesozoic divergence between Gavialis and all other crocodylians, several recent molecular data sets have argued for a sister-group relationship between Gavialis and the Indonesian false gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) and a divergence between them no earlier than the Late Tertiary. Fossils were added to a matrix of 164 discrete morphological characters and subjected to parsimony analysis. When morphology was analyzed alone, Gavialis was the sister taxon of all other extant crocodylians whether or not fossil ingroup taxa were included, and a sister-group relationship between Gavialis and Tomistoma was significantly less parsimonious. In combination with published sequence and restriction site fragment data, Gavialis was the sister taxon of all other living crocodylians, but the position of Tomistoma depended on the inclusion of fossil ingroup taxa; with or without fossils, preferred morphological and molecular topologies were not significantly different. Fossils closer to Gavialis than to Tomistoma can be recognized in the Late Cretaceous, and fossil relatives of Tomistoma are known from the basal Eocene, strongly indicating a divergence long before the Late Tertiary. Comparison of minimum divergence time from the fossil record with different measures of molecular distance indicates evolutionary rate heterogeneity within Crocodylia. Fossils strongly contradict a post-Oligocene divergence between Gavialis and any other living crocodylian, but the phylogenetic placement of Gavialis is best viewed as unresolved. PMID:11975331

  20. Fossil Microorganisms in Archaean

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Astafleva, Marina; Hoover, Richard; Rozanov, Alexei; Vrevskiy, A.

    2006-01-01

    Ancient Archean and Proterozoic rocks are the model objects for investigation of rocks comprising astromaterials. The first of Archean fossil microorganisms from Baltic shield have been reported at the last SPIE Conference in 2005. Since this confeence biomorphic structures have been revealed in Archean rocks of Karelia. It was determined that there are 3 types of such bion structures: 1. structures found in situ, in other words microorganisms even-aged with rock matrix, that is real Archean fossils biomorphic structures, that is to say forms inhabited early formed rocks, and 3. younger than Archean-Protherozoic minerali microorganisms, that is later contamination. We made attempt to differentiate these 3 types of findings and tried to understand of burial of microorganisms. The structures belongs (from our point of view) to the first type, or real Archean, forms were under examination. Practical investigation of ancient microorganisms from Green-Stone-Belt of Northern Karelia turns to be very perspective. It shows that even in such ancient time as Archean ancient diverse world existed. Moreover probably such relatively highly organized cyanobacteria and perhaps eukaryotic formes existed in Archean world.

  1. The Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project: inferring the environmental context of human evolution from eastern African rift lake deposits

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cohen, A.; Campisano, C.; Arrowsmith, R.; Asrat, A.; Behrensmeyer, A. K.; Deino, A.; Feibel, C.; Hill, A.; Johnson, R.; Kingston, J.; Lamb, H.; Lowenstein, T.; Noren, A.; Olago, D.; Owen, R. B.; Potts, R.; Reed, K.; Renaut, R.; Schäbitz, F.; Tiercelin, J.-J.; Trauth, M. H.; Wynn, J.; Ivory, S.; Brady, K.; O'Grady, R.; Rodysill, J.; Githiri, J.; Russell, J.; Foerster, V.; Dommain, R.; Rucina, S.; Deocampo, D.; Russell, J.; Billingsley, A.; Beck, C.; Dorenbeck, G.; Dullo, L.; Feary, D.; Garello, D.; Gromig, R.; Johnson, T.; Junginger, A.; Karanja, M.; Kimburi, E.; Mbuthia, A.; McCartney, T.; McNulty, E.; Muiruri, V.; Nambiro, E.; Negash, E. W.; Njagi, D.; Wilson, J. N.; Rabideaux, N.; Raub, T.; Sier, M. J.; Smith, P.; Urban, J.; Warren, M.; Yadeta, M.; Yost, C.; Zinaye, B.

    2016-02-01

    The role that climate and environmental history may have played in influencing human evolution has been the focus of considerable interest and controversy among paleoanthropologists for decades. Prior attempts to understand the environmental history side of this equation have centered around the study of outcrop sediments and fossils adjacent to where fossil hominins (ancestors or close relatives of modern humans) are found, or from the study of deep sea drill cores. However, outcrop sediments are often highly weathered and thus are unsuitable for some types of paleoclimatic records, and deep sea core records come from long distances away from the actual fossil and stone tool remains. The Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP) was developed to address these issues. The project has focused its efforts on the eastern African Rift Valley, where much of the evidence for early hominins has been recovered. We have collected about 2 km of sediment drill core from six basins in Kenya and Ethiopia, in lake deposits immediately adjacent to important fossil hominin and archaeological sites. Collectively these cores cover in time many of the key transitions and critical intervals in human evolutionary history over the last 4 Ma, such as the earliest stone tools, the origin of our own genus Homo, and the earliest anatomically modern Homo sapiens. Here we document the initial field, physical property, and core description results of the 2012-2014 HSPDP coring campaign.

  2. Pliocene northeast African vegetation change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liddy, H.; Sieracki, A.; Feakins, S. J.

    2012-12-01

    Plant leaf wax molecular fossils have yielded key insights into forest-grassland transitions in northeast Africa. The stable carbon isotopic composition (δ13C) of sedimentary leaf waxes (including n-alkanoic acids) records variations in the proportions of plants using the C3 (Calvin-Benson) pathway including trees, most shrubs and cool-season grasses versus the C4 (Hatch-Slack) pathway including warm-season grasses and sedges. Here we apply this technique to marine sediments from the Gulf of Aden to characterize northeast African environmental variability during the Pliocene. We sample DSDP Site 231 integrating 3kyr intervals to generate a high-resolution reconstruction spanning 3.7-5.3Ma. The δ13C compositions of downcore C30 n-alkanoic acid analyses average -27.5‰ (σ=1.2, n=177), ranging between -30.2 to -24.3‰ with repeated oscillations in the proportions of C4 biomass, presumably corresponding to the eccentricity and precessional modulation of insolation acting on monsoonal precipitation. Although δ13C values cannot be uniquely translated to C4 biomass given the spread in the C3 'endmember', we find complimentary evidence for proportions of C4 biomass from the isotopic spread of the n-alkanoic homologues (n-C28 to n-C32). Comparison to pollen data indicates that at times of low δ13C values, complete forest cover remains unlikely given the presence of grass pollen - taken together these records indicate the presence of C3 grasses. By evaluating our longer record from this site, as well as the terrestrial soil carbonate record, we find the Pliocene has low C4 proportions in comparison to higher proportions in Pleistocene and even late Miocene times. Intriguingly this drop in C4 plant biomass may correspond to a period of elevated atmospheric pCO2. Our ongoing reconstructions are of interest both for constraining environments of hominin evolution and tropical climate variability prior to the onset of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation, in particular during this Pliocene time period of interest as a 'modest greenhouse' world.

  3. Fossilized spermatozoa preserved in a 50-Myr-old annelid cocoon from Antarctica.

    PubMed

    Bomfleur, Benjamin; Mörs, Thomas; Ferraguti, Marco; Reguero, Marcelo A; McLoughlin, Stephen

    2015-07-01

    The origin and evolution of clitellate annelids--earthworms, leeches and their relatives--is poorly understood, partly because body fossils of these delicate organisms are exceedingly rare. The distinctive egg cases (cocoons) of Clitellata, however, are relatively common in the fossil record, although their potential for phylogenetic studies has remained largely unexplored. Here, we report the remarkable discovery of fossilized spermatozoa preserved within the secreted wall layers of a 50-Myr-old clitellate cocoon from Antarctica, representing the oldest fossil animal sperm yet known. Sperm characters are highly informative for the classification of extant Annelida. The Antarctic fossil spermatozoa have several features that point to affinities with the peculiar, leech-like 'crayfish worms' (Branchiobdellida). We anticipate that systematic surveys of cocoon fossils coupled with advances in non-destructive analytical methods may open a new window into the evolution of minute, soft-bodied life forms that are otherwise only rarely observed in the fossil record. PMID:26179804

  4. Fossilized spermatozoa preserved in a 50-Myr-old annelid cocoon from Antarctica

    PubMed Central

    Bomfleur, Benjamin; Mörs, Thomas; Ferraguti, Marco; Reguero, Marcelo A.; McLoughlin, Stephen

    2015-01-01

    The origin and evolution of clitellate annelids—earthworms, leeches and their relatives—is poorly understood, partly because body fossils of these delicate organisms are exceedingly rare. The distinctive egg cases (cocoons) of Clitellata, however, are relatively common in the fossil record, although their potential for phylogenetic studies has remained largely unexplored. Here, we report the remarkable discovery of fossilized spermatozoa preserved within the secreted wall layers of a 50-Myr-old clitellate cocoon from Antarctica, representing the oldest fossil animal sperm yet known. Sperm characters are highly informative for the classification of extant Annelida. The Antarctic fossil spermatozoa have several features that point to affinities with the peculiar, leech-like ‘crayfish worms' (Branchiobdellida). We anticipate that systematic surveys of cocoon fossils coupled with advances in non-destructive analytical methods may open a new window into the evolution of minute, soft-bodied life forms that are otherwise only rarely observed in the fossil record. PMID:26179804

  5. International Decade of East African Lakes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, Thomas C.

    A workshop funded by the National Science Foundation's Climate Dynamics Program and Switzerland's National Climate Program convened in Bern, Switzerland on March 29-31 to discuss the establishment of a multinational, multidisciplinary study of the East African rift lakes. The 10-year project, entitled the International Decade of the East African Lakes (IDEAL), has two primary goals. The first is to obtain long, high-resolution records of climatic change in tropical East Africa. The second is to provide a comprehensive training program for African students and scientists and to strengthen African institutions' capabilities in the aquatic sciences, resulting in collaboration between African and northern hemisphere limnologists and paleoclimatologists.

  6. Arthropod colonization of land--linking molecules and fossils in oribatid mites (Acari, Oribatida).

    PubMed

    Schaefer, Ina; Norton, Roy A; Scheu, Stefan; Maraun, Mark

    2010-10-01

    Terrestrial fossils that document the early colonization of land are scarce for >100 my after the Cambrian explosion. This raises the question whether life on land did not exist or just did not fossilize. With a molecular dating technique, we analyzed the origin of terrestrial chelicerate microarthropods (Acari, Oribatida) which have a fossil record since the Middle Devonian that is exceptional among soil animals. Our results suggest that oribatid mites originated in the Precambrian (571+/-37 mya) and that the radiation of basal groups coincides with the gap in the terrestrial fossil record between the Cambrian explosion and the earliest fossilized records of continental ecosystems. Further, they suggest that the colonization of land started via the interstitial, approximately 150 my earlier than the oldest fossils of terrestrial ecosystems. Overall, the results imply that omnivorous and detritivorous arthropods formed a major component in early terrestrial food webs, thereby facilitating the invasion of terrestrial habitats by later colonizers of higher trophic levels. PMID:20420932

  7. Radioactivity in fossils at the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.

    PubMed

    Farmer, C Neal; Kathren, Ronald L; Christensen, Craig

    2008-08-01

    Since 1996, higher than background levels of naturally occurring radioactivity have been documented in both fossil and mineral deposits at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in south-central Idaho. Radioactive fossil sites occur primarily within an elevation zone of 900-1000 m above sea level and are most commonly found associated with ancient river channels filled with sand. Fossils found in clay rich deposits do not exhibit discernable levels of radioactivity. Out of 300 randomly selected fossils, approximately three-fourths exhibit detectable levels of natural radioactivity ranging from 1 to 2 orders of magnitude above ambient background levels when surveyed with a portable hand held Geiger-Muller survey instrument. Mineral deposits in geologic strata also show above ambient background levels of radioactivity. Radiochemical lab analysis has documented the presence of numerous natural radioactive isotopes. It is postulated that ancient groundwater transported radioactive elements through sand bodies containing fossils which precipitated out of solution during the fossilization process. The elevated levels of natural radioactivity in fossils may require special precautions to ensure that exposures to personnel from stored or displayed items are kept as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). PMID:18442873

  8. Further records of Amphipoda from Baltic Eocene amber with first evidence of prae-copulatory behaviour in a fossil amphipod and remarks on the taxonomic position of Palaeogammarus Zaddach, 1864.

    PubMed

    Jażdżewski, Krzysztof; Grabowski, Michał; Kupryjanowicz, Janusz

    2014-01-01

    Two pieces of Baltic amber with amphipod inclusions were studied. One of them contained approximately twenty individuals identified as belonging to the extinct genus Palaeogammarus and described as P. debroyeri sp. nov. Interestingly, among the individuals there are two pairs preserved in an evident prae-copula position. This is the first finding of such mating behaviour in fossil amphipods. Based on this behavioural trait and on the observed morphological features, we conclude that the genus Palaeogammarus should be placed in Gammaridae and not in Crangonyctidae. The second amber piece contains two individuals identified as belonging to the still extant genus Synurella and described as S. aliciae sp. nov.  PMID:24870911

  9. Triassic leech cocoon from Antarctica contains fossil bell animal

    PubMed Central

    Bomfleur, Benjamin; Kerp, Hans; Taylor, Thomas N.; Moestrup, Øjvind; Taylor, Edith L.

    2012-01-01

    Our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth is limited by the imperfection of the fossil record. One reason for this imperfect record is that organisms without hard parts, such as bones, shells, and wood, have a very low potential to enter the fossil record. Occasionally, however, exceptional fossil deposits that preserve soft-bodied organisms provide a rare glimpse of the true biodiversity during past periods of Earth history. We here present an extraordinary find of a fossil ciliate that is encased inside the wall layer of a more than 200 Ma leech cocoon from Antarctica. The microfossil consists of a helically contractile stalk that attaches to a main body with a peristomial feeding apparatus and a large C-shaped macronucleus. It agrees in every aspect with the living bell animals, such as Vorticella. Vorticellids and similar peritrichs are vital constituents of aquatic ecosystems worldwide, but so far have lacked any fossil record. This discovery offers a glimpse of ancient soft-bodied protozoan biotas, and also highlights the potential of clitellate cocoons as microscopic “conservation traps” comparable to amber. PMID:23213234

  10. Fossil fuel furnace reactor

    DOEpatents

    Parkinson, William J.

    1987-01-01

    A fossil fuel furnace reactor is provided for simulating a continuous processing plant with a batch reactor. An internal reaction vessel contains a batch of shale oil, with the vessel having a relatively thin wall thickness for a heat transfer rate effective to simulate a process temperature history in the selected continuous processing plant. A heater jacket is disposed about the reactor vessel and defines a number of independent controllable temperature zones axially spaced along the reaction vessel. Each temperature zone can be energized to simulate a time-temperature history of process material through the continuous plant. A pressure vessel contains both the heater jacket and the reaction vessel at an operating pressure functionally selected to simulate the continuous processing plant. The process yield from the oil shale may be used as feedback information to software simulating operation of the continuous plant to provide operating parameters, i.e., temperature profiles, ambient atmosphere, operating pressure, material feed rates, etc., for simulation in the batch reactor.

  11. Exploring macroevolution using modern and fossil data.

    PubMed

    Benton, Michael J

    2015-07-01

    Macroevolution, encompassing the deep-time patterns of the origins of modern biodiversity, has been discussed in many contexts. Non-Darwinian models such as macromutations have been proposed as a means of bridging seemingly large gaps in knowledge, or as a means to explain the origin of exquisitely adapted body plans. However, such gaps can be spanned by new fossil finds, and complex, integrated organisms can be shown to have evolved piecemeal. For example, the fossil record between dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx has now filled up with astonishing fossil intermediates that show how the unique plexus of avian adaptations emerged step by step over 60 Myr. New numerical approaches to morphometrics and phylogenetic comparative methods allow palaeontologists and biologists to work together on deep-time questions of evolution, to explore how diversity, morphology and function have changed through time. Patterns are more complex than sometimes expected, with frequent decoupling of species diversity and morphological diversity, pointing to the need for some new generalizations about the processes that lie behind such patterns. PMID:26063844

  12. Exploring macroevolution using modern and fossil data

    PubMed Central

    Benton, Michael J.

    2015-01-01

    Macroevolution, encompassing the deep-time patterns of the origins of modern biodiversity, has been discussed in many contexts. Non-Darwinian models such as macromutations have been proposed as a means of bridging seemingly large gaps in knowledge, or as a means to explain the origin of exquisitely adapted body plans. However, such gaps can be spanned by new fossil finds, and complex, integrated organisms can be shown to have evolved piecemeal. For example, the fossil record between dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx has now filled up with astonishing fossil intermediates that show how the unique plexus of avian adaptations emerged step by step over 60 Myr. New numerical approaches to morphometrics and phylogenetic comparative methods allow palaeontologists and biologists to work together on deep-time questions of evolution, to explore how diversity, morphology and function have changed through time. Patterns are more complex than sometimes expected, with frequent decoupling of species diversity and morphological diversity, pointing to the need for some new generalizations about the processes that lie behind such patterns. PMID:26063844

  13. FOSSIL2 energy policy model documentation: FOSSIL2 documentation

    SciTech Connect

    1980-10-01

    This report discusses the structure, derivations, assumptions, and mathematical formulation of the FOSSIL2 model. Each major facet of the model - supply/demand interactions, industry financing, and production - has been designed to parallel closely the actual cause/effect relationships determining the behavior of the United States energy system. The data base for the FOSSIL2 program is large, as is appropriate for a system dynamics simulation model. When possible, all data were obtained from sources well known to experts in the energy field. Cost and resource estimates are based on DOE data whenever possible. This report presents the FOSSIL2 model at several levels. Volumes II and III of this report list the equations that comprise the FOSSIL2 model, along with variable definitions and a cross-reference list of the model variables. Volume III lists the model equations and a one line definition for equations, in a short, readable format.

  14. Fossilized bioelectric wire – the trace fossil Trichichnus

    PubMed Central

    Kędzierski, M.; Uchman, A.; Sawlowicz, Z.; Briguglio, A.

    2015-01-01

    The trace fossil Trichichnus is proposed as an indicator of fossil bioelectric bacterial activity at the oxic–anoxic interface zone of marine sediments. This fulfils the idea that such processes, commonly found in the modern realm, should be also present in the geological past. Trichichnus is an exceptional trace fossil due to its very thin diameter (mostly less than 1 mm) and common pyritic filling. It is ubiquitous in some fine-grained sediments, where it has been interpreted as a burrow formed deeper than any other trace fossils, below the redox boundary. Trichichnus, formerly referred to as deeply burrowed invertebrates, has been found as remnant of a fossilized intrasediment bacterial mat that is pyritized. As visualized in 3-D by means of X-ray computed microtomography scanner, Trichichnus forms dense filamentous fabric, which reflects that it is produced by modern large, mat-forming, sulfide-oxidizing bacteria, belonging mostly to Thioploca-related taxa, which are able to house a complex bacterial consortium. Several stages of Trichichnus formation, including filamentous, bacterial mat and its pyritization, are proposed to explain an electron exchange between oxic and suboxic/anoxic layers in the sediment. Therefore, Trichichnus can be considered a fossilized “electric wire”. PMID:26290671

  15. A reanalysis of the South African australopithecine natural endocasts.

    PubMed

    Falk, D

    1980-11-01

    Sulcal patterns of six previously available South African australopithecine natural endocasts are reexamined and compared to sulcal patterns of 17 human, 12 gorilla and six chimpanzee brains. In addition, a seventh natural endocast, from STS 58, is described for the first time and compared to an artificial endocast from the same specimen. Using the Taung endocast as a focal point, it is shown that sulcal patterns reproduced on natural endocasts of australopithecines appear to be pongid-like rather than human-like. Contrary to earlier descriptions, the lunate sulcus occupies a rostral position similar to that found in pongids. Since South African australopithecine brains do not appear to be reorganized along human lines at a gross external neuroanatomical level, the concept of neurological reorganization is best applied at finer neurological levels, perhaps at the level of the neuron or at a neurochemical level. Thus, future studies by comparative neuroscientists are more likely to elucidate the fine details of neurological reorganization that occurred during early human evolution than are studies by paleontologists who directly observe the australopithecine fossil record of natural endocasts. PMID:7468789

  16. Phenotypic Evolution in Fossil Species: Pattern and Process

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hunt, Gene; Rabosky, Daniel L.

    2014-05-01

    Since Darwin, scientists have looked to the fossil record with the hope of using it to document how the phenotypes of species change over substantial periods of time. How best to interpret this record has been controversial, but empirical and methodological advances have resolved at least two issues about pattern: (a) directional transformations are seldom sustained over geological timescales, and (b) net rates of morphological change in fossil species are usually quite slow. Considerable uncertainty remains, however, about the processes responsible for these patterns, but most fruitful explanations use the framework of adaptive landscapes to consider the role of natural selection and other processes. An additional, unresolved issue is the claim that most phenotypic change is associated with speciation. A variety of methods, using data from both fossil and extant species, have supported such a link, at least in some clades and traits, but its prevalence and underlying mechanism remain unresolved.

  17. Reviving the African wolf Canis lupus lupaster in North and West Africa: a mitochondrial lineage ranging more than 6,000 km wide.

    PubMed

    Gaubert, Philippe; Bloch, Cécile; Benyacoub, Slim; Abdelhamid, Adnan; Pagani, Paolo; Djagoun, Chabi Adéyèmi Marc Sylvestre; Couloux, Arnaud; Dufour, Sylvain

    2012-01-01

    The recent discovery of a lineage of gray wolf in North-East Africa suggests the presence of a cryptic canid on the continent, the African wolf Canis lupus lupaster. We analyzed the mtDNA diversity (cytochrome b and control region) of a series of African Canis including wolf-like animals from North and West Africa. Our objectives were to assess the actual range of C. l. lupaster, to further estimate the genetic characteristics and demographic history of its lineage, and to question its taxonomic delineation from the golden jackal C. aureus, with which it has been considered synonymous. We confirmed the existence of four distinct lineages within the gray wolf, including C. lupus/familiaris (Holarctic wolves and dogs), C. l. pallipes, C. l. chanco and C. l. lupaster. Taxonomic assignment procedures identified wolf-like individuals from Algeria, Mali and Senegal, as belonging to C. l. lupaster, expanding its known distribution c. 6,000 km to the west. We estimated that the African wolf lineage (i) had the highest level of genetic diversity within C. lupus, (ii) coalesced during the Late Pleistocene, contemporaneously with Holarctic wolves and dogs, and (iii) had an effective population size of c. 80,000 females. Our results suggest that the African wolf is a relatively ancient gray wolf lineage with a fairly large, past effective population size, as also suggested by the Pleistocene fossil record. Unique field observations in Senegal allowed us to provide a morphological and behavioral diagnosis of the African wolf that clearly distinguished it from the sympatric golden jackal. However, the detection of C. l. lupaster mtDNA haplotypes in C. aureus from Senegal brings the delineation between the African wolf and the golden jackal into question. In terms of conservation, it appears urgent to further characterize the status of the African wolf with regard to the African golden jackal. PMID:22900047

  18. Reviving the African Wolf Canis lupus lupaster in North and West Africa: A Mitochondrial Lineage Ranging More than 6,000 km Wide

    PubMed Central

    Gaubert, Philippe; Bloch, Cécile; Benyacoub, Slim; Abdelhamid, Adnan; Pagani, Paolo; Djagoun, Chabi Adéyèmi Marc Sylvestre; Couloux, Arnaud; Dufour, Sylvain

    2012-01-01

    The recent discovery of a lineage of gray wolf in North-East Africa suggests the presence of a cryptic canid on the continent, the African wolf Canis lupus lupaster. We analyzed the mtDNA diversity (cytochrome b and control region) of a series of African Canis including wolf-like animals from North and West Africa. Our objectives were to assess the actual range of C. l. lupaster, to further estimate the genetic characteristics and demographic history of its lineage, and to question its taxonomic delineation from the golden jackal C. aureus, with which it has been considered synonymous. We confirmed the existence of four distinct lineages within the gray wolf, including C. lupus/familiaris (Holarctic wolves and dogs), C. l. pallipes, C. l. chanco and C. l. lupaster. Taxonomic assignment procedures identified wolf-like individuals from Algeria, Mali and Senegal, as belonging to C. l. lupaster, expanding its known distribution c. 6,000 km to the west. We estimated that the African wolf lineage (i) had the highest level of genetic diversity within C. lupus, (ii) coalesced during the Late Pleistocene, contemporaneously with Holarctic wolves and dogs, and (iii) had an effective population size of c. 80,000 females. Our results suggest that the African wolf is a relatively ancient gray wolf lineage with a fairly large, past effective population size, as also suggested by the Pleistocene fossil record. Unique field observations in Senegal allowed us to provide a morphological and behavioral diagnosis of the African wolf that clearly distinguished it from the sympatric golden jackal. However, the detection of C. l. lupaster mtDNA haplotypes in C. aureus from Senegal brings the delineation between the African wolf and the golden jackal into question. In terms of conservation, it appears urgent to further characterize the status of the African wolf with regard to the African golden jackal. PMID:22900047

  19. Dating Fossil Pollen: A Simulation.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Sheridan, Philip

    1992-01-01

    Describes a hands-on simulation in which students determine the age of "fossil" pollen samples based on the pollen types present when examined microscopically. Provides instructions for the preparation of pollen slides. (MDH)

  20. The Tachakoucht-Iriri-Tourtit arc complex (Moroccan Anti-Atlas): Neoproterozoic records of polyphased subduction-accretion dynamics during the Pan-African orogeny

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Triantafyllou, Antoine; Berger, Julien; Baele, Jean-Marc; Diot, Hervé; Ennih, Nasser; Plissart, Gaëlle; Monnier, Christophe; Watlet, Arnaud; Bruguier, Olivier; Spagna, Paul; Vandycke, Sara

    2016-05-01

    We report new mapping, tectonic, metamorphic and U-Pb zircon dating data on the polyphased Tachakoucht-Iriri and Tourtit arc-related units within the Moroccan Pan-African belt (Sirwa window, Anti-Atlas). The studied area contains four different sub-units, from south to north: (1) the Tachakoucht gneisses intruded to its northern part by (2) Iriri intrusions. To the north, the Tachakoucht-Iriri massif is thrusted by (3) the south-verging 760 Ma Khzama ophiolitic sequence intruded by (4) the Tourtit meta-granitic complex. The Tachakoucht gneiss represents former andesitic to dacitic porphyritic rocks crystallized around 740-720 Ma in an intra-oceanic arc setting (IOAS). Subsequently, it has been buried and metamorphosed to 700 °C, 8 kbar in response to early accretion of the arc onto the West African Craton (WAC). This tectono-metamorphic event also led to the dismembering and stacking of back-arc ophiolite onto the arc unit. Subsequently, the Iriri intrusions, a suite of hydrous mafic dykes (hornblende gabbro and fine-grained basalt) and ultramafic (hornblendite) plutons showing subduction zone affinities, intruded the Tachakoucht gneiss under P-T conditions of 750-800 °C and 2-5 kbar. Emplacement of Iriri intrusions led locally to pronounced partial melting of the Tachakoucht gneiss and to the production of leucogranitic melts. These melts crop out into the Iriri-Tachakoucht gneiss contacts as leucogneissic bands (former leucosomes, dated at 651 ± 5 Ma) but also intruded the Khzama ophiolite to form the Tourtit granite (dated at 651 ± 3 Ma). These ages (651-641 Ma) also constrain the timing of Iriri intrusion emplacement. The entire complex has been overprinted by a second deformation event under greenschist to amphibolite facies conditions marked by transposition of primary structures and a development of mylonitic shear zones. These results and those published on the Bou Azzer window show that two phases of subduction-related magmatism occurred in the Anti-Atlas belt and that they were separated by an early accretion of the intra-oceanic arc system (IOAS) onto the West African craton passive margin. Our interpretations also validate thermo-mechanical models predicting an intense perturbation of subduction dynamics during arc-continent collision (i.e. composite subductions, polarity reversal) which can expand the production of typical hydrous arc magma and induces a late magmatic phase after partial or total accretion of the IOAS.

  1. The legacy of fossil fuels.

    PubMed

    Armaroli, Nicola; Balzani, Vincenzo

    2011-03-01

    Currently, over 80% of the energy used by mankind comes from fossil fuels. Harnessing coal, oil and gas, the energy resources contained in the store of our spaceship, Earth, has prompted a dramatic expansion in energy use and a substantial improvement in the quality of life of billions of individuals in some regions of the world. Powering our civilization with fossil fuels has been very convenient, but now we know that it entails severe consequences. We treat fossil fuels as a resource that anyone anywhere can extract and use in any fashion, and Earth's atmosphere, soil and oceans as a dump for their waste products, including more than 30 Gt/y of carbon dioxide. At present, environmental legacy rather than consistence of exploitable reserves, is the most dramatic problem posed by the relentless increase of fossil fuel global demand. Harmful effects on the environment and human health, usually not incorporated into the pricing of fossil fuels, include immediate and short-term impacts related to their discovery, extraction, transportation, distribution, and burning as well as climate change that are spread over time to future generations or over space to the entire planet. In this essay, several aspects of the fossil fuel legacy are discussed, such as alteration of the carbon cycle, carbon dioxide rise and its measurement, greenhouse effect, anthropogenic climate change, air pollution and human health, geoengineering proposals, land and water degradation, economic problems, indirect effects on the society, and the urgent need of regulatory efforts and related actions to promote a gradual transition out of the fossil fuel era. While manufacturing sustainable solar fuels appears to be a longer-time perspective, alternatives energy sources already exist that have the potential to replace fossil fuels as feedstocks for electricity production. PMID:21290608

  2. Corrected placement of Mus-Rattus fossil calibration forces precision in the molecular tree of rodents

    PubMed Central

    Kimura, Yuri; Hawkins, Melissa T. R.; McDonough, Molly M.; Jacobs, Louis L.; Flynn, Lawrence J.

    2015-01-01

    Time calibration derived from the fossil record is essential for molecular phylogenetic and evolutionary studies. Fossil mice and rats, discovered in the Siwalik Group of Pakistan, have served as one of the best-known fossil calibration points in molecular phylogenic studies. Although these fossils have been widely used as the 12 Ma date for the Mus/Rattus split or a more basal split, conclusive paleontological evidence for the nodal assignments has been absent. This study analyzes newly recognized characters that demonstrate lineage separation in the fossil record of Siwalik murines and examines the most reasonable nodal placement of the diverging lineages in a molecular phylogenetic tree by ancestral state reconstruction. Our specimen-based approach strongly indicates that Siwalik murines of the Karnimata clade are fossil members of the Arvicanthini-Otomyini-Millardini clade, which excludes Rattus and its relatives. Combining the new interpretation with the widely accepted hypothesis that the Progonomys clade includes Mus, the lineage separation event in the Siwalik fossil record represents the Mus/Arvicanthis split. Our test analysis on Bayesian age estimates shows that this new calibration point provides more accurate estimates of murine divergence than previous applications. Thus, we define this fossil calibration point and refine two other fossil-based points for molecular dating. PMID:26411391

  3. Vertebrate fossils and trace fossils in Upper Jurassic-Lower cretaceous red beds in the Atacama region, Chile

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bell, C. M.; Suárez, M.

    Pterosaur, dinosaur, and crocodile bones are recorded here for the first time in Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous red beds in the Atacama region east of Copiapó, Chile. Trace fossils produced by vertebrate animals include the footprints of theropod dinosaurs and the depressions of sandstone laminae interpreted as burrows and foot impressions. The fossils occur in the 1500-meter-thick Quebrada Monardes Formation, which consists predominantly of the aeolian and alluvial deposits of a semi-arid terrestrial environment. Vertebrate fossils are very rare in Chile. Dinosaur bones and footprints have previously been recorded at only seven locations, and pterosaur remains at only one location. The newly discovered dinosaur bones are the oldest to be described in Chile.

  4. We're Going on a Fossil Hunt!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Powell, Deborah A.; Aram, Richard B.; Aram, Roberta J.; Chase, Terry L.

    2007-01-01

    Scientists understand that scientific ideas are subject to change and improvement. Fourth- through eighth- graders develop this understanding about the nature of science as they gather and examine fossil evidence from the Paleozoic era, record their findings, and read and write about science for authentic purposes as scientists do. Students…

  5. Taxonomy and fossils: a critical appraisal.

    PubMed Central

    Forey, Peter L; Fortey, Richard A; Kenrick, Paul; Smith, Andrew B

    2004-01-01

    Many compendia at the species, genus and family levels document the fossil record, but these are not standardized, nor usually critical in content, and few are available on the World Wide Web. The sampling of the available record is good for organisms with fossilizable parts, but preservational constraints on the entire morphology, life history and geographical distribution lead to difficulties in recognizing and naming species. We recommend abandoning some of the palaeontological species concepts such as chronospecies and stratospecies, and we advocate species recognition based on unique combinations of characters. The compilation of species lists is extremely time consuming, and given the inherent problems we suggest that compilation of generic lists is a more achievable goal because genera are recognized by definitive morphological characters. In calculating taxon duration, care must be taken to distinguish between mono-, para- and polyphyletic groups, the first being the only reliable unit for use in calculating diversity curves. We support the inclusion of fossils into classifications based on Recent organisms, but we recognize some of the problems this may pose for standard Linnaean classifications. Web-based taxonomy is the way forward, having the advantages of speed and currency of information dissemination, universal access with links to primary literature and increasingly sophisticated imagery. These advantages over conventional outlets will only be realized with careful Web design and a commitment to maintenance. PMID:15253350

  6. 21,000 years of Ethiopian African monsoon variability recorded in sediments of the western Nile deep-sea fan: impact of the Nile freshwater inflow for the Mediterranean thermo-haline circulation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Revel, Marie; Colin, Christophe; Bernasconi, Stephano; Combourieu-Nebout, Nathalie; Ducassou, Emmanuelle; Rolland, Yann; Bosch, Delphine

    2014-05-01

    The Nile delta sedimentation constitutes a continuous high resolution (1.6 mm/year) record of Ethiopian African monsoon regime intensity. Multiproxy analyses performed on core MS27PT recovered in hemipelagic Nile sediment margin (<90 km outward of the Rosetta mouth of the Nile) allow the quantification of the Saharan aeolian dust and the Blue/White Nile River suspended matter frequency fluctuations during the last 21 cal. ka BP. The radiogenic Sr and Nd isotopes, clay mineralogy, bulk elemental composition and palynological analyses reveal large changes in source components, oscillating between a dominant aeolian Saharan contribution during the LGM and the Late Holocene (~4 to 2 cal. ka BP), a dominant Blue/Atbara Nile River contribution during the early Holocene (15 to 8.4 cal. ka BP) and a probable White Nile River contribution during the Middle Holocene (8.4 to 4 cal. ka BP). The following main features are highlighted: 1. The rapid shift from the LGM arid conditions to the African Humid Period (AHP) started at about 15 cal. ka BP. AHP extends until 8.4 cal. ka BP, and we suggest that the Ethiopian African Monsoon maximum between 12 and 8 cal. ka BP is responsible for a larger Blue/Atbara Nile sediment load and freshwater input into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. 2. The transition between the AHP and the arid Late Holocene is gradual and occurs in two main phases between 8.4 and 6.5 cal. ka BP and 6.5 to 3.2 cal. ka BP. We suggest that the main rain belt shifted southward from 8.4 to ~4 cal. ka BP and was responsible for progressively reduced sediment load and freshwater input into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. 3. The aridification along the Nile catchments occurred from ~4 to 2 cal. ka BP. A dry period, which culminates at 3.2 cal. ka BP, and seems to coincide with a re-establishment of increased oceanic primary productivity in the western Mediterranean Sea. We postulate that the decrease in thermo-haline water Mediterranean circulation could be part of a response to huge volumes of fresh-water delivered principally by the Nile River from 12 to 8.4 cal. ka BP in the eastern Mediterranean. We propose that the large hydrological change in Ethiopian latitude could be a trigger for the 8.2 ka cooling event recorded in high latitude. Revel R., Colin C., Bernasconi S., Combourieu-Nebout N., Ducassou E., Grousset F.E., Rolland Y., Migeon S., Brunet P., Zhaa Y., Bosch D., Mascle J.,. "21,000 years of Ethiopian African moonsoon variability recorded in sediments of the western Nile deep sea fan", Regional Environmental Change, in press.

  7. A revised checklist of Nepticulidae fossils (Lepidoptera) indicates an Early Cretaceous origin.

    PubMed

    Doorenweerd, Camiel; Nieukerken, Erik J Van; Sohn, Jae-Cheon; Labandeira, Conrad C

    2015-01-01

    With phylogenetic knowledge of Lepidoptera rapidly increasing, catalysed by increasingly powerful molecular techniques, the demand for fossil calibration points to estimate an evolutionary timeframe for the order is becoming an increasingly pressing issue. The family Nepticulidae is a species rich, basal branch within the phylogeny of the Lepidoptera, characterized by larval leaf-mining habits, and thereby represents a potentially important lineage whose evolutionary history can be established more thoroughly with the potential use of fossil calibration points. Using our experience with extant global Nepticulidae, we discuss a list of characters that may be used to assign fossil leaf mines to Nepticulidae, and suggest useful methods for classifying relevant fossil material. We present a checklist of 79 records of Nepticulidae representing adult and leaf-mine fossils mentioned in literature, often with multiple exemplars constituting a single record. We provide our interpretation of these fossils. Two species now are included in the collective generic name Stigmellites: Stigmellites resupinata (Krassilov, 2008) comb. nov. (from Ophiheliconoma) and Stigmellites almeidae (Martins-Neto, 1989) comb. nov. (from Nepticula). Eleven records are for the first time attributed to Nepticulidae. After discarding several dubious records, including one possibly placing the family at a latest Jurassic position, we conclude that the oldest fossils likely attributable to Nepticulidae are several exemplars representing a variety of species from the Dakota Formation (USA). The relevant strata containing these earliest fossils are now dated at 102 Ma (million years ago) in age, corresponding to the latest Albian Stage of the Early Cretaceous. Integration of all records in the checklist shows that a continuous presence of nepticulid-like leaf mines preserved as compression-impression fossils and by amber entombment of adults have a fossil record extending to the latest Early Cretaceous. PMID:26249403

  8. The "Sudden Explosion" of Animal Fossils about 600 Million Years Ago: Why?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kaveski, Sharon; Margulis, Lynn

    1983-01-01

    Discusses the "sudden explosion" of animal fossils during the Cambrian era, suggesting that the "explosion" is a result of organic evolution, leading to remarkably preservable calcareous skeletons. Suggests that earlier organisms were soft-bodied and consequently were poorly preserved in the fossil record. (JN)

  9. Phylogenetic implications of the first African Middle Miocene hominoid frontal bone from Otavi, Namibia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pickford, Martin; Sola, Salvador Moya; Köhler, Meike

    1997-09-01

    The discovery of a hominoid frontal at Berg Aukas, Namibia, aged 13-12 Ma, permits an analysis of the phylogenetic relations between fossil and extant great apes. The Namibian specimen is closer morphologically to African apes and humans (AAH), whereas all fossil Eurasian great apes differ markedly from AAH but are closer to the Pongo clade.

  10. An ecological reassessment of the southern African carnivore guild: a case study from Member 4, Sterkfontein, South Africa.

    PubMed

    O'Regan, H J; Reynolds, S C

    2009-09-01

    The southern African late Pliocene to early Pleistocene carnivore guild was much larger than that of the present day. Understanding how this guild may have functioned is important for the reconstruction of carnivore-hominin interactions and to assess the potential for hominin scavenging in southern Africa. In modern ecosystems, the coexistence of larger carnivore species is constrained by several factors, which include high levels of interspecific competition. Here, the composition of the fossil carnivore guild is examined using Sterkfontein Member 4 (Cradle of Humankind, South Africa) as a case study. Sterkfontein Member 4 contains 10 larger carnivore taxa (body mass >21.5 kg) and may also contain two Australopithecus species. Two possible causes of higher numbers of carnivore species in the South African fossil record are initially considered. First, that there is a bias introduced through comparing assemblages of differing sizes; second, carnivore biodiversity may have been artificially inflated due to previous taxonomic splitting of carnivore species, such as Crocuta. These possibilities are rejected and modern ecological data are used to construct a simple spatial model to determine how many carnivores could have co-existed. Although the resulting model indicates that the carnivore taxa present in Member 4 could have co-occurred, modern ecological studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that they would have co-existed simultaneously. Considering the complex depositional processes that operate in the southern African cave sites, it is proposed that the larger carnivore guild observed in the Sterkfontein Member 4 fossil assemblage is a palimpsest created by time-averaging. In light of this, we suggest that sites which have a large number of carnivore taxa should be examined for time-averaging, while those sites which have relatively few species may be a better reflection of carnivore communities. PMID:19647856

  11. Microbial Fossilization in Mineralizing Environments: Relevance for Mars "EXOPALEONTOLOGY"

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Farmer, Jack D.; DesMarais, David J.; Morrison, David (Technical Monitor)

    1994-01-01

    The goals of post-Viking exobiology include the search for a Martian fossil record. How can we optimize future exploration efforts to search for fossils on Mars? The Precambrian fossil record indicates that key factors for the long-term preservation of microbial fossils include: 1) the rapid entombment and/or replacement of organisms and organic matter by fine-grained, stable mineral phases (e.g. silica, phosphate, and to a lesser extent, carbonate), 2) low-permeability host sediments (maintaining a closed chemical system during early diagenesis), and 3) shallow burial (maintaining post-depositional temperatures and pressures within the stability range for complex organic molecules). Modem terrestrial environments where early mineralization commonly occurs in association with microbial organisms include: subaerial thermal springs and shallow hydrothermal systems, sub-lacustrine springs and evaporites of alkaline lakes, and subsoil environments where hardpans (e.g. calcretes, silcretes) and duricrusts form. Studies of microbial fossilization in such environments provide important insights preservation patterns in Precambrian rocks, while also playing a role in the development of strategies for Mars exopaleontology. The refinement of site priorities for Mars exopaleontology is expected to benefit greatly from high resolution imaging and altimetry acquired during upcoming orbital missions, and especially infrared and gamma ray spectral data needed for determining surface composition. In anticipation of future orbital missions, constraints for identifying high priority mineral deposits on Mars are being developed through analog remote sensing studies of key mineralizing environments on Earth.

  12. Determining the response of African biota to climate change: using the past to model the future

    PubMed Central

    Willis, K. J.; Bennett, K. D.; Burrough, S. L.; Macias-Fauria, M.; Tovar, C.

    2013-01-01

    Prediction of biotic responses to future climate change in tropical Africa tends to be based on two modelling approaches: bioclimatic species envelope models and dynamic vegetation models. Another complementary but underused approach is to examine biotic responses to similar climatic changes in the past as evidenced in fossil and historical records. This paper reviews these records and highlights the information that they provide in terms of understanding the local- and regional-scale responses of African vegetation to future climate change. A key point that emerges is that a move to warmer and wetter conditions in the past resulted in a large increase in biomass and a range distribution of woody plants up to 400–500 km north of its present location, the so-called greening of the Sahara. By contrast, a transition to warmer and drier conditions resulted in a reduction in woody vegetation in many regions and an increase in grass/savanna-dominated landscapes. The rapid rate of climate warming coming into the current interglacial resulted in a dramatic increase in community turnover, but there is little evidence for widespread extinctions. However, huge variation in biotic response in both space and time is apparent with, in some cases, totally different responses to the same climatic driver. This highlights the importance of local features such as soils, topography and also internal biotic factors in determining responses and resilience of the African biota to climate change, information that is difficult to obtain from modelling but is abundant in palaeoecological records. PMID:23878343

  13. Using more than the oldest fossils: dating osmundaceae with three Bayesian clock approaches.

    PubMed

    Grimm, Guido W; Kapli, Paschalia; Bomfleur, Benjamin; McLoughlin, Stephen; Renner, Susanne S

    2015-05-01

    A major concern in molecular clock dating is how to use information from the fossil record to calibrate genetic distances from DNA sequences. Here we apply three Bayesian dating methods that differ in how calibration is achieved-"node dating" (ND) in BEAST, "total evidence" (TE) dating in MrBayes, and the "fossilized birth-death" (FBD) in FDPPDiv-to infer divergence times in the royal ferns. Osmundaceae have 16-17 species in four genera, two mainly in the Northern Hemisphere and two in South Africa and Australasia; they are the sister clade to the remaining leptosporangiate ferns. Their fossil record consists of at least 150 species in ∼17 genera. For ND, we used the five oldest fossils, whereas for TE and FBD dating, which do not require forcing fossils to nodes and thus can use more fossils, we included up to 36 rhizomes and frond compression/impression fossils, which for TE dating were scored for 33 morphological characters. We also subsampled 10%, 25%, and 50% of the 36 fossils to assess model sensitivity. FBD-derived divergence ages were generally greater than those inferred from ND; two of seven TE-derived ages agreed with FBD-obtained ages, the others were much younger or much older than ND or FBD ages. We prefer the FBD-derived ages because they best fit the Osmundales fossil record (including Triassic fossils not used in our study). Under the preferred model, the clade encompassing extant Osmundaceae (and many fossils) dates to the latest Paleozoic to Early Triassic; divergences of the extant species occurred during the Neogene. Under the assumption of constant speciation and extinction rates, the FBD approach yielded speciation and extinction rates that overlapped those obtained from just neontological data. However, FBD estimates of speciation and extinction are sensitive to violations in the assumption of continuous fossil sampling; therefore, these estimates should be treated with caution. PMID:25503771

  14. Mental health concerns among African immigrants.

    PubMed

    Venters, Homer; Adekugbe, Olayinka; Massaquoi, Jacob; Nadeau, Cheryl; Saul, Jack; Gany, Francesca

    2011-08-01

    African immigrants represent a rapidly expanding group of immigrants in the United States. In New York City, Africans constitute the fastest growing segment of immigrants but the needs and practices of African immigrants in the U.S. remain poorly understood. A community based organization (CBO) serving African immigrants in Staten Island, NY began a health screening program in 2008 with the goal of promoting access to primary care. Over 18 months, 296 visits were recorded at African Refuge health screenings, representing a total of 87 people who averaged just over 3 visits per person. The screenings identified mental health among the top three medical problems of clients but referral to mental health services was rare. Dedicated services are required to better screen for mental health concerns and refer African immigrants to mental health care. PMID:20549358

  15. From Suns to Life: A Chronological Approach to the History of Life on Earth 7. Ancient Fossil Record and Early Evolution (ca. 3.8 to 0.5 Ga)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    López-Garcia, Purificacón; Moreira, David; Douzery, Emmanuel; Forterre, Patrick; van Zuilen, Mark; Claeys, Philippe; Prieur, Daniel

    2006-06-01

    Once life appeared, it evolved and diversified. From primitive living entities, an evolutionary path of unknown duration, likely paralleled by the extinction of unsuccessful attempts, led to a last common ancestor that was endowed with the basic properties of all cells. From it, cellular organisms derived in a relative order, chronology and manner that are not yet completely settled. Early life evolution was accompanied by metabolic diversification, i.e. by the development of carbon and energy metabolic pathways that differed from the first, not yet clearly identified, metabolic strategies used. When did the different evolutionary transitions take place? The answer is difficult, since hot controversies have been raised in recent years concerning the reliability of the oldest life traces, regardless of their morphological, isotopic or organic nature, and there are also many competing hypotheses for the evolution of the eukaryotic cell. As a result, there is a need to delimit hypotheses from solid facts and to apply a critical analysis of contrasting data. Hopefully, methodological improvement and the increase of data, including fossil signatures and genomic information, will help reconstructing a better picture of life evolution in early times as well as to, perhaps, date some of the major evolutionary transitions. There are already some certitudes. Modern eukaryotes evolved after bacteria, since their mitochondria derived from ancient bacterial endosymbionts. Once prokaryotes and unicellular eukaryotes had colonized terrestrial ecosystems for millions of years, the first pluricellular animals appeared and radiated, thus inaugurating the Cambrian. The following sections constitute a collection of independent articles providing a general overview of these aspects.

  16. The FORCLIM Eco-Physiological Growth Model for Planktic Foraminifera: a new Tool to Reconstruct Ecological Niches, Abundance and Potential Depth and Season of Growth for Fossil Foraminifera Species in Ocean Sediment Records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lombard, F.; Labeyrie, L.; Michel, E.; Lea, D.; Spero, H. J.; Forclim, M. O.

    2007-12-01

    Paleocean hydrological reconstructions derived from planktic foraminifera isotopic ratios (δ18O and δ13C) or trace element ratio (Mg/Ca) are poorly constrained, for lack of precise knowledge on seasonality and water depth of test formation. This is particularly limiting for reconstruction of the thermocline characteristics. Various calibrations have been published, based on statistical correlation with core tops fossil fauna, sediment traps or plankton net collection. We present here what we think is the first eco-physiological model reproducing the growth of different foraminifera species in function of environmental parameter. By reproducing the main physiological rates of foraminifera (nutrition, respiration, symbiotic photosynthesis), this model estimates their growth in function of temperature, light availability and food concentration. The model is now calibrated for the species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (dextral and sinistral forms), Neogloboquadrina dutertrei, Globigerina bulloides, Globigerinoides ruber, Globigerinoides sacculifer, Globigerinella siphonifera and Orbulina universa. Most of the model parameters are derived from newly performed experimental observations or from published data and only the influence of food concentration (in a Chl a basis) was calibrated with field observations. Using satellite data, the model predict the seasonal distribution of dominant foraminifer species over 576 field observations worldwide with efficiency higher than 60%. Moreover, the growth rate estimated for each foraminifera species can be used as an abundance indicator which allows prediction of the season and water depth at which most of the population has developed. This offers larges perspectives for both actual understanding of foraminifera role in the carbon/carbonate ocean cycle and for better quantification of paleoceanographic proxies. Forclim is a program supported by the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche and Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers, France.

  17. Evolution of the African continental crust as recorded by U-Pb, Lu-Hf and O isotopes in detrital zircons from modern rivers

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iizuka, Tsuyoshi; Campbell, Ian H.; Allen, Charlotte M.; Gill, James B.; Maruyama, Shigenori; Makoka, Frédéric

    2013-04-01

    To better understand the evolutionary history of the African continental crust, a combined U-Pb, Lu-Hf and O isotopic study has been carried out by in situ analyses of approximately 450 detrital zircon grains from the Niger, Nile, Congo, Zambezi and Orange Rivers. The U-Pb isotopic data show age peaks at ca. 2.7, 2.1-1.8, 1.2-1.0, ca. 0.8, 0.7-0.5 and ca. 0.3 Ga. These peaks, with the exception of the one at ca. 0.8 Ga, correspond with the assembly of supercontinents. Furthermore, the detrital zircons that crystallized during these periods of supercontinent assembly have dominantly non-mantle-like O and Hf isotopic signatures, in contrast to the ca. 0.8 Ga detrital zircons which have juvenile characteristics. These data can be interpreted as showing that continental collisions during supercontinent assembly resulted in supermountain building accompanied by remelting of older continental crust, which in turn led to significant erosion of young igneous rocks with non-mantle-like isotopic signatures. Alternatively, the data may indicate that the major mode of crustal development changed during the supercontinent cycle: the generation of juvenile crust in extensional settings was dominant during supercontinent fragmentation, whereas the stabilization of the generated crust via crustal accretion and reworking was important during supercontinent assembly. The Lu-Hf and O isotope systematics indicate that terreigneous sediments could attain elevated 18O/16O via prolonged sediment-sediment recycling over long crustal residence time, and also that reworking of carbonate and chert which generally have elevated 18O/16O and low Hf contents is minor in granitoid magmatism. The highest 18O/16O in detrital zircon abruptly increased at ca. 2.1 Ga and became nearly constant thereafter. This indicates that reworking of mature sediments increased abruptly at that time, probably as a result of a transition in the dynamics of either granitoid crust formation or sedimentary evolution. To estimate the mantle-extraction age of the reworked crust, we have calculated arc mantle Hf model ages for the detrital zircons using O isotopic data to constrain the Lu/Hf used in the model age calculation. The Hf model age histograms for each period of detrital zircons suggest that a significant amount of the African continental crust was generated in the Paleo-Mesoproterozoic likely by mafic magmatism, and subsequently reworked into younger granitoid crust with varying crustal residence times.

  18. Improvisation in West African Musics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Locke, David

    1980-01-01

    Discussed is music of the sub-Sahara. Vocal, instrumental, and dance drumming from the Sudan Desert, the North Coast, East Horn, Central and West Africa, and contrapuntal yodeling of Pygmies is described. For African musicians, the ability to improvise, and creativity, are gifts from God. Includes selected readings and recordings. (KC)

  19. African Aesthetics

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Abiodun, Rowland

    2001-01-01

    No single traditional discipline can adequately supply answers to the many unresolved questions in African art history. Because of the aesthetic, cultural, historical, and, not infrequently, political biases, already built into the conception and development of Western art history, the discipline of art history as defined and practiced in the West…

  20. Diets of fossil primates from the Fayum Depression of Egypt: a quantitative analysis of molar shearing.

    PubMed

    Kirk, E C; Simons, E L

    2001-03-01

    Over the last 90 years, Eocene and Oligocene aged sediments in the Fayum Depression of Egypt have yielded at least 17 genera of fossil primates. However, of this diverse sample the diets of only four early Oligocene anthropoid genera have been previously studied using quantitative methods. Here we present dietary assessments for 11 additional Fayum primate genera based on the analysis of body mass and molar shearing crest development. These studies reveal that all late Eocene Fayum anthropoids were probably frugivorous despite marked subfamilial differences in dental morphology. By contrast, late Eocene Fayum prosimians demonstrated remarkable dietary diversity, including specialized insectivory (Anchomomys), generalized frugivory (Plesiopithecus), frugivory+insectivory (Wadilemur), and strict folivory (Aframonius). This evidence that sympatric prosimians and early anthropoids jointly occupied frugivorous niches during the late Eocene reinforces the hypothesis that changes in diet did not form the primary ecological impetus for the origin of the Anthropoidea. Early Oligocene Fayum localities differ from late Eocene Fayum localities in lacking large-bodied frugivorous and folivorous prosimians, and may document the first appearance of primate communities with trophic structures like those of extant primate communities in continental Africa. A similar change in primate community structure during the Eocene-Oligocene transition is not evident in the Asian fossil record. Putative large anthropoids from the Eocene of Asia, such as Amphipithecus mogaungensis, Pondaungia cotteri, and Siamopithecus eocaenus, share with early Oligocene Fayum anthropoids derived features of molar anatomy related to an emphasis on crushing and grinding during mastication. However, these dental specializations are not seen in late Eocene Fayum anthropoids that are broadly ancestral to the later-occurring anthropoids of the Fayum's upper sequence. This lack of resemblance to undisputed Eocene African anthropoids suggests that the "progressive" anthropoid-like dental features of some large-bodied Eocene Asian primates may be the result of dietary convergence rather than close phyletic affinity with the Anthropoidea. PMID:11180986

  1. Shared Pattern of Endocranial Shape Asymmetries among Great Apes, Anatomically Modern Humans, and Fossil Hominins

    PubMed Central

    Balzeau, Antoine; Gilissen, Emmanuel; Grimaud-Hervé, Dominique

    2012-01-01

    Anatomical asymmetries of the human brain are a topic of major interest because of their link with handedness and cognitive functions. Their emergence and occurrence have been extensively explored in human fossil records to document the evolution of brain capacities and behaviour. We quantified for the first time antero-posterior endocranial shape asymmetries in large samples of great apes, modern humans and fossil hominins through analysis of “virtual” 3D models of skull and endocranial cavity and we statistically test for departures from symmetry. Once based on continuous variables, we show that the analysis of these brain asymmetries gives original results that build upon previous analysis based on discrete traits. In particular, it emerges that the degree of petalial asymmetries differs between great apes and hominins without modification of their pattern. We indeed demonstrate the presence of shape asymmetries in great apes, with a pattern similar to modern humans but with a lower variation and a lower degree of fluctuating asymmetry. More importantly, variations in the position of the frontal and occipital poles on the right and left hemispheres would be expected to show some degree of antisymmetry when population distribution is considered, but the observed pattern of variation among the samples is related to fluctuating asymmetry for most of the components of the petalias. Moreover, the presence of a common pattern of significant directional asymmetry for two components of the petalias in hominids implicates that the observed traits were probably inherited from the last common ancestor of extant African great apes and Homo sapiens. These results also have important implications for the possible relationships between endocranial shape asymmetries and functional capacities in hominins. It emphasizes the uncoupling between lateralized activities, some of them well probably distinctive to Homo, and large-scale cerebral lateralization itself, which is not unique to Homo. PMID:22242147

  2. Fossil Leaves and Fossil Leaf n-Alkanes: Reconstructing the First Closed Canopied Rainforests

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Graham, H. V.; Freeman, K. H.

    2013-12-01

    Although the age and location is disputed, the rise of the first closed-canopy forest is likely linked with the expansion of angiosperms in the late Cretacous or early Cenozoic. The carbon isotope 'canopy effect' reflects the extent of canopy closure, and is well documented in δ13C values of the leaves and leaf lipids in modern forests. To test the extent of canopy closure among the oldest documented angiosperm tropical forests, we analyzed isotopic characteristics of leaf fossils and leaf waxes from the Guaduas and Cerrejón Formations. The Guaduas Fm. (Maastrichtian) contains some of the earliest angiosperm fossils in the Neotropics, and both leaf morphology and pollen records at this site suggest an open-canopy structure. The Cerrejón Fm. (Paleocene) contains what are believed to be the first recorded fossil leaves from a closed-canopy forest. We analyzed the bulk carbon isotope content (δ13Cleaf) of 199 fossil leaves, as well as the n-alkane concentration and chain-length distribution, and δ13C of alkanes (δ13Clipid) of 73 fossil leaves and adjacent sediment samples. Fossil leaves are dominated by eudicots and include ten modern plant families (Apocynaceae, Bombaceae, Euphorbaceae, Fabaceae, Lauraceae, Malvaceae, Meliaceae, Menispermaceae, Moraceae, Sapotaceae). We interpreted extent of canopy coverage based on the range of δ13Cleaf values. The narrow range of δ13C values in leaves from the Guaduas Fm (2.7‰) is consistent with an open canopy. A significantly wider range in values (6.3‰) suggests a closed-canopy signature for site 0315 of the Cerrejón Fm,. In contrast, at Site 0318, a lacustrine deposit, leaves had a narrow range (3.3‰) in δ13C values, and this is not consistent with a closed-canopy, but is consistent with leaf assemblages from a forest edge. Leaves that accumulate in lake sediments tend to be biased toward plants living at the lake edge, which do not experience closed-canopy conditions, and do not express the isotopic characteristics associated with canopy effect. A biomass flux-weighted model of alkane chain-length distribution and δ13Cleaf indicate n-alkanes extracted from bulk rock are consistent with inputs integrated over time from plants represented by fossil leaves. In a modern rainforest, we found leaf lipid amounts markedly higher in the shaded and moist understory, consistent with studies that show alkanes proffer fungal protection. Shade tolerance is associated with higher plant orders and, consistent with this, literature data for modern plants from 30 plant orders shows alkane production in asterids and rosids is 2 to 3 times greater than in basal angiosperms or gymnosperms. The lower clades tend to contain greater amounts of terpenoids and novel benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, rather than alkanes. For our three fossil floras, alkane abundance is strongly influenced by depositional setting, with preservation best in the lacustrine setting. Within each site, abundance patterns are potentially influenced by both taxonomic affiliation and by canopy structure as measured by δ13Cleaf values, and such relationships shed light on the combined influences of plant evolution, canopy structure and the function of biochemical resources on the geochemical record of the first rainforests.

  3. Travels with the Fossil Hunters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Whybrow, Peter J.

    2000-04-01

    Whether dodging bullets in West Africa, or rabid dogs in Pakistan, surviving yak-butter tea in Tibet, or eating raw fish in China, the life of a globe-trotting fossil hunter is often hazardous and always filled with surprises. Travels with the Fossil Hunters lets readers share the wonder, joys of discovery, and excitement of these intrepid scientists. Packed with more than 100 beautiful, full-color photographs, the volume takes readers on twelve expeditions to remote parts of the world in search of diverse fossil remains, from those of dinosaurs to human ancestors. Each expedition by paleontologists from London's Natural History Museum reveals the problems and challenges of working in extreme conditions, from the deserts of the Sahara and Yemen to the frozen wastes of Antarctica, from the mountains of India to the forests of Latvia. Along the way they also describe the paleontology and geology of the countries they visit and the scientific reasons for their expeditions. With a foreword from Sir David Attenborough and an introduction from Richard Fortey, this fascinating book will appeal to amateur and professional fossil hunters alike and to readers interested in accounts of exotic locales. Peter Whybrow is a research scientist at the Natural History Museum, London. His research interests include Arabian Miocene vertebrates, paleoclimates, paleogeography, and biotic diversity. He is senior editor with A. Hill of Fossil Vertebrates of Arabia (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1999).

  4. Genetics, Morphology, Advertisement Calls, and Historical Records Distinguish Six New Polyploid Species of African Clawed Frog (Xenopus, Pipidae) from West and Central Africa

    PubMed Central

    Evans, Ben J.; Carter, Timothy F.; Greenbaum, Eli; Gvoždík, Václav; Kelley, Darcy B.; McLaughlin, Patrick J.; Pauwels, Olivier S. G.; Portik, Daniel M.; Stanley, Edward L.; Tinsley, Richard C.; Tobias, Martha L.; Blackburn, David C.

    2015-01-01

    African clawed frogs, genus Xenopus, are extraordinary among vertebrates in the diversity of their polyploid species and the high number of independent polyploidization events that occurred during their diversification. Here we update current understanding of the evolutionary history of this group and describe six new species from west and central sub-Saharan Africa, including four tetraploids and two dodecaploids. We provide information on molecular variation, morphology, karyotypes, vocalizations, and estimated geographic ranges, which support the distinctiveness of these new species. We resurrect Xenopus calcaratus from synonymy of Xenopus tropicalis and refer populations from Bioko Island and coastal Cameroon (near Mt. Cameroon) to this species. To facilitate comparisons to the new species, we also provide comments on the type specimens, morphology, and distributions of X. epitropicalis, X. tropicalis, and X. fraseri. This includes significantly restricted application of the names X. fraseri and X. epitropicalis, the first of which we argue is known definitively only from type specimens and possibly one other specimen. Inferring the evolutionary histories of these new species allows refinement of species groups within Xenopus and leads to our recognition of two subgenera (Xenopus and Silurana) and three species groups within the subgenus Xenopus (amieti, laevis, and muelleri species groups). PMID:26672747

  5. Genetics, Morphology, Advertisement Calls, and Historical Records Distinguish Six New Polyploid Species of African Clawed Frog (Xenopus, Pipidae) from West and Central Africa.

    PubMed

    Evans, Ben J; Carter, Timothy F; Greenbaum, Eli; Gvoždík, Václav; Kelley, Darcy B; McLaughlin, Patrick J; Pauwels, Olivier S G; Portik, Daniel M; Stanley, Edward L; Tinsley, Richard C; Tobias, Martha L; Blackburn, David C

    2015-01-01

    African clawed frogs, genus Xenopus, are extraordinary among vertebrates in the diversity of their polyploid species and the high number of independent polyploidization events that occurred during their diversification. Here we update current understanding of the evolutionary history of this group and describe six new species from west and central sub-Saharan Africa, including four tetraploids and two dodecaploids. We provide information on molecular variation, morphology, karyotypes, vocalizations, and estimated geographic ranges, which support the distinctiveness of these new species. We resurrect Xenopus calcaratus from synonymy of Xenopus tropicalis and refer populations from Bioko Island and coastal Cameroon (near Mt. Cameroon) to this species. To facilitate comparisons to the new species, we also provide comments on the type specimens, morphology, and distributions of X. epitropicalis, X. tropicalis, and X. fraseri. This includes significantly restricted application of the names X. fraseri and X. epitropicalis, the first of which we argue is known definitively only from type specimens and possibly one other specimen. Inferring the evolutionary histories of these new species allows refinement of species groups within Xenopus and leads to our recognition of two subgenera (Xenopus and Silurana) and three species groups within the subgenus Xenopus (amieti, laevis, and muelleri species groups). PMID:26672747

  6. A Galactic Fossil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2007-05-01

    How old are the oldest stars? Using ESO's VLT, astronomers recently measured the age of a star located in our Galaxy. The star, a real fossil, is found to be 13.2 billion years old, not very far from the 13.7 billion years age of the Universe. The star, HE 1523-0901, was clearly born at the dawn of time. "Surprisingly, it is very hard to pin down the age of a star", the lead author of the paper reporting the results, Anna Frebel, explains. "This requires measuring very precisely the abundance of the radioactive elements thorium or uranium, a feat only the largest telescopes such as ESO's VLT can achieve." ESO PR Photo 23a/07 ESO PR Photo 23a/07 The 'Cosmic Clock' This technique is analogous to the carbon-14 dating method that has been so successful in archaeology over time spans of up to a few tens of thousands of years. In astronomy, however, this technique must obviously be applied to vastly longer timescales. For the method to work well, the right choice of radioactive isotope is critical. Unlike other, stable elements that formed at the same time, the abundance of a radioactive (unstable) isotope decreases all the time. The faster the decay, the less there will be left of the radioactive isotope after a certain time, so the greater will be the abundance difference when compared to a stable isotope, and the more accurate is the resulting age. Yet, for the clock to remain useful, the radioactive element must not decay too fast - there must still be enough left of it to allow an accurate measurement, even after several billion years. "Actual age measurements are restricted to the very rare objects that display huge amounts of the radioactive elements thorium or uranium," says Norbert Christlieb, co-author of the report. ESO PR Photo 23b/07 ESO PR Photo 23b/07 Uranium Line in the Spectrum of an Old Star Large amounts of these elements have been found in the star HE 1523-0901, an old, relatively bright star that was discovered within the Hamburg/ESO survey [1]. The star was then observed with UVES on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) for a total of 7.5 hours. A high quality spectrum was obtained that could never have been achieved without the combination of the large collecting power Kueyen, one of the individual 8.2-m Unit Telescopes of the VLT, and the extremely good sensitivity of UVES in the ultraviolet spectral region, where the lines from the elements are observed. For the first time, the age dating involved both radioactive elements in combination with the three other neutron-capture elements europium, osmium, and iridium. "Until now, it has not been possible to measure more than a single cosmic clock for a star. Now, however, we have managed to make six measurements in this one star", says Frebel. Ever since the star was born, these "clocks" have ticked away over the eons, unaffected by the turbulent history of the Milky Way. They now read 13.2 billion years. The Universe being 13.7 billion years old, this star clearly formed very early in the life of our own Galaxy, which must also formed very soon after the Big Bang. More Information This research is reported in a paper published in the 10 May issue of the Astrophysical Journal ("Discovery of HE 1523-0901, a Strongly r-Process Enhanced Metal-Poor Star with Detected Uranium", by A. Frebel et al.). The team includes Anna Frebel (McDonald Observatory, Texas) and John E. Norris (The Australian National University), Norbert Christlieb (Uppsala University, Sweden, and Hamburg Observatory, Germany), Christopher Thom (University of Chicago, USA, and Swinburne University of Technlogy, Australia), Timothy C. Beers (Michigan State University, USA), Jaehyon Rhee (Center for Space Astrophysics, Yonsei University, Korea, and Caltech, USA).

  7. Managing the Challenges of Adopting Electronic Medical Records: An Exploratory Study of the Challenges Faced by African American Health Care Professionals

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Riddick, William P.

    2013-01-01

    The implementation of technology within the health care industry is viewed as a possible solution for lowering costs and improving health care delivery to patients. Electronic medical record system(s) (EMRS) are information technology tools viewed within the health care industry as a possible solution for aiding improvements in health care…

  8. Managing the Challenges of Adopting Electronic Medical Records: An Exploratory Study of the Challenges Faced by African American Health Care Professionals

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Riddick, William P.

    2013-01-01

    The implementation of technology within the health care industry is viewed as a possible solution for lowering costs and improving health care delivery to patients. Electronic medical record system(s) (EMRS) are information technology tools viewed within the health care industry as a possible solution for aiding improvements in health care

  9. Fossils, rocks, and time

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, Lucy E.; Pojeta, John

    1999-01-01

    We study our Earth for many reasons: to find water to drink or oil to run our cars or coal to heat our homes, to know where to expect earthquakes or landslides or floods, and to try to understand our natural surroundings. Earth is constantly changing--nothing on its surface is truly permanent. Rocks that are now on top of a mountain may once have been at the bottom of the sea. Thus, to understand the world we live on, we must add the dimension of time. We must study Earth's history. When we talk about recorded history, time is measured in years, centuries, and tens of centuries. When we talk about Earth history, time is measured in millions and billions of years. Time is an everyday part of our lives. We keep track of time with a marvelous invention, the calendar, which is based on the movements of Earth in space. One spin of Earth on its axis is a day, and one trip around the Sun is a year. The modern calendar is a great achievement, developed over many thousands of years as theory and technology improved. People who study Earth's history also use a type of calendar, called the geologic time scale. It looks very different from the familiar calendar. In some ways, it is more like a book, and the rocks are its pages. Some of the pages are torn or missing, and the pages are not numbered, but geology gives us the tools to help us read this book.

  10. Fossils, rocks, and time

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, Lucy E.; Pojeta, John, Jr.

    1993-01-01

    We study out Earth for many reasons: to find water to drink or oil to run our cars or coal to heat our homes, to know where to expect earthquakes or landslides or floods, and to try to understand our natural surroundings. Earth is constantly changing--nothing on its surface is truly permanent. Rocks that are not on top of a mountain may once have been on the bottom of the sea. Thus, to understand the world we live on, we must add the dimension of time. We must study Earth's history. When we talk about recorded history, time is measured in years, centuries, and tens of centuries. When we talk about Earth history, time is measured in millions and billions of years. Time is an everyday part of our lives. We keep track of time with a marvelous invention, the calendar, which is based on the movements of the Earth in space. One spin of Earth on its axis is a day, and one trip around the sun is a year. The modern calendar is a great achievement, developed over many thousands of years as theory and technology improved. People who study Earth's history also use a type of calendar, called the geologic time scale. It looks very different from the familiar calendar. In some ways, it is more like a book, and the rocks are its pages. Some of the pages are torn or missing, and the pages are not numbered, but geology gives us the tools to help us read this book.

  11. FOSSIL2 energy policy model documentation: FOSSIL2 documentation

    SciTech Connect

    1980-10-01

    This report discusses the structure, derivations, assumptions, and mathematical formulation of the FOSSIL2 model. Each major facet of the model - supply/demand interactions, industry financing, and production - has been designed to parallel closely the actual cause/effect relationships determining the behavior of the United States energy system. The data base for the FOSSIL2 program is large, as is appropriate for a system dynamics simulation model. When possible, all data were obtained from sources well known to experts in the energy field. Cost and resource estimates are based on DOE data whenever possible. This report presents the FOSSIL2 model at several levels. Volumes II and III of this report list the equations that comprise the FOSSIL2 model, along with variable definitions and a cross-reference list of the model variables. Volume II provides the model equations with each of their variables defined, while Volume III lists the equations, and a one line definition for equations, in a shorter, more readable format.

  12. DNA extraction from fossil eggshell.

    PubMed

    Oskam, Charlotte L; Bunce, Michael

    2012-01-01

    Avian eggshell fragments recovered from both paleontological and archaeological deposits contain a cache of well-preserved ancient DNA. Here, we describe an extraction protocol that has been optimized to maximize the recovery of ancient DNA from fossil eggshell and minimize the co-purification of PCR inhibitors. In this method, fossil eggshell fragments are powdered, then digested and heated to release DNA from the calcite matrix. The digest then undergoes a concentration step before purification and washing using silica columns. The method has been used to recover aDNA from the eggshell of many avian species including moa, elephant birds, and emu, up to 19,000 years old. PMID:22237523

  13. Palaeobiology: Argentinian unhatched pterosaur fossil.

    PubMed

    Chiappe, Luis M; Codorniú, Laura; Grellet-Tinner, Gerald; Rivarola, David

    2004-12-01

    Our knowledge of the eggs and embryos of pterosaurs, the Mesozoic flying reptiles, is sparse. Until now, the recent discovery of an ornithocheirid embryo from 121-million-year-old rocks in China constituted the only reliable evidence of an unhatched pterosaur. Here we describe an embryonic fossil of a different pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous lacustrine deposits of Loma del Pterodaustro (the Lagarcito Formation, which is about 100 million years old) in central Argentina. This new fossil provides insight into the eggshell morphology, early growth and nesting environments of pterosaurs. PMID:15577899

  14. Modulation of fossil fuel production by global temperature variations, 2

    SciTech Connect

    Rust, B.W.; Crosby, F.J.

    1994-01-01

    The report includes the inverse modulation of global fossil production by variations in Northern Hemispheric temperatures. The present study incorporates recent revisions and extensions of the fuel production record and uses a much improved temperature record. The authors show that the new data are consistent with the predictions of the original Rust-Kirk model which they then extend to allow for time lag between variations in the temperature and the corresponding responses in fuel production. The modulation enters the new model through the convolution of a lagged averaging function with the temperature time-series. The authors also include explicit terms to account for the perturbations caused by the Great Depression and World War II. The final model accounts for 99.84% of the total variance in the production record. This modulation represents a feedback which is consistent with the carbon dioxide problem; climate change; fossil fuel production; global warming Gaia hypothesis; temperature variations.

  15. African-American Biography.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Martin, Ron

    1995-01-01

    Suggests sources of information for African American History Month for library media specialists who work with students in grades four through eight. Gale Research's "African-American Reference Library," which includes "African-America Biography,""African-American Chronology," and "African-American Almanac," is reviewed, and a reference activity…

  16. The oldest Mahonia (Berberidaceae) fossil from East Asia and its biogeographic implications.

    PubMed

    Huang, Jian; Su, Tao; Lebereton-Anberrée, Julie; Zhang, Shi-Tao; Zhou, Zhe-Kun

    2016-03-01

    Interpretation of the biogeography of the genus Mahonia (Berberidaceae) is limited by the lack of fossil records in East Asia. Compressed fossil foliage, described here as Mahonia mioasiatica sp. nov., were collected from the Upper Miocene Xiaolongtan Formation in Wenshan, Yunnan, southwest China. These specimens represent the oldest reliable fossil record of Mahonia in East Asia. This new fossil species shows a general similarity to Group Orientales and is most similar to the extant eastern Asian Mahonia conferta. Considering other fossil evidence of Mahonia, we propose a migration route of this genus to Asia over the North Atlantic Land Bridge rather than the Bering Land Bridge. Our results also suggest that North America, Europe and East Asia have been successive centers of diversity for the genus, as a consequence of diversification in Group Orientales potentially related to historical climate change. PMID:26691316

  17. Peaches Preceded Humans: Fossil Evidence from SW China.

    PubMed

    Su, Tao; Wilf, Peter; Huang, Yongjiang; Zhang, Shitao; Zhou, Zhekun

    2015-01-01

    Peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is an extremely popular tree fruit worldwide, with an annual production near 20 million tons. Peach is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000-7000 BP. Here, we report eight fossil peach endocarps from late Pliocene strata of Kunming City, Yunnan, southwestern China. The fossils are identical to modern peach endocarps, including size comparable to smaller modern varieties, a single seed, a deep dorsal groove, and presence of deep pits and furrows. These fossils show that China has been a critical region for peach evolution since long before human presence, much less agriculture. Peaches evolved their modern morphology under natural selection, presumably involving large, frugivorous mammals such as primates. Much later, peach size and variety increased through domestication and breeding. PMID:26610240

  18. Fossil papio cranium from !Ncumtsa (Koanaka) Hills, western Ngamiland, Botswana.

    PubMed

    Williams, Blythe A; Ross, Callum F; Frost, Stephen R; Waddle, Diane M; Gabadirwe, Mohutsiwa; Brook, George A

    2012-09-01

    Three fossils, a cranium of Papio, a cercopithecid frontal bone, and a mandible of juvenile Papio, have been recovered from cave deposits in the !Ncumtsa (Koanaka) Hills of western Ngamiland, Botswana. These specimens are significant because well-preserved crania of Papio are extremely rare in the fossil record outside of South Africa and because this is the first report of fossil primate cranial remains from Botswana. Thermoluminescence dating of surrounding cave matrix indicates an age of ≥317 ± 114 ka, within the Middle Pleistocene, although it may be older. Based on univariate and multivariate analyses, the adult !Ncumtsa specimen falls within the range of variation seen in extant forms of Papio, yet is distinct from any living species/subspecies and represents a new taxon, named here as a new subspecies of Papio hamadryas-Papio hamadryas botswanae. PMID:22639236

  19. Peaches Preceded Humans: Fossil Evidence from SW China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Su, Tao; Wilf, Peter; Huang, Yongjiang; Zhang, Shitao; Zhou, Zhekun

    2015-11-01

    Peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is an extremely popular tree fruit worldwide, with an annual production near 20 million tons. Peach is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000-7000 BP. Here, we report eight fossil peach endocarps from late Pliocene strata of Kunming City, Yunnan, southwestern China. The fossils are identical to modern peach endocarps, including size comparable to smaller modern varieties, a single seed, a deep dorsal groove, and presence of deep pits and furrows. These fossils show that China has been a critical region for peach evolution since long before human presence, much less agriculture. Peaches evolved their modern morphology under natural selection, presumably involving large, frugivorous mammals such as primates. Much later, peach size and variety increased through domestication and breeding.

  20. Peaches Preceded Humans: Fossil Evidence from SW China

    PubMed Central

    Su, Tao; Wilf, Peter; Huang, Yongjiang; Zhang, Shitao; Zhou, Zhekun

    2015-01-01

    Peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is an extremely popular tree fruit worldwide, with an annual production near 20 million tons. Peach is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000–7000 BP. Here, we report eight fossil peach endocarps from late Pliocene strata of Kunming City, Yunnan, southwestern China. The fossils are identical to modern peach endocarps, including size comparable to smaller modern varieties, a single seed, a deep dorsal groove, and presence of deep pits and furrows. These fossils show that China has been a critical region for peach evolution since long before human presence, much less agriculture. Peaches evolved their modern morphology under natural selection, presumably involving large, frugivorous mammals such as primates. Much later, peach size and variety increased through domestication and breeding. PMID:26610240

  1. Species longevity in North American fossil mammals.

    PubMed

    Prothero, Donald R

    2014-08-01

    Species longevity in the fossil record is related to many paleoecological variables and is important to macroevolutionary studies, yet there are very few reliable data on average species durations in Cenozoic fossil mammals. Many of the online databases (such as the Paleobiology Database) use only genera of North American Cenozoic mammals and there are severe problems because key groups (e.g. camels, oreodonts, pronghorns and proboscideans) have no reliable updated taxonomy, with many invalid genera and species and/or many undescribed genera and species. Most of the published datasets yield species duration estimates of approximately 2.3-4.3 Myr for larger mammals, with small mammals tending to have shorter species durations. My own compilation of all the valid species durations in families with updated taxonomy (39 families, containing 431 genera and 998 species, averaging 2.3 species per genus) yields a mean duration of 3.21 Myr for larger mammals. This breaks down to 4.10-4.39 Myr for artiodactyls, 3.14-3.31 Myr for perissodactyls and 2.63-2.95 Myr for carnivorous mammals (carnivorans plus creodonts). These averages are based on a much larger, more robust dataset than most previous estimates, so they should be more reliable for any studies that need species longevity to be accurately estimated. PMID:25236413

  2. Ancient Ephemeroptera-Collembola symbiosis fossilized in amber predicts contemporary phoretic associations.

    PubMed

    Penney, David; McNeil, Andrew; Green, David I; Bradley, Robert S; Jepson, James E; Withers, Philip J; Preziosi, Richard F

    2012-01-01

    X-ray computed tomography is used to identify a unique example of fossilized phoresy in 16 million-year-old Miocene Dominican amber involving a springtail being transported by a mayfly. It represents the first evidence (fossil or extant) of phoresy in adult Ephemeroptera and only the second record in Collembola (the first is also preserved in amber). This is the first record of Collembola using winged insects for dispersal. This fossil predicts the occurrence of similar behaviour in living springtails and helps explain the global distribution of Collembola today. PMID:23082186

  3. The colour of fossil feathers.

    PubMed

    Vinther, Jakob; Briggs, Derek E G; Prum, Richard O; Saranathan, Vinodkumar

    2008-10-23

    Feathers are complex integumentary appendages of birds and some other theropod dinosaurs. They are frequently coloured and function in camouflage and display. Previous investigations have concluded that fossil feathers are preserved as carbonized traces composed of feather-degrading bacteria. Here, an investigation of a colour-banded feather from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation of Brazil revealed that the dark bands are preserved as elongate, oblate carbonaceous bodies 1-2 microm long, whereas the light bands retain only relief traces on the rock matrix. Energy dispersive X-ray analysis showed that the dark bands preserve a substantial amount of carbon, whereas the light bands show no carbon residue. Comparison of these oblate fossil bodies with the structure of black feathers from a living bird indicates that they are the eumelanin-containing melanosomes. We conclude that most fossil feathers are preserved as melanosomes, and that the distribution of these structures in fossil feathers can preserve the colour pattern in the original feather. The discovery of preserved melanosomes opens up the possibility of interpreting the colour of extinct birds and other dinosaurs. PMID:18611841

  4. Theory of fossil magnetic field

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dudorov, Alexander E.; Khaibrakhmanov, Sergey A.

    2015-02-01

    Theory of fossil magnetic field is based on the observations, analytical estimations and numerical simulations of magnetic flux evolution during star formation in the magnetized cores of molecular clouds. Basic goals, main features of the theory and manifestations of MHD effects in young stellar objects are discussed.

  5. Mitochondrial genomes as living 'fossils'.

    PubMed

    Small, Ian

    2013-01-01

    The huge variation between mitochondrial genomes makes untangling their evolutionary histories difficult. Richardson et al. report on the remarkably unaltered 'fossil' genome of the tulip tree, giving us many clues as to how the mitochondrial genomes of flowering plants have evolved over the last 150 million years, and raising questions about how such extraordinary sequence conservation can be maintained. PMID:23587103

  6. Progress of fossil fuel science

    SciTech Connect

    Demirbas, M.F.

    2007-07-01

    Coal is the most abundant and widely distributed fossil fuel. More than 45% of the world's electricity is generated from coal, and it is the major fuel for generating electricity worldwide. The known coal reserves in the world are enough for more than 215 years of consumption, while the known oil reserves are only about 39 times of the world's consumption and the known natural gas reserves are about 63 times of the world's consumption level in 1998. In recent years, there have been effective scientific investigations on Turkish fossil fuels, which are considerable focused on coal resources. Coal is a major fossil fuel source for Turkey. Turkish coal consumption has been stable over the past decade and currently accounts for about 24% of the country's total energy consumption. Lignite coal has had the biggest share in total fossil fuel production, at 43%, in Turkey. Turkish researchers may investigate ten broad pathways of coal species upgrading, such as desulfurization and oxydesulfurization, pyrolysis and hydropyrolysis, liquefaction and hydroliquefaction, extraction and supercritical fluid extraction, gasification, oxidation, briquetting, flotation, and structure identification.

  7. Phylogeny of the Infraorder Pentatomomorpha Based on Fossil and Extant Morphology, with Description of a New Fossil Family from China

    PubMed Central

    Yao, Yunzhi; Ren, Dong; Rider, David A.; Cai, Wanzhi

    2012-01-01

    Background An extinct new family of Pentatomomorpha, Venicoridae Yao, Ren & Cai fam. nov., with 2 new genera and 2 new species (Venicoris solaris Yao, Ren & Rider gen. & sp. nov. and Clavaticoris zhengi Yao, Ren & Cai gen. & sp. nov.) are described from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation in Northeast China. Methodology/Principal Findings A cladistic analysis based on a combination of fossil and extant morphological characters clarified the phylogenetic status of the new family and has allowed the reconstruction of intersuperfamily and interfamily relationships within the Infraorder Pentatomomorpha. The fossil record and diversity of Pentatomomorpha during the Mesozoic is discussed. Conclusions/Significance Pentatomomorpha is a monophyletic group; Aradoidea and the Trichophora are sister groups; these fossils belong to new family, treated as the sister group of remainder of Trichophora; Pentatomoidea is a monophyletic group; Piesmatidae should be separated as a superfamily, Piesmatoidea. Origin time of Pentatomomorpha should be tracked back to the Middle or Early Triassic. PMID:22655038

  8. Obesity and African Americans

    MedlinePlus

    ... Data > Minority Population Profiles > Black/African American > Obesity Obesity and African Americans African American women have the ... ss6104.pdf [PDF | 3.5MB] HEALTH IMPACT OF OBESITY More than 80 percent of people with type ...

  9. Fossil Energy: Drivers and Challenges.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Friedmann, Julio

    2007-04-01

    Concerns about rapid economic growth, energy security, and global climate change have created a new landscape for fossil energy exploration, production, and utilization. Since 85% of primary energy supply comes from fossil fuels, and 85% of greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuel consumption, new and difficult technical and political challenges confront commercial, governmental, and public stakeholders. As such, concerns over climate change are explicitly weighed against security of international and domestic energy supplies, with economic premiums paid for either or both. Efficiency improvements, fuel conservation, and deployment of nuclear and renewable supplies will help both concerns, but are unlikely to offset growth in the coming decades. As such, new technologies and undertakings must both provide high quality fossil energy with minimal environmental impacts. The largest and most difficult of these undertakings is carbon management, wherein CO2 emissions are sequestered indefinitely at substantial incremental cost. Geological formations provide both high confidence and high capacity for CO2 storage, but present scientific and technical challenges. Oil and gas supply can be partially sustained and replaced through exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels such as tar-sands, methane hydrates, coal-to-liquids, and oil shales. These fuels provide enormous reserves that can be exploited at current costs, but generally require substantial energy to process. In most cases, the energy return on investment (EROI) is dropping, and unconventional fuels are generally more carbon intensive than conventional, presenting additional carbon management challenges. Ultimately, a large and sustained science and technology program akin to the Apollo project will be needed to address these concerns. Unfortunately, real funding in energy research has dropped dramatically (75%) in the past three decades, and novel designs in fission and fusion are not likely to provide any substantial offset in the next 30 years when they are most needed internationally.

  10. FAST FOSSIL ROTATION OF NEUTRON STAR CORES

    SciTech Connect

    Melatos, A.

    2012-12-10

    It is argued that the superfluid core of a neutron star super-rotates relative to the crust, because stratification prevents the core from responding to the electromagnetic braking torque, until the relevant dissipative (viscous or Eddington-Sweet) timescale, which can exceed {approx}10{sup 3} yr and is much longer than the Ekman timescale, has elapsed. Hence, in some young pulsars, the rotation of the core today is a fossil record of its rotation at birth, provided that magnetic crust-core coupling is inhibited, e.g., by buoyancy, field-line topology, or the presence of uncondensed neutral components in the superfluid. Persistent core super-rotation alters our picture of neutron stars in several ways, allowing for magnetic field generation by ongoing dynamo action and enhanced gravitational wave emission from hydrodynamic instabilities.

  11. Fossil evidence for early hominid tool use.

    PubMed

    Susman, R L

    1994-09-01

    Although several Plio-Pleistocene hominids are found in association with stone and bone tools, it has been generally assumed that at any one time the hominid with the largest brain was the toolmaker. Fossils recovered over the last decade suggest that early hominids subsequent to 2.5 million years ago all might have used tools and occupied "cultural" niches. A test for humanlike precision grasping (the enhanced ability to manipulate tools) is proposed and applied to australopithecines and early Homo. The results indicate that tools were likely to have been used by all early hominids at around 2.0 million years ago. The earliest australopithecines, which predate the appearance of stone tools in the archaeological record, do not show signs of advanced precision grasping. PMID:8079169

  12. Tree-ring δ18O in African mahogany (Entandrophragma utile) records regional precipitation and can be used for climate reconstructions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    van der Sleen, Peter; Groenendijk, Peter; Zuidema, Pieter A.

    2015-04-01

    The availability of instrumental climate data in West and Central Africa is very restricted, both in space and time. This limits the understanding of the regional climate system and the monitoring of climate change and causes a need for proxies that allow the reconstruction of paleoclimatic variability. Here we show that oxygen isotope values (δ18O) in tree rings of Entandrophragma utile from North-western Cameroon correlate to precipitation on a regional to sub-continental scale (1930-2009). All found correlations were negative, following the proposed recording of the 'amount effect' by trees in the tropics. The capacity of E. utile to record the variability of regional precipitation is also confirmed by the significant correlation of tree-ring δ18O with river discharge data (1944-1983), outgoing longwave radiation (a proxy for cloud cover; 1974-2011) and sea surface salinity in the Gulf of Guinea (1950-2011). Furthermore, the high values in the δ18O chronology from 1970 onwards coincide with the Sahel drought period. Given that E. utile presents clear annual growth rings, has a wide-spread distribution in tropical Africa and is long lived (> 250 years), we argue that the analysis of oxygen isotopes in growth rings of this species is a promising tool for the study of paleoclimatic variability during the last centuries in West and Central Africa.

  13. Fossil group origins. VII. Galaxy substructures in fossil systems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zarattini, S.; Girardi, M.; Aguerri, J. A. L.; Boschin, W.; Barrena, R.; del Burgo, C.; Castro-Rodriguez, N.; Corsini, E. M.; D'Onghia, E.; Kundert, A.; Méndez-Abreu, J.; Sánchez-Janssen, R.

    2016-02-01

    Context. Fossil groups (FG) are expected to be the final product of galaxy merging within galaxy groups. In simulations, they are predicted to assemble their mass at high redshift. This early formation allows for the innermost M∗ galaxies to merge into a massive central galaxy. Then, they are expected to maintain their fossil status because of the few interactions with the large-scale structure. In this context, the magnitude gap between the two brightest galaxies of the system is considered a good indicator of its dynamical status. As a consequence, the systems with the largest gaps should be dynamically relaxed. Aims: In order to examine the dynamical status of these systems, we systematically analyze, for the first time, the presence of galaxy substructures in a sample of 12 spectroscopically-confirmed fossil systems with redshift z ≤ 0.25. Methods: We apply a number of tests to investigate the substructure in fossil systems in the two-dimensional space of projected positions out to R200. Moreover, for a subsample of five systems with at least 30 spectroscopically-confirmed members we also analyze the substructure in the velocity and in the three-dimensional velocity-position spaces. Additionally, we look for signs of recent mergers in the regions around the central galaxies. Results: We find that an important fraction of fossil systems show substructure. The fraction depends critically on the adopted test, since each test is more sensitive to a particular type of substructure. Conclusions: Our interpretation of the results is that fossil systems are not, in general, as relaxed as expected from simulations. Our sample of 12 spectroscopically-confirmed fossil systems need to be extended to compute an accurate fraction, but our conclusion is that this fraction is similar to the fraction of substructure detected in nonfossil clusters. This result points out that the magnitude gap alone is not a good indicator of the dynamical status of a system. However, the subsample of five FGs for which we were able to use velocities as a probe for substructures is dominated by high-mass FGs. These massive systems could have a different evolution compared to low-mass FGs, since they are expected to form via the merging of a fossil group with another group of galaxies. This merger would lengthen the relaxation time and it could be responsible for the substructure detected in present-time massive FGs. If this is the case, only low-mass FGs are expected to be dynamically old and relaxed. The redshift catalog is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (ftp://130.79.128.5) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/586/A63

  14. Analysis of gaseous inclusions in fossil resin from a late cretaceous stratigraphic sequence

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bellis, Diane; Wolberg, Donald L.

    1991-12-01

    It is the purpose of this work to analyze the fluids included in the Fossil Forest fossil resin. The fossil resin samples used in this study were collected from the Fruitland Formation (Campanian-Maastrichtian; 76-72 Ma), a sequence of interbedded coals, drab-colored mudstones and claystones, poorly fissile carbonaceous shales, siltstones and sandstone in the Fossil Forest study area located in the west-central San Juan Basin of New Mexico. The resin is found in association with and included in fossilized taxodiaceous wood. The fluids trapped in Late Cretaceous fossil resin have a higher oxygen content that is found in younger samples. The analytical data are presented in a framework devised to differentiate between trapped paleoatmospheres and gases dissolved in the amber matrix. The data suggest that the Late Cretaceous atmosphere had an O 2 content of at least 24%. The gases trapped in fossil resin most likely are not pristine paleoatmosphere. However, fossil resin can record the composition of the atmosphere over the past 120 m.y., the length of the resin record.

  15. First report of fossil "keratose" demosponges in Phanerozoic carbonates: preservation and 3-D reconstruction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Luo, Cui; Reitner, Joachim

    2014-06-01

    Fossil record of Phanerozoic non-spicular sponges, beside of being important with respect to the lineage evolution per se, could provide valuable references for the investigation of Precambrian ancestral animal fossils. However, although modern phylogenomic studies resolve non-spicular demosponges as the sister group of the remaining spiculate demosponges, the fossil record of the former is extremely sparse or unexplored compared to that of the latter; the Middle Cambrian Vauxiidae Walcott 1920, is the only confirmed fossil taxon of non-spicular demosponges. Here, we describe carbonate materials from Devonian (Upper Givetian to Lower Frasnian) bioherms of northern France and Triassic (Anisian) microbialites of Poland that most likely represent fossil remnants of keratose demosponges. These putative fossils of keratose demosponges are preserved as automicritic clumps. They are morphologically distinguishable from microbial fabrics but similar to other spiculate sponge fossils, except that the skeletal elements consist of fibrous networks instead of assembled spicules. Consistent with the immunological behavior of sponges, these fibrous skeletons often form a rim at the edge of the automicritic aggregate, separating the inner part of the aggregate from foreign objects. To confirm the architecture of these fibrous networks, two fossil specimens and a modern thorectid sponge for comparison were processed for three-dimensional (3-D) reconstruction using serial grinding tomography. The resulting fossil reconstructions are three-dimensionally anastomosing, like modern keratose demosponges, but their irregular and nonhierarchical meshes indicate a likely verongid affinity, although a precise taxonomic conclusion cannot be made based on the skeletal architecture alone. This study is a preliminary effort, but an important start to identify fossil non-spicular demosponges in carbonates and to re-evaluate their fossilization potential.

  16. Fossil groups of galaxies: Are they groups? Are they fossils?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dupke, Renato de Alencar; Miller, Eric; de Oliveira, Claudia Mendes; Sodre, Laerte; Rykoff, Eli; de Oliveira, Raimundo Lopes; Proctor, Rob

    2010-11-01

    Fossil groups present a puzzle to current theories of structure formation. Despite the low number of bright galaxies, their high velocity dispersions and high TX indicate cluster-like potential wells. Measured concentration parameters seem very high indicating early formation epochs in contradiction with the observed lack of large and well defined cooling cores. There are very few fossil groups with good quality X-ray data and their idiosyncrasies may enhance these apparent contradictions. The standard explanation for their formation suggests that bright galaxies within half the virial radii of these systems were wiped out by cannibalism forming the central galaxy. Since dry mergers, typically invoked to explain the formation of the central galaxies, are not expected to change the IGM energetics significantly, thus not preventing the formation of cooling cores, we investigate the scenario where recent gaseous (wet) mergers formed the central galaxy injecting energy and changing the chemistry of the IGM in fossil groups. We show a test for this scenario using fossil groups with enough X-ray flux in the Chandra X-ray Observatory archive by looking at individual metal abundance ratio distributions near the core. Secondary SN II powered winds would tend to erase the dominance of SN IA ejecta in the core of these systems and would help to erase previously existing cold cores. Strong SN II-powered galactic winds resulting from galaxy merging would be trapped by their deep potential wells reducing the central enhancement of SN Ia/SN II iron mass fraction ratio. The results indicate that there is a decrement in the ratio of SN Ia to SN II iron mass fraction in the central regions of the systems analyzed, varying from 99±1% in the outer regions to 85±2% within the cooling radius (Figure 1) and would inject enough energy into the IGM preventing central gas cooling. The results are consistent with a scenario of later formation epoch for fossil groups, as they are defined, when compared to galaxy clusters and normal groups.

  17. FOSSIL SPRINGS ROADLESS AREA, ARIZONA.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Beard, L.S.; Ellis, C.E.

    1984-01-01

    Based on field studies, the Fossil Springs Roadless Area in central Arizona is concluded to have little promise for the occurrence of mineral or energy resources. Rocks in the Supai Formation (Pennsylvanian-Permian) near the central part of the roadless area contain widespread but spotty copper mineralization and trace amounts of uranium. Analyses obtained during the study define geochemical anomalies in two portions of the area that remain unexplained. The suites of anomalous metals suggest the possibility of hydrothermal veins and the presence of ultramafic rocks; neither were found in the field. Although there is little promise for the occurrence of mineral resources in the Fossil Springs Roadless Area, studies to identify the source of the geochemical anomalies could have valuable implications for regional studies and mineral exploration in the surrounding area.

  18. Ignoring Authentic African Literature Means Ignoring Africans

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Romano, Carlin

    2005-01-01

    Africa produces imaginative and authentic literature whose texture makes it impossible to think of Africans as statistics. African writers, however have to struggle to get recognized in America due to their culture and other racial and social differences, hence suggesting that efforts should be made to give authentic African literature its due.

  19. Cycads: Fossil evidence of late paleozoic origin

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Mamay, S.H.

    1969-01-01

    Plant fossils from Lower Permian strata of the southwestern United States have been interpreted as cycadalean megasporophylls. They are evidently descended from spermopterid elements of the Pennsylvanian Taeniopteris complex; thus the known fossil history of the cycads is extended from the Late Triassic into the late Paleozoic. Possible implications of the Permian fossils toward evolution of the angiosperm carpel are considered.

  20. Looking at Fossils in New Ways

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Flannery, Maura C.

    2005-01-01

    Existing fossils could be studied from a different prospective with the use of new methods of analysis for gathering more information. The new techniques of studying fossils binds the new and the old techniques and information and provides another way to look at fossils.

  1. Molecular and Fossil Evidence on the Origin of Angiosperms

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Doyle, James A.

    2012-05-01

    Molecular data on relationships within angiosperms confirm the view that their increasing morphological diversity through the Cretaceous reflected their evolutionary radiation. Despite the early appearance of aquatics and groups with simple flowers, the record is consistent with inferences from molecular trees that the first angiosperms were woody plants with pinnately veined leaves, multiparted flowers, uniovulate ascidiate carpels, and columellar monosulcate pollen. Molecular data appear to refute the hypothesis based on morphology that angiosperms and Gnetales are closest living relatives. Morphological analyses of living and fossil seed plants that assume molecular relationships identify glossopterids, Bennettitales, and Caytonia as angiosperm relatives; these results are consistent with proposed homologies between the cupule of glossopterids and Caytonia and the angiosperm bitegmic ovule. Jurassic molecular dates for the angiosperms may be reconciled with the fossil record if the first angiosperms were restricted to wet forest understory habitats and did not radiate until the Cretaceous.

  2. Microbial denitrogenation of fossil fuels.

    PubMed

    Benedik, M J; Gibbs, P R; Riddle, R R; Willson, R C

    1998-09-01

    The microbial degradation of nitrogen compounds from fossil fuels is important because of the contribution these contaminants make to the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hence to air pollution and acid rain. They also contribute to catalyst poisoning during the refining of crude oil, thus reducing process yields. We review the current status of microbial degradation of aromatic nitrogen compounds and discuss the potential of microbial processes to alleviate these problems. PMID:9744113

  3. Erosion patterns and mantle sources of topographic change across the southern African Plateau derived from the shallow and deep records of kimberlites

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stanley, Jessica R.; Flowers, Rebecca M.; Bell, David R.

    2015-09-01

    Flow in the sublithospheric mantle is increasingly invoked as a mechanism to explain both modern and past surface topography, but the importance of this phenomenon and its influence at different localities are debated. Southern Africa is an elevated continental shield proposed to represent dynamically supported topography. However, this region is also characterized by a complex lithospheric architecture variably affected by Cretaceous heating, thinning, and metasomatic alteration. We used apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronometry on 15 Cretaceous kimberlites from an ˜600 km long transect across the Kaapvaal Craton, combined with information from xenoliths in these pipes, to determine the plateau interior erosion history. The goal was to determine the relationships with lithospheric modification patterns and thereby better isolate the sublithospheric contribution to elevation. The results document a wave of erosion from west to east across the craton from ˜120 to <60 Ma, initially focused along paleorivers and then retreating as a scarp across the landscape. This spatially variable erosion event was associated with limited modification of the Archean cratonic lithospheric mantle as recorded by mantle xenoliths and xenocrysts, implying that dynamic buoyancy sources may be required to explain the elevations. In contrast, off-craton to the southwest, a more pronounced regional erosion phase at ˜110-90 Ma was coincident with significant modification of the Proterozoic lithospheric mantle. This relationship suggests that lithospheric processes were more important contributors to erosion and topographic change off-craton than on-craton. Together, these results suggest that lithospheric architecture can have an important control on the surface expression of mantle dynamics.

  4. Early penguin fossils, plus mitochondrial genomes, calibrate avian evolution.

    PubMed

    Slack, Kerryn E; Jones, Craig M; Ando, Tatsuro; Harrison, G L Abby; Fordyce, R Ewan; Arnason, Ulfur; Penny, David

    2006-06-01

    Testing models of macroevolution, and especially the sufficiency of microevolutionary processes, requires good collaboration between molecular biologists and paleontologists. We report such a test for events around the Late Cretaceous by describing the earliest penguin fossils, analyzing complete mitochondrial genomes from an albatross, a petrel, and a loon, and describe the gradual decline of pterosaurs at the same time modern birds radiate. The penguin fossils comprise four naturally associated skeletons from the New Zealand Waipara Greensand, a Paleocene (early Tertiary) formation just above a well-known Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary site. The fossils, in a new genus (Waimanu), provide a lower estimate of 61-62 Ma for the divergence between penguins and other birds and thus establish a reliable calibration point for avian evolution. Combining fossil calibration points, DNA sequences, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian analysis, the penguin calibrations imply a radiation of modern (crown group) birds in the Late Cretaceous. This includes a conservative estimate that modern sea and shorebird lineages diverged at least by the Late Cretaceous about 74 +/- 3 Ma (Campanian). It is clear that modern birds from at least the latest Cretaceous lived at the same time as archaic birds including Hesperornis, Ichthyornis, and the diverse Enantiornithiformes. Pterosaurs, which also coexisted with early crown birds, show notable changes through the Late Cretaceous. There was a decrease in taxonomic diversity, and small- to medium-sized species disappeared well before the end of the Cretaceous. A simple reading of the fossil record might suggest competitive interactions with birds, but much more needs to be understood about pterosaur life histories. Additional fossils and molecular data are still required to help understand the role of biotic interactions in the evolution of Late Cretaceous birds and thus to test that the mechanisms of microevolution are sufficient to explain macroevolution. PMID:16533822

  5. Cancer and African Americans

    MedlinePlus

    ... Population Profiles > Black/African American > Cancer Cancer and African Americans African Americans have the highest mortality rate of ... 65MB] At a glance – Top Cancer Sites for African Americans (2008-2012) Cancer Incidence Rates per 100,000 – ...

  6. An Extraordinary Gobioid Fish Fossil from Southern France

    PubMed Central

    Gierl, Christoph; Reichenbacher, Bettina; Gaudant, Jean; Erpenbeck, Dirk; Pharisat, André

    2013-01-01

    Background The classification of gobioid fishes is still under discussion. Several lineages, including the Eleotridae and Butidae, remain difficult to characterize because synapomorphies are rare (Eleotridae) or have not yet been determined (Butidae). Moreover, the fossil record of these groups is scarce. Results Exceptionally well-preserved fish fossils with otoliths in situ from uppermost Oligocene sediments (≈23–24 Mio. y. ago) in Southern France provide the most in-depth description of a fossil gobioid to date. The species was initially described as Cottus aries Agassiz, then transferred to †Lepidocottus Sauvage, and subsequently assigned to Gobius. Based on a comparative analysis of meristic, osteological and otolith data, this species most likely is a member of the family Butidae. This discovery is important because it represents the first record of a fossil butid fish based on articulated skeletons from Europe. Significance The Butidae and Eleotridae are currently distributed in W-Africa, Madagascar, Asia and Australia, but they do not appear in Europe and also not in the Mediterranean Sea. The new results indicate that several species of the Butidae thrived in Europe during the Oligocene and Early Miocene. Similar to the recent Butidae and Eleotridae, these fishes were adapted to a wide range of salinities and thrived in freshwater, brackish and marginal marine habitats. The fossil Butidae disappeared from Europe and the Mediterranean and Paratethys areas during the Early Miocene, due probably to their lack of competitiveness compared to other Gobioidei that radiated during this period of time. In addition, this study documents the great value of otoliths for gobioid systematics. PMID:23691158

  7. Assessing the role of cladogenesis in macroevolution by integrating fossil and molecular evidence

    PubMed Central

    Strotz, Luke C.; Allen, Andrew P.

    2013-01-01

    Assessing the extent to which population subdivision during cladogenesis is necessary for long-term phenotypic evolution is of fundamental importance in a broad range of biological disciplines. Differentiating cladogenesis from anagenesis, defined as evolution within a species, has generally been hampered by dating precision, insufficient fossil data, and difficulties in establishing a direct link between morphological changes detectable in the fossil record and biological species. Here we quantify the relative frequencies of cladogenesis and anagenesis for macroperforate planktic Foraminifera, which arguably have the most complete fossil record currently available, to address this question. Analyzing this record in light of molecular evidence, while taking into account the precision of fossil dating techniques, we estimate that the fraction of speciation events attributable to anagenesis is <19% during the Cenozoic era (last 65 Myr) and <10% during the Neogene period (last 23 Myr). Our central conclusion—that cladogenesis is the predominant mode by which new planktic Foraminifera taxa become established at macroevolutionary time scales—differs markedly from the conclusion reached in a recent study based solely on fossil data. These disparate findings demonstrate that interpretations of macroevolutionary dynamics in the fossil record can be fundamentally altered in light of genetic evidence. PMID:23378632

  8. Protein molecular data from ancient (>1 million years old) fossil material: pitfalls, possibilities and grand challenges.

    PubMed

    Schweitzer, Mary Higby; Schroeter, Elena R; Goshe, Michael B

    2014-07-15

    Advances in resolution and sensitivity of analytical techniques have provided novel applications, including the analyses of fossil material. However, the recovery of original proteinaceous components from very old fossil samples (defined as >1 million years (1 Ma) from previously named limits in the literature) is far from trivial. Here, we discuss the challenges to recovery of proteinaceous components from fossils, and the need for new sample preparation techniques, analytical methods, and bioinformatics to optimize and fully utilize the great potential of information locked in the fossil record. We present evidence for survival of original components across geological time, and discuss the potential benefits of recovery, analyses, and interpretation of fossil materials older than 1 Ma, both within and outside of the fields of evolutionary biology. PMID:24983800

  9. The First Report on the Medicinal Use of Fossils in Latin America

    PubMed Central

    Moura, Geraldo Jorge Barbosa; Albuquerque, Ulysses Paulino

    2012-01-01

    There have been very few ethnopharmacological studies performed on the traditional use of fossil species, although a few records have been conducted in Asia, Africa, and Europe. This study is the first ever to be performed on the use of Testudine (turtle) fossils for folk medicine in Latin America. An investigation was conducted in the Araripe Basin, which is one of the most important fossil-bearing reserves in the world due to the diversity, endemism, and quality of preservation of its fossils. We propose the formalization of a new discipline called ethnopaleontology, which will involve the study of the dynamic relationship between humans and fossils, from human perception to direct use. PMID:21969843

  10. Morphometric analysis of chameleon fossil fragments from the Early Pliocene of South Africa: a new piece of the chamaeleonid history.

    PubMed

    Dollion, Alexis Y; Cornette, Raphaël; Tolley, Krystal A; Boistel, Renaud; Euriat, Adelaïde; Boller, Elodie; Fernandez, Vincent; Stynder, Deano; Herrel, Anthony

    2015-02-01

    The evolutionary history of chameleons has been predominantly studied through phylogenetic approaches as the fossil register of chameleons is limited and fragmented. The poor state of preservation of these fossils has moreover led to the origin of numerous nomen dubia, and the identification of many chameleon fossils remains uncertain. We here examine chameleon fossil fragments from the Early Pliocene Varswater formation, exposed at the locality of Langebaanweg "E" Quarry along the southwestern coast of South Africa. Our aim was to explore whether these fossil fragments could be assigned to extant genera. To do so, we used geometric morphometric approaches based on microtomographic imaging of extant chameleons as well as the fossil fragments themselves. Our study suggests that the fossils from this deposit most likely represent at least two different forms that may belong to different genera. Most fragments are phenotypically dissimilar from the South African endemic genus Bradypodion and are more similar to other chameleon genera such as Trioceros or Kinyongia. However, close phenetic similarities between some of the fragments and the Seychelles endemic Archaius or the Madagascan genus Furcifer suggest that some of these fragments may not contain enough genus-specific information to allow correct identification. Other fragments such as the parietal fragments appear to contain more genus-specific information, however. Although our data suggest that the fossil diversity of chameleons in South Africa was potentially greater than it is today, this remains to be verified based on other and more complete fragments. PMID:25604737

  11. Morphometric analysis of chameleon fossil fragments from the Early Pliocene of South Africa: a new piece of the chamaeleonid history

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dollion, Alexis Y.; Cornette, Raphaël; Tolley, Krystal A.; Boistel, Renaud; Euriat, Adelaïde; Boller, Elodie; Fernandez, Vincent; Stynder, Deano; Herrel, Anthony

    2015-02-01

    The evolutionary history of chameleons has been predominantly studied through phylogenetic approaches as the fossil register of chameleons is limited and fragmented. The poor state of preservation of these fossils has moreover led to the origin of numerous nomen dubia, and the identification of many chameleon fossils remains uncertain. We here examine chameleon fossil fragments from the Early Pliocene Varswater formation, exposed at the locality of Langebaanweg "E" Quarry along the southwestern coast of South Africa. Our aim was to explore whether these fossil fragments could be assigned to extant genera. To do so, we used geometric morphometric approaches based on microtomographic imaging of extant chameleons as well as the fossil fragments themselves. Our study suggests that the fossils from this deposit most likely represent at least two different forms that may belong to different genera. Most fragments are phenotypically dissimilar from the South African endemic genus Bradypodion and are more similar to other chameleon genera such as Trioceros or Kinyongia. However, close phenetic similarities between some of the fragments and the Seychelles endemic Archaius or the Madagascan genus Furcifer suggest that some of these fragments may not contain enough genus-specific information to allow correct identification. Other fragments such as the parietal fragments appear to contain more genus-specific information, however. Although our data suggest that the fossil diversity of chameleons in South Africa was potentially greater than it is today, this remains to be verified based on other and more complete fragments.

  12. Regional diversity patterns in African bovids, hyaenids, and felids during the past 3 million years: the role of taphonomic bias and implications for the evolution of Paranthropus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Patterson, David B.; Faith, J. Tyler; Bobe, René; Wood, Bernard

    2014-07-01

    Reconstructing patterns of Plio-Pleistocene mammalian faunal exchange between eastern and southern Africa may help us to better understand patterns of evolution within the hominin clade. However, differences in geological context, taphonomic history and collection methods, as well as a lack of a precise chronology in one of the regions, complicate attempts to compare the faunas of the two regions, but access to new comprehensive datasets encouraged us to re-examine this critical time period in the African paleontological record. In this study, we examine the biogeographic histories of three terrestrial African mammalian families whose fossil records span the past 3 million years to test hypotheses related to the evolutionary history of the hominin genus Paranthropus. We used presence/absence data for 117 species from 38 genera within the family Bovidae and 34 species from 15 genera within the families Hyaenidae and Felidae from 52 eastern African and 40 southern African fossil localities. These assemblages were placed into 500 ka time slices and compared at both the genus and species level using the Jaccard index of faunal similarity. Our findings indicate that sampling biases have more effect on the patterns of interchange between eastern and southern African Bovidae than they do the patterns of interchange seen in the Hyaenidae and Felidae. However, even when these biases are taken into account there are persistent differences in the degree of interchange within and between these families. These findings suggest that mammalian groups (including hominins) can have very different histories of exchange between eastern and southern Africa over the past 3 million years. There is no a priori reason why any of the three families we examined is a suitable proxy for the eastern and southern African hyper-megadont and megadont hominin taxa presently included in Paranthropus, but of the three we suggest that the Bovidae is likely to come closest to being an appropriate proxy. The results of this comparative study are consistent with relatively independent evolutionary trajectories in the two regions for the hominins that are presently included in the genus Paranthropus.

  13. New Miocene Fossils and the History of Penguins in Australia.

    PubMed

    Park, Travis; Fitzgerald, Erich M G; Gallagher, Stephen J; Tomkins, Ellyn; Allan, Tony

    2016-01-01

    Australia has a fossil record of penguins reaching back to the Eocene, yet today is inhabited by just one breeding species, the little penguin Eudyptula minor. The description of recently collected penguin fossils from the re-dated upper Miocene Port Campbell Limestone of Portland (Victoria), in addition to reanalysis of previously described material, has allowed the Cenozoic history of penguins in Australia to be placed into a global context for the first time. Australian pre-Quaternary fossil penguins represent stem taxa phylogenetically disparate from each other and E. minor, implying multiple dispersals and extinctions. Late Eocene penguins from Australia are closest to contemporaneous taxa in Antarctica, New Zealand and South America. Given current material, the Miocene Australian fossil penguin fauna is apparently unique in harbouring 'giant penguins' after they went extinct elsewhere; and including stem taxa until at least 6 Ma, by which time crown penguins dominated elsewhere in the southern hemisphere. Separation of Australia from Antarctica during the Palaeogene, and its subsequent drift north, appears to have been a major event in Australian penguin biogeography. Increasing isolation through the Cenozoic may have limited penguin dispersal to Australia from outside the Australasian region, until intensification of the eastwards-flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the mid-Miocene established a potential new dispersal vector to Australia. PMID:27115739

  14. New Miocene Fossils and the History of Penguins in Australia

    PubMed Central

    Park, Travis; Fitzgerald, Erich M. G.; Gallagher, Stephen J.; Tomkins, Ellyn; Allan, Tony

    2016-01-01

    Australia has a fossil record of penguins reaching back to the Eocene, yet today is inhabited by just one breeding species, the little penguin Eudyptula minor. The description of recently collected penguin fossils from the re-dated upper Miocene Port Campbell Limestone of Portland (Victoria), in addition to reanalysis of previously described material, has allowed the Cenozoic history of penguins in Australia to be placed into a global context for the first time. Australian pre-Quaternary fossil penguins represent stem taxa phylogenetically disparate from each other and E. minor, implying multiple dispersals and extinctions. Late Eocene penguins from Australia are closest to contemporaneous taxa in Antarctica, New Zealand and South America. Given current material, the Miocene Australian fossil penguin fauna is apparently unique in harbouring ‘giant penguins’ after they went extinct elsewhere; and including stem taxa until at least 6 Ma, by which time crown penguins dominated elsewhere in the southern hemisphere. Separation of Australia from Antarctica during the Palaeogene, and its subsequent drift north, appears to have been a major event in Australian penguin biogeography. Increasing isolation through the Cenozoic may have limited penguin dispersal to Australia from outside the Australasian region, until intensification of the eastwards-flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the mid-Miocene established a potential new dispersal vector to Australia. PMID:27115739

  15. Dinosaur fossils predict body temperatures.

    PubMed

    Gillooly, James F; Allen, Andrew P; Charnov, Eric L

    2006-07-01

    Perhaps the greatest mystery surrounding dinosaurs concerns whether they were endotherms, ectotherms, or some unique intermediate form. Here we present a model that yields estimates of dinosaur body temperature based on ontogenetic growth trajectories obtained from fossil bones. The model predicts that dinosaur body temperatures increased with body mass from approximately 25 degrees C at 12 kg to approximately 41 degrees C at 13,000 kg. The model also successfully predicts observed increases in body temperature with body mass for extant crocodiles. These results provide direct evidence that dinosaurs were reptiles that exhibited inertial homeothermy. PMID:16817695

  16. Fossils of hydrothermal vent worms from Cretaceous sulfide ores of the Samail ophiolite, Oman

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Haymon, R.M.; Koski, R.A.; Sinclair, C.

    1984-01-01

    Fossil worm tubes of Cretaceous age preserved in the Bayda massive sulfide deposit of the Samail ophiolite, Oman, are apparently the first documented examples of fossils embedded in massive sulfide deposits from the geologic record. The geologic setting of the Bayda deposit and the distinctive mineralogic and textural features of the fossiliferous samples suggest that the Bayda sulfide deposit and fossil fauna are remnants of a Cretaceous sea-floor hydrothermal vent similar to modern hot springs on the East Pacific Rise and the Juan de Fuca Ridge.

  17. Fossils and living taxa agree on patterns of body mass evolution: a case study with Afrotheria.

    PubMed

    Puttick, Mark N; Thomas, Gavin H

    2015-12-22

    Most of life is extinct, so incorporating some fossil evidence into analyses of macroevolution is typically seen as necessary to understand the diversification of life and patterns of morphological evolution. Here we test the effects of inclusion of fossils in a study of the body size evolution of afrotherian mammals, a clade that includes the elephants, sea cows and elephant shrews. We find that the inclusion of fossil tips has little impact on analyses of body mass evolution; from a small ancestral size (approx. 100 g), there is a shift in rate and an increase in mass leading to the larger-bodied Paenungulata and Tubulidentata, regardless of whether fossils are included or excluded from analyses. For Afrotheria, the inclusion of fossils and morphological character data affect phylogenetic topology, but these differences have little impact upon patterns of body mass evolution and these body mass evolutionary patterns are consistent with the fossil record. The largest differences between our analyses result from the evolutionary model, not the addition of fossils. For some clades, extant-only analyses may be reliable to reconstruct body mass evolution, but the addition of fossils and careful model selection is likely to increase confidence and accuracy of reconstructed macroevolutionary patterns. PMID:26674947

  18. Fossil wood from the Miocene and Oligocene epoch: chemistry and morphology.

    PubMed

    Bardet, Michel; Pournou, Anastasia

    2015-01-01

    Fossil wood is the naturally preserved remain of the secondary xylem of plants that lived before the Holocene epoch. Typically, fossil wood is preserved as coalified or petrified and rarely as mummified tissue. The process of fossilization is very complex and it is still unknown why in the same fossil record, wood can be found in different fossilisation forms. In 2007, a fossil forest was found in the Bükkábrány open-pit coal mine in Hungary. The non-petrified forest is estimated to be 7 million years old (Miocene epoch) and its trees were found standing in an upright position. This fossil assemblage is exceptionally rare because wood has been preserved as soft waterlogged tissue. This study aimed to investigate this remarkable way of fossil wood preservation, by examining its chemistry with (13)C CPMAS NMR and its morphology with light and electron microscopy. For comparison reasons, a petrified wood trunk from the Oligocene epoch (30 Myr) found in 2001 at Porrentruy region in Switzerland and two fresh wood samples of the modern equivalents of the Miocene sample were also examined. The results obtained showed that the outstanding preservation state of the Miocene fossil is not owed to petrification or coalification. Mummification is a potential mechanism that could explain Bükkábrány trunks' condition, however this fossilisation process is not well studied and therefore this hypothesis needs to be further investigated. PMID:25294390

  19. Fossils and living taxa agree on patterns of body mass evolution: a case study with Afrotheria

    PubMed Central

    Puttick, Mark N.; Thomas, Gavin H.

    2015-01-01

    Most of life is extinct, so incorporating some fossil evidence into analyses of macroevolution is typically seen as necessary to understand the diversification of life and patterns of morphological evolution. Here we test the effects of inclusion of fossils in a study of the body size evolution of afrotherian mammals, a clade that includes the elephants, sea cows and elephant shrews. We find that the inclusion of fossil tips has little impact on analyses of body mass evolution; from a small ancestral size (approx. 100 g), there is a shift in rate and an increase in mass leading to the larger-bodied Paenungulata and Tubulidentata, regardless of whether fossils are included or excluded from analyses. For Afrotheria, the inclusion of fossils and morphological character data affect phylogenetic topology, but these differences have little impact upon patterns of body mass evolution and these body mass evolutionary patterns are consistent with the fossil record. The largest differences between our analyses result from the evolutionary model, not the addition of fossils. For some clades, extant-only analyses may be reliable to reconstruct body mass evolution, but the addition of fossils and careful model selection is likely to increase confidence and accuracy of reconstructed macroevolutionary patterns. PMID:26674947

  20. The fossil record of evolution: Data on diversification and extinction

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sepkoski, J. John, Jr.

    1990-01-01

    The two principle efforts include: (1) a compilation of a synoptic, mesoscale data base on times of origination and extinction of animal genera in the oceans over the last 600 million years of geologic time; and (2) an analysis of statistical patterns in these data that relate to the diversification of complex life and to the occurrence of mass extinctions, especially those that might be associated with extraterrestrial phenomena. The data base is unique in its taxonomic scope and detail and in its temporal resolution. It is a valuable resource for investigating evolutionary expansions and extinctions of complex life.

  1. Cell symbioisis theory: Status and implications for the fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Margulis, L.; Stolz, J. F.

    Although the entire serial endosymbiotic theory has not been proven much progress has been made and the nature of the remaining critical observations can be now identified. There is little doubt that, regardless of the precise details, prokaryotes are single genomic systems and all eukaryotic cells are multigenomic ones. Eukaryotic cells are therefore best thought of as co-evolved microbial communities, entities that emerged as the symbiotic partnerships became tightly integrated by the late Late Proterozoic Aeon. Present address: Control and Energy Conversion Division, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, U.S.A.

  2. The Fossil Record of Plant-Insect Dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Labandeira, Conrad C.; Currano, Ellen D.

    2013-05-01

    Progress toward understanding the dynamics of ancient plant-insect associations has addressed major patterns in the ecology and evolution of herbivory and pollination. This advancement involves development of more analytical ways of describing plant-insect associational patterns in time and space and an assessment of the role that the environment and internal biological processes have in their control. Current issues include the deep origins of terrestrial herbivory, the spread of herbivory across late Paleozoic landscapes, recoveries from sudden major crises, reaction to and accommodation of protracted environmental perturbations, and the nature of herbivory and pollination before the appearance of angiosperms during the mid-Mesozoic. These and other exploratory research themes provide a more complete account of a great nexus of ecological activity that has been wedged between the two most diverse organismic groups on land for the past 410 million years.

  3. Replaying evolutionary transitions from the dental fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Harjunmaa, Enni; Seidel, Kerstin; Häkkinen, Teemu; Renvoisé, Elodie; Corfe, Ian J.; Kallonen, Aki; Zhang, Zhao-Qun; Evans, Alistair R.; Mikkola, Marja L.; Salazar-Ciudad, Isaac; Klein, Ophir D.; Jernvall, Jukka

    2014-01-01

    The evolutionary relationships of extinct species are ascertained primarily through the analysis of morphological characters. Character inter-dependencies can have a substantial effect on evolutionary interpretations, but the developmental underpinnings of character inter-dependence remain obscure because experiments frequently do not provide detailed resolution of morphological characters. Here we show experimentally and computationally how gradual modification of development differentially affects characters in the mouse dentition. We found that intermediate phenotypes could be produced by gradually adding ectodysplasin A (EDA) protein in culture to tooth explants carrying a null mutation in the tooth-patterning gene Eda. By identifying development-based character interdependencies, we show how to predict morphological patterns of teeth among mammalian species. Finally, in vivo inhibition of sonic hedgehog signalling in Eda null teeth enabled us to reproduce characters deep in the rodent ancestry. Taken together, evolutionarily informative transitions can be experimentally reproduced, thereby providing development-based expectations for character state transitions used in evolutionary studies. PMID:25079326

  4. APOGEE strings: A fossil record of the gas kinematic structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hacar, A.; Alves, J.; Forbrich, J.; Meingast, S.; Kubiak, K.; Großschedl, J.

    2016-04-01

    We compare APOGEE radial velocities (RVs) of young stars in the Orion A cloud with CO line gas emission and find a correlation between the two at large scales in agreement with previous studies. However, at smaller scales we find evidence for the presence of a substructure in the stellar velocity field. Using a friends-of-friends approach we identify 37 stellar groups with almost identical RVs. These groups are not randomly distributed, but form elongated chains or strings of stars with five or more members with low velocity dispersion across lengths of 1-1.5 pc. The similarity between the kinematic properties of the APOGEE strings and the internal velocity field of the chains of dense cores and fibers recently identified in the dense interstellar medium is striking and suggests that for most of the Orion A cloud, young stars keep memory of the parental gas substructure where they originated. Full Table 2 is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (ftp://130.79.128.5) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/589/A80

  5. Climatic influences on species: Evidence from the fossil record

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Cronin, T. M.; Schneider, C.E.

    1990-01-01

    The detailed Neogene and Quaternary paleoclimatic reconstructions now available provide a means to test how species respond to environmental change. Paleontologic studies of marine organisms show that climatic change causes evolution (via cladogenesis and anagenesis), ecophenotypic variation, migration, morphologic stasis and extinction. Evolution during climatic change is a rare event relative to the number of climatic cycles that have occurred, but climate-related environmental barriers, usually temperature, may play an important role in the isolation of populations during allopatric speciation.

  6. The evolution of tetrapod ears and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Clack, J A

    1997-01-01

    In the earliest tetrapods, the fenestra vestibuli was a large hole in the braincase wall bounded by bones of different embryological origins: the otic capsule and occipital arch components, and also, in all except the Devonian Acanthostega, the dermal parasphenoid. This means that the hole lay along the line of the embryonic metotic fissure. Early tetrapod braincases were poorly ossified internally, and no specialized opening for a perilymphatic duct is evident. It is arguable that the earliest tetrapods had neither a perilympllatic duct crossing the otic capsule nor a specialized auditory receptor in a separate lagenar pouch. The primitive tetrapod condition is found in the earliest amniotes, and the separate development of (1) a fenestra vestibuli confined to the limits of the otic capsule, (2) a specialized pressure relief window also derived from components on the line of the metolic fissure, (3) a nonstructural, vibratory stapes and (4) increased internal ossification of the internal walls of the otic capsule, can be traced separately in synapsids, lepidosauromorph diapsids, archosauromorph diapsids, probably turtles, and amphibians. This suggests separate development of true tympanic ears in each of these groups. Developments indicating the existence of a true tympanic ear in amniotes are first found in animals from the Triassic period, and a correlation with the evolution of insect sound production is suggested. PMID:9310195

  7. Cell symbiosis theory - Status and implications for the fossil record

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Margulis, L.; Stolz, J. F.

    1984-01-01

    Smith (1981) has presented three alternative models of the origin of eukaryotes. In the present investigation, alternative theories are discussed along with the status of serial endosymbiotic theory. It is pointed out that the usefulness of the serial endosymbiotic theory is attested by the great flourishing of productive scientific studies it has generated. Attention is given to the origin of mitochondria and plastids from free-living bacteria, the polyphyly of mitochondria, the origin of the nuclear membrane, the origin of undulipodia (cilia and other 9 + 2 organelles), the sequence of acquisition of organelles, large ribosomes, genome organization, animals and plants, and systematics and axonomy of the microorganisms.

  8. Fossil energy program. Summary document

    SciTech Connect

    1980-05-01

    This program summary document presents a comprehensive overview of the research, development, and demonstration (RD and D) activities that will be performed in FY 1981 by the Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy (ASFE), US Department of Energy (DOE). The ASFE technology programs for the fossil resources of coal, petroleum (including oil shale) and gas have been established with the goal of making substantive contributions to the nation's future supply and efficienty use of energy. On April 29, 1977, the Administration submitted to Congress the National Energy Plan (NEP) and accompanying legislative proposals designed to establish a coherent energy policy structure for the United States. Congress passed the National Energy Act (NEA) on October 15, 1978, which allows implementation of the vital parts of the NEP. The NEP was supplemented by additional energy policy statements culminating in the President's address on July 15, 1979, presenting a program to further reduce dependence on imported petroleum. The passage of the NEA-related energy programs represent specific steps by the Administration and Congress to reorganize, redirect, and clarify the role of the Federal Government in the formulation and execution of national energy policy and programs. The energy technology RD and D prog4rams carried out by ASFE are an important part of the Federal Government's effort to provide the combination and amounts of energy resources needed to ensure national security and continued economic growth.

  9. Infant Mortality and African Americans

    MedlinePlus

    ... African American > Infant Heath & Mortality Infant Mortality and African Americans African Americans have 2.2 times the infant mortality rate ... birthweight as compared to non-Hispanic white infants. African Americans had almost twice the sudden infant death syndrome ...

  10. Fossils, molecules and embryos: new perspectives on the Cambrian explosion.

    PubMed

    Valentine, J W; Jablonski, D; Erwin, D H

    1999-02-01

    The Cambrian explosion is named for the geologically sudden appearance of numerous metazoan body plans (many of living phyla) between about 530 and 520 million years ago, only 1.7% of the duration of the fossil record of animals. Earlier indications of metazoans are found in the Neoproterozic; minute trails suggesting bilaterian activity date from about 600 million years ago. Larger and more elaborate fossil burrows appear near 543 million years ago, the beginning of the Cambrian Period. Evidence of metazoan activity in both trace and body fossils then increased during the 13 million years leading to the explosion. All living phyla may have originated by the end of the explosion. Molecular divergences among lineages leading to phyla record speciation events that have been earlier than the origins of the new body plans, which can arise many tens of millions of years after an initial branching. Various attempts to date those branchings by using molecular clocks have disagreed widely. While the timing of the evolution of the developmental systems of living metazoan body plans is still uncertain, the distribution of Hox and other developmental control genes among metazoans indicates that an extensive patterning system was in place prior to the Cambrian. However, it is likely that much genomic repatterning occurred during the Early Cambrian, involving both key control genes and regulators within their downstream cascades, as novel body plans evolved. PMID:9927587

  11. Fossils, molecules and embryos: new perspectives on the Cambrian explosion

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Valentine, J. W.; Jablonski, D.; Erwin, D. H.

    1999-01-01

    The Cambrian explosion is named for the geologically sudden appearance of numerous metazoan body plans (many of living phyla) between about 530 and 520 million years ago, only 1.7% of the duration of the fossil record of animals. Earlier indications of metazoans are found in the Neoproterozic; minute trails suggesting bilaterian activity date from about 600 million years ago. Larger and more elaborate fossil burrows appear near 543 million years ago, the beginning of the Cambrian Period. Evidence of metazoan activity in both trace and body fossils then increased during the 13 million years leading to the explosion. All living phyla may have originated by the end of the explosion. Molecular divergences among lineages leading to phyla record speciation events that have been earlier than the origins of the new body plans, which can arise many tens of millions of years after an initial branching. Various attempts to date those branchings by using molecular clocks have disagreed widely. While the timing of the evolution of the developmental systems of living metazoan body plans is still uncertain, the distribution of Hox and other developmental control genes among metazoans indicates that an extensive patterning system was in place prior to the Cambrian. However, it is likely that much genomic repatterning occurred during the Early Cambrian, involving both key control genes and regulators within their downstream cascades, as novel body plans evolved.

  12. Understanding fossilization: Experimental pyritization of plants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grimes, Stephen T.; Brock, Fiona; Rickard, David; Davies, Kevin L.; Edwards, Dianne; Briggs, Derek E. G.; Parkes, R. John

    2001-02-01

    The process of fossilization is poorly understood. However, it is central to our understanding of the evolution of life. It is unclear how plant tissues become fossilized, whether fossilization is selective to specific biopolymers, or whether original organic constituents survive. We have replicated the fossilization process in the laboratory by using both microbial and chemical approaches to pyritize plant debris. These results demonstrate that initial pyritization can be an extremely rapid process (within 80 days) and is driven by anaerobic bacterial-mediated decay. Initially, pyrite precipitates on and within plant cell walls and in the spaces between them. Further decay and infilling at all scales preserves broad cellular anatomy. The results have implications for fossilization in general and the fidelity of the taxonomic and biomolecular information preserved in fossils.

  13. African trypanosomiasis.

    PubMed

    Maudlin, I

    2006-12-01

    Trypanosomiasis remains one of the most serious constraints to economic development in sub-Saharan Africa and, as a consequence, related research has been subject to strong social and political as well as scientific influences. The epidemics of sleeping sickness that occurred at the turn of the 20th Century focussed res