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Sample records for african fossil record

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The early eukaryotic fossil record.

    PubMed

    Javaux, Emmanuelle J

    2007-01-01

    The Precambrian era records the evolution of the domain Eucarya. Although the taxonomy of fossils is often impossible to resolve beyond the level of domain, their morphology and chemistry indicate the evolution of major biological innovations. The late Archean record for eukaryotes is limited to trace amounts of biomarkers. Morphological evidence appears in late Paleoproterozoic and early Mesoproterozoic (1800-1300 Ma) rocks. The moderate diversity of preservable eukaryotic organisms includes cell walls without surface ornament (but with complex ultrastructure), with regularly distributed surface ornamentation, and with irregularly or regularly arranged processes. Collectively, these fossils suggest that eukaryotes with flexible membranes and cytoskeletons existed in mid-Proterozoic oceans. The late Mesoproterozoic-early Neoproterozoic (1300-750 Ma) is a time of diversification and evolution when direct evidence for important biological innovations occurs in the fossil record such as multicellularity, sex, photosynthesis, biomineralization, predation, and heterotrophy. Members of extant clades can be recognized and include bangiophyte red algae, xanthophyte algae, cladophorale green algae, euglyphid, lobose, and filose amoebae and possible fungi. In the late Neoproterozoic, besides more diversification of ornamented fossils, florideophyte red algae and brown algae diversify, and animals take the stage. The record of biological innovations documented by the fossils shows that eukaryotes had evolved most cytological and molecular complexities very early in the Proterozoic but environmental conditions delayed their diversification within clades until oxygen level and predation pressure increased significantly. PMID:17977455

  5. African fossil tali: further multivariate morphometric studies.

    PubMed

    Lisowski, F P; Albrecht, G H

    1976-07-01

    Analysis of measurements from the tali of 21 individual fossil primates from Africa shows that the specimens fall into five clearly defined groups. Accordingly, these specimens have been included as groups along with extant species in a subsequent canonical analysis thus allowing the fossils to play their part in the determination of the canonical separations. The results of this procedure show that the five fossil groups lie in a part of the canonical space not occupied by any extant African primate. Their positions are between the envelope of Asiatic apes (Hylobates and Pongo) and the envelope of African forms near the edge which contains Pan and Papio. One fossil group is so similar to Hylobates that its talus may have functioned in locomotion in a parallel manner. Others lie near to Pongo in directions proceeding towards Pan and Papio and it is possible that this similarity may indicate remnants of morphological adaptation for climbing in these fossils. At the same time, however, individual specimens are closer to one or another of the extant groups and this considerable spread suggests that the locomotor adaptations as evidenced by talar morphology, of the primate fauna in Africa, may have been very different from those of the present day. This would not the inconsistent with the different habitats, floras and non-primate faunas that may have characterized the East African scene at these earlier times. Particular fossils from Olduvai and Kromdraai that are supposed to be australopithecine and therefore bipeds, are confirmed (Oxnard, '72; Lisowski et al., '74) as being totally different from man in their talar morphology and essentially rather similar to the majority of the other fossil tali examined. PMID:961834

  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. Reconciling molecular phylogenies with the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Morlon, Hélène; Parsons, Todd L; Plotkin, Joshua B

    2011-09-27

    Historical patterns of species diversity inferred from phylogenies typically contradict the direct evidence found in the fossil record. According to the fossil record, species frequently go extinct, and many clades experience periods of dramatic diversity loss. However, most analyses of molecular phylogenies fail to identify any periods of declining diversity, and they typically infer low levels of extinction. This striking inconsistency between phylogenies and fossils limits our understanding of macroevolution, and it undermines our confidence in phylogenetic inference. Here, we show that realistic extinction rates and diversity trajectories can be inferred from molecular phylogenies. To make this inference, we derive an analytic expression for the likelihood of a phylogeny that accommodates scenarios of declining diversity, time-variable rates, and incomplete sampling; we show that this likelihood expression reliably detects periods of diversity loss using simulation. We then study the cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), a group for which standard phylogenetic inferences are strikingly inconsistent with fossil data. When the cetacean phylogeny is considered as a whole, recently radiating clades, such as the Balaneopteridae, Delphinidae, Phocoenidae, and Ziphiidae, mask the signal of extinctions. However, when isolating these groups, we infer diversity dynamics that are consistent with the fossil record. These results reconcile molecular phylogenies with fossil data, and they suggest that most extant cetaceans arose from four recent radiations, with a few additional species arising from clades that have been in decline over the last ~10 Myr. PMID:21930899

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  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

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. Rates of speciation in the fossil record.

    PubMed Central

    Sepkoski, J J

    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. PMID:11541734

  15. 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

  16. Aestivation in the fossil record: evidence from ichnology.

    PubMed

    Hembree, Daniel I

    2010-01-01

    Aestivation is a physiological and behavioral response to high temperature or low moisture conditions. Therefore, it is typically not considered to be capable of being preserved in the fossil record. However, most aestivating organisms produce a burrow to protect themselves from the harmful environmental conditions that trigger aestivation. These structures can be preserved in the rock record as trace fossils. While trace fossils are abundant in the continental fossil record, few are definitively associated with aestivation. Interpreting aestivation behavior from fossil burrows requires a detailed examination and interpretation of the surrounding sedimentary rocks and comparisons with taxonomically and ecologically similar extant organisms. Currently, only four types of aestivation structures are recognized in the fossil record: Pleistocene earthworm chambers, Devonian to Cretaceous lungfish burrows, Permian lysorophid burrows, and Permian to Triassic dicynodont burrows. The trace fossil evidence suggests that aestivation evolved independently among continental organisms in several clades during the middle to late Paleozoic.

  17. 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.

  18. Special Creation and the Fossil Record: The Central Fallacy.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Miller, Kenneth R.

    1982-01-01

    Fossil records are used to point out two major flaws in the scientific creationist theory: (1) factual evidence does not support the theory, and (2) the creationists' own characterization of the fossil record contradicts their theory. Claims that creationists avoid discussing specifics about their model because of weaknesses. (DC)

  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.

  20. The reconstructed evolutionary process with the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Didier, Gilles; Royer-Carenzi, Manuela; Laurin, Michel

    2012-12-21

    Using the fossil record yields more detailed reconstructions of the evolutionary process than what is obtained from contemporary lineages only. In this work, we present a stochastic process modeling not only speciation and extinction, but also fossil finds. Next, we derive an explicit formula for the likelihood of a reconstructed phylogeny with fossils, which can be used to estimate the speciation and extinction rates. Finally, we provide a comparative simulation-based evaluation of the accuracy of estimations of these rates from complete phylogenies (including extinct lineages), from reconstructions with contemporary lineages only and from reconstructions with contemporary lineages and the fossil record. Results show that taking the fossil record into account yields more accurate estimates of speciation and extinction rates than considering only contemporary lineages.

  1. Variation in enamel development of South African fossil hominids.

    PubMed

    Lacruz, Rodrigo S; Rozzi, Fernando Ramirez; Bromage, Timothy G

    2006-12-01

    Dental tissues provide important insights into aspects of hominid palaeobiology that are otherwise difficult to obtain from studies of the bony skeleton. Tooth enamel is formed by ameloblasts, which demonstrate daily secretory rhythms developing tissue-specific structures known as cross striations, and longer period markings called striae of Retzius. These enamel features were studied in the molars of two well known South African hominid species, Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. Using newly developed portable confocal microscopy, we have obtained cross striation periodicities (number of cross striations between adjacent striae) for the largest sample of hominid teeth reported to date. These data indicate a mean periodicity of seven days in these small-bodied hominids. Important differences were observed in the inferred mechanisms of enamel development between these taxa. Ameloblasts maintain high rates of differentiation throughout cervical enamel development in P. robustus but not in A. africanus. In our sample, there were fewer lateral striae of Retzius in P. robustus than in A. africanus. In a molar of P. robustus, lateral enamel formed in a much shorter time than cuspal enamel, and the opposite was observed in two molars of A. africanus. In spite of the greater occlusal area and enamel thickness of the molars of both fossil species compared with modern humans, the total crown formation time of these three fossil molars was shorter than the corresponding tooth type in modern humans. Our results provide support for previous conclusions that molar crown formation time was short in Plio-Pleistocene hominids, and strongly suggest the presence of different mechanisms of amelogenesis, and thus tooth development, in these taxa.

  2. 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.

  3. 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)

  4. Appositional enamel growth in molars of South African fossil hominids.

    PubMed

    Lacruz, Rodrigo S; Bromage, Timothy G

    2006-07-01

    Enamel is formed incrementally by the secretory activity of ameloblast cells. Variable stages of secretion result in the formation of structures known as cross striations along enamel prisms, for which experimental data demonstrate a correspondence with daily periods of secretion. Patterns of variation in this daily growth are important to understanding mechanisms of tooth formation and the development of enamel thickness. Transmitted light microscopy (TLM) of histological ground sections and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of bulk specimens or their surface replicas are the usual methods for investigating cross striations. However, these methods pose some constraints on the study of these features in Plio-Pleistocene hominid enamel, the specimens of which may only rarely be sectioned for TLM or examined on only their most superficial surfaces for SEM. The recent development of portable confocal scanning optical microscopy (PCSOM) resolves some of the restrictions on fractured enamel surfaces, allowing the visualization of cross striations by direct examination. This technology has been applied here to the study of Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus hominid molars from the Plio-Pleistocene of South Africa. We hypothesize that these taxa have increased enamel appositional rates compared with modern humans, because despite having thicker enamelled molars (particularly P. robustus), the enamel crowns of these fossil taxa take an equivalent or reduced amount of time to form. Cross striations were measured in cuspal, lateral and cervical regions of the enamel crowns, and, within each region, the inner, middle and outer zones. Values obtained for A. africanus outer zones of the enamel crown are, in general, lower than those for P. robustus, indicating faster forming enamel in the latter, while both taxa show higher rates of enamel growth than modern humans and the African great apes. This demonstrates a relatively high degree of variability in the

  5. 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)

  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. Absolute measures of the completeness of the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Foote, M; Sepkoski, J J

    1999-04-01

    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.

  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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Testing New Proxies for Photosymbiosis in the Fossil Record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tornabene, C.; Martindale, R. C.; Schaller, M. F.

    2015-12-01

    Photosymbiosis is a mutualistic relationship that many corals have developed with dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae. The dinoflagellates, of the genus Symbiodinium, photosynthesize and provide corals with most of their energy, while in turn coral hosts live in waters where zooxanthellae have optimal exposure to sunlight. Thanks to this relationship, symbiotic corals calcify faster than non-symbiotic corals. Photosymbiosis is therefore considered the evolutionary innovation that allowed corals to become major reef-builders through geological time.This relationship is extremely difficult to study. Zooxanthellae, which are housed in the coral tissue, are not preserved in fossil coral skeletons, thus determining whether corals had symbionts requires a robust proxy. In order to address this critical question, the goal of this research is to test new proxies for ancient photosymbiosis. Currently the project is focused on assessing the nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes of corals' organic matrices, sensu Muscatine et al. (2005), as well as carbon and oxygen (δ13C, δ18O) isotopes of fossil coral skeletons. Samples from Modern, Pleistocene, Oligocene and Triassic coral skeletons were analyzed to test the validity of these proxies. Coral samples comprise both (interpreted) symbiotic and non-symbiotic fossil corals from the Oligocene and Triassic as well as symbiotic fossil corals from the Modern and Pleistocene to corroborate our findings with the results of Muscatine et al. (2005). Samples were tested for diagenesis through petrographic and scanning electron microscope (SEM) analyses to avoid contamination. Additionally, a novel technique that has not yet been applied to the fossil record was tested. The technique aims to recognize dinosterol, a dinoflagellate biomarker, in both modern and fossil coral samples. The premise of this proxy is that symbiotic corals should contain the dinoflagellate biomarker, whereas those lacking symbionts should lack dinosterol. Results from this

  12. 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.

  13. Diversity dynamics: molecular phylogenies need the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Quental, Tiago B; Marshall, Charles R

    2010-08-01

    Over the last two decades, new tools in the analysis of molecular phylogenies have enabled study of the diversification dynamics of living clades in the absence of information about extinct lineages. However, computer simulations and the fossil record show that the inability to access extinct lineages severely limits the inferences that can be drawn from molecular phylogenies. It appears that molecular phylogenies can tell us only when there have been changes in diversification rates, but are blind to the true diversity trajectories and rates of origination and extinction that have led to the species that are alive today. We need to embrace the fossil record if we want to fully understand the diversity dynamics of the living biota. PMID:20646780

  14. 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.

  15. First record of Podocarpoid fossil wood in South China

    PubMed Central

    Li, Long; Jin, Jian-Hua; Quan, Cheng; Oskolski, Alexei A.

    2016-01-01

    A new species of fossil conifer wood, Podocarpoxylon donghuaiense sp. nov., is described from the late Eocene of Nadu Formation in Baise Basin of the Guangxi Province, South China. This fossil wood is characterized by distinct growth rings, circular to oval tracheids in cross section, 1–2-seriate opposite pits on radial tracheid walls, uniseriate (rarely biseriate) rays, smooth end walls of ray parenchyma cells, and the absence of resin ducts, suggesting its affinity to Podocarpaceae. The new species is distinctive from other Cenozoic woods ascribed to this family by the combination of distinctive growth rings, the absence of axial parenchyma, the occurrence of bordered pits on tangential tracheid walls, and the occurrence of 3–4 cuppressoid or taxodioid pits on cross-fields. This represents the first record of podocarpoid fossil wood in South China and provides fossil evidence for the early dispersal and diversification of Podocarpaceae in eastern Asia as well as for mild temperate seasonal climate in this region during the late Eocene. PMID:27571780

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    1994-03-01

    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.

  17. First record of Podocarpoid fossil wood in South China.

    PubMed

    Li, Long; Jin, Jian-Hua; Quan, Cheng; Oskolski, Alexei A

    2016-01-01

    A new species of fossil conifer wood, Podocarpoxylon donghuaiense sp. nov., is described from the late Eocene of Nadu Formation in Baise Basin of the Guangxi Province, South China. This fossil wood is characterized by distinct growth rings, circular to oval tracheids in cross section, 1-2-seriate opposite pits on radial tracheid walls, uniseriate (rarely biseriate) rays, smooth end walls of ray parenchyma cells, and the absence of resin ducts, suggesting its affinity to Podocarpaceae. The new species is distinctive from other Cenozoic woods ascribed to this family by the combination of distinctive growth rings, the absence of axial parenchyma, the occurrence of bordered pits on tangential tracheid walls, and the occurrence of 3-4 cuppressoid or taxodioid pits on cross-fields. This represents the first record of podocarpoid fossil wood in South China and provides fossil evidence for the early dispersal and diversification of Podocarpaceae in eastern Asia as well as for mild temperate seasonal climate in this region during the late Eocene. PMID:27571780

  18. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Wood, Bernard; Lonergan, Nicholas

    2008-04-01

    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.

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Maturation experiments reveal bias in the fossil record of feathers

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNamara, Maria; Field, Daniel

    2016-04-01

    The evolutionary history of birds and feathers is a major focus in palaeobiology and evolutionary biology. Diverse exceptionally preserved birds and feathered dinosaurs from Jurassic and Cretaceous biotas in China have provided pivotal evidence of early feathers and feather-like integumentary features, but the true nature of many of these fossil soft tissues is still debated. Interpretations of feathers at intermediate developmental stages (i.e. Stages II, III and IV) and of simple quill-like (Stage I) feathers are particularly controversial. This reflects key uncertainties relating to the preservation potential of feathers at different evolutionary-developmental stages, and to the relative preservation potential of diagnostic features of Stage I feathers and hair. To resolve these issues, we used high pressure-high temperature autoclave experiments to simulate the effects of burial on modern feathers from the Black Coucal (Centropus grilii) and Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), and on human hair. Our results reveal profound differences in the recalcitrance of feathers of different types during maturation: Stage I and Stage V feathers retain diagnostic morphological and ultrastructural details following maturation, whereas other feather types do not. Further, the morphology and arrangement of certain ultrastructural features diagnostic of Stages III and IV, e.g. barbules, are preferentially lost during maturation. These results indicate a pervasive bias in the fossil record of feathers, whereby preservation of feathers at Stages I and V is favored. Critical stages in the evolution of feathers, i.e. Stages II, III and IV, are less likely to be preserved and more likely to be misinterpreted as feathers at earlier developmental stages. Our discovery has major implications for our understanding of the fidelity of the fossil record of feathers and provides a framework for testing the significance of putative examples of fossil feathers at different developmental

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

    PubMed

    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.

  5. 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

  6. Aragonite and the fossil record: are we overlooking something?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Balthasar, Uwe

    2016-04-01

    Aragonite and calcite are the two most common minerals from which marine organisms secrete their skeletons, yet their potential to preserve in the fossil record is very different. While calcite is generally very stable, aragonite dissolves relatively easily either during diagenesis or even pre-burial. While the complete loss of aragonitic shells is generally acknowledged, the original contribution of aragonite to commonly preserved calcareous fossils is generally overlooked, particularly in groups with no recent representatives. Palaeozoic brachiopods and stromatoporoid sponges, for example, are traditionally considered to have been made of calcite. However, EBSD work on stromatoporoids shows a complex early diagenesis during which the skeletal walls recrystallised first and served as the nucleation surface for the cements infilling the open galleries between the walls. This suggests that the original mineral composition of the skeletal walls had a high diagenetic potential which makes a stable low-magnesium calcite composition unlikely. Equally, the biggest subphylum of brachiopods, Rhynchonelliformea, is traditionally considered to have shells that are exclusively made of low-magnesium calcite. However, a survey of the shell thickness of 176 Ordovician-Silurian brachiopod valves reveals that the calcitic remains of some of the larger shells (particularly of pentamerids) are far too thin with several specimens exhibiting the irregular internal margins typical of dissolution, thus suggesting a bimineralic composition with an outer calcite and an inner aragonite layer. These examples indicate that existing estimates of Phanerozoic aragonite and calcite skeletal mineralogy are not only biased by the complete dissolution of shells, but we probably overestimate the abundance of original calcite composition in the fossil record.

  7. 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.

  8. The Paleogene fossil record of birds in Europe.

    PubMed

    Mayr, Gerald

    2005-11-01

    The Paleogene (Paleocene-Oligocene) fossil record of birds in Europe is reviewed and recent and fossil taxa are placed into a phylogenetic framework, based on published cladistic analyses. The pre-Oligocene European avifauna is characterized by the complete absence of passeriform birds, which today are the most diverse and abundant avian taxon. Representatives of small non-passeriform perching birds thus probably had similar ecological niches before the Oligocene to those filled by modern passerines. The occurrence of passerines towards the Lower Oligocene appears to have had a major impact on these birds, and the surviving crown-group members of many small arboreal Eocene taxa show highly specialized feeding strategies not found or rare in passeriform birds. It is detailed that no crown-group members of modern 'families' are known from pre-Oligocene deposits of Europe, or anywhere else. The phylogenetic position of Paleogene birds thus indicates that diversification of the crown-groups of modern avian 'families' did not take place before the Oligocene, irrespective of their relative position within Neornithes (crown-group birds). The Paleogene fossil record of birds does not even support crown-group diversification of Galliformes, one of the most basal taxa of neognathous birds, before the Oligocene, and recent molecular studies that dated diversification of galliform crown-group taxa into the Middle Cretaceous are shown to be based on an incorrect interpretation of the fossil taxa used for molecular clock calibrations. Several taxa that occur in the Paleogene of Europe have a very different distribution than their closest extant relatives. The modern survivors of these Paleogene lineages are not evenly distributed over the continents, and especially the great number of taxa that are today restricted to South and Central America is noteworthy. The occurrence of stem-lineage representatives of many taxa that today have a restricted Southern Hemisphere distribution

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. Extinction, diversity and survivorship of taxa in the fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Newman, M. E. J.; Sibani, P.

    1999-01-01

    Using data drawn from large-scale databases, a number of interesting trends in the fossil record have been observed in recent years. These include the average decline in extinction rates throughout the Phanerozoic, the average increase in standing diversity, correlations between rates of origination and extinction, and simple laws governing the form of survivorship curves and the distribution of the lifetimes of taxa. In this paper we derive a number of mathematical relationships between these quantities and show how these different trends are interrelated. We also derive a variety of constraints on the possible forms of these trends, such as limits on the rate at which extinction may decline and limits on the allowed difference between extinction and origination rates at any given time.

  12. Cyclicity in the fossil record mirrors rock outcrop area

    PubMed Central

    Smith, Andrew B; McGowan, Alistair J

    2005-01-01

    In a recent article, Rohde & Muller (Rohde & Muller 2005 Nature 434, 208–210) identified a strong 62 Myr cyclicity in the history of marine diversity through the Phanerozoic. The data they presented were highly convincing, yet they were unable to explain what process might have generated this pattern. A significant correlation between observed genus-level diversity (after removal of long-term trends) and the amount of marine sedimentary rock measured at a surface outcrop in Western Europe is demonstrated. This suggests that cyclicity originates from long-term changes in sedimentary depositional and erosional regimes, and raises the strong possibility that the cyclicity apparent in the record of marine fossils is not a biological signal but a sampling signal. PMID:17148228

  13. 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

  14. 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".

  15. Dynamics of origination and extinction in the marine fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Alroy, John

    2008-01-01

    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

  16. 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. Micrite—the most common lithotype of seeps globally—exists 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

  17. The fossil record and evolution: comparing cladistic and paleontologic evidence for vertebrate history.

    PubMed

    Norell, M A; Novacek, M J

    1992-03-27

    The fossil record offers the only direct evidence of extinct life and thus has figured prominently in considerations of evolutionary patterns. But the incomplete nature of the fossil record has also been emphasized in arguments that fossils play only a secondary role in the recovery of phylogenetic histories based on extant taxa. Although these criticisms recently have been countered, there is no general understanding of the correspondence between the fossil record and phylogeny. An empirical survey of recently published studies suggests no basis for assuming that the stratigraphic occurrence of fossils always provides a precise reflection of phylogeny. Nevertheless, our survey of a sample of taxa shows a tendency for positive correlation between age and clade rank and, hence, a degree of correspondence between phylogenetic pattern and the paleontologic record.

  18. Cladistic analysis of extant and fossil African papionins using craniodental data.

    PubMed

    Gilbert, Christopher C

    2013-05-01

    This study examines African papionin phylogenetic history through a comprehensive cladistic analysis of extant and fossil craniodental morphology using both quantitative and qualitative characters. To account for the well-documented influence of allometry on the papionin skull, the general allometric coding method was applied to characters determined to be significantly affected by allometry. Results of the analyses suggest that Parapapio, Pliopapio, and Papio izodi are stem African papionin taxa. Crown Plio-Pleistocene African papionin taxa include Gorgopithecus, Lophocebus cf. albigena, Procercocebus, Soromandrillus (new genus defined herein) quadratirostris, and, most likely, Dinopithecus. Furthermore, S. quadratirostris is a member of a clade also containing Mandrillus, Cercocebus, and Procercocebus; ?Theropithecus baringensis is strongly supported as a primitive member of the genus Theropithecus; Gorgopithecus is closely related to Papio and Lophocebus; and Theropithecus is possibly the most primitive crown African papionin taxon. Finally, character transformation analyses identify a series of morphological transformations during the course of papionin evolution. The origin of crown African papionins is diagnosed, at least in part, by the appearance of definitive and well-developed male maxillary ridges and maxillary fossae. Among crown African papionins, Papio, Lophocebus, and Gorgopithecus are further united by the most extensive development of the maxillary fossae. The Soromandrillus/Mandrillus/Cercocebus/Procercocebus clade is diagnosed by upturned nuchal crests (especially in males), widely divergent temporal lines (especially in males), medially oriented maxillary ridges in males, medially oriented inferior petrous processes, and a tendency to enlarge the premolars as an adaptation for hard-object food processing. The adaptive origins of the genus Theropithecus appear associated with a diet requiring an increase in size of the temporalis, the optimal

  19. 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

  20. '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

  1. New Palaeogene horntail wasps (Hymenoptera, Siricidae) and a discussion of their fossil record.

    PubMed

    Wedmann, Sonja; Pouillon, Jean-Marc; Nel, André

    2014-09-29

    The phylogenetic placement of siricid hymenopterans and especially the relationships among Siricidae are not resolved, and are in need of further investigation. The fossil record helps to illuminate the evolutionary history of this group. In this paper, Xoanon? eocenicus sp. nov. is newly described from the Eocene Fossillagerstätte Grube Messel (Germany). Although several characters of the wing venation of this fossil are similar to the extant genus Xoanon, there remain some doubts concerning the generic placement. A newly found fossil is attributed to Urocerus ligniticus (Piton, 1940) from the Paloecene Fossillagerstätte Menat (France) and provides more morphological information on this species. An overview of the fossil record of Siricidae in the strict sense is given and the state of knowledge on the different fossils is reviewed.

  2. Integrating developmental biology and the fossil record of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Skawiński, Tomasz; Tałanda, Mateusz

    2014-01-01

    Numerous new discoveries and new research techniques have influenced our understanding of reptile development from a palaeontological perspective. They suggest for example that transition from mineralized to leathery eggshells and from oviparity to viviparity appeared much more often in the evolution of reptiles than was previously thought. Most marine reptiles evolved from viviparous terrestrial ancestors and had probably genetic sex determination. Fossil forms often display developmental traits absent or rare among modern ones such as polydactyly, hyperphalangy, the presence of ribcage armour, reduction of head ornamentation during ontogeny, extreme modifications of vertebral count or a wide range of feather-like structures. Thus, they provide an empirical background for many morphogenetic considerations.

  3. Contemporaneous trace and body fossils from a late Pleistocene Lakebed in Victoria, Australia, allow assessment of bias in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

    2010-08-10

    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.

  6. Gaps in the Rock and Fossil Records and Implications for the Rate and Mode of Evolution.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Smith, Grant Sackett

    1988-01-01

    Examines three types of gaps in the fossil record: real gaps, imaginary gaps, and temporary gaps. Reviews some recent evidence concerning evolution from the paleontological record of microfossils, invertebrates, and vertebrates in order to make some general conclusions regarding the manner in which life evolved on earth. (CW)

  7. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-02-01

    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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Experimental analysis of decay biases in the fossil record of lobopodians

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Murdock, Duncan; Gabbott, Sarah; Purnell, Mark

    2016-04-01

    If fossils are to realize their full potential in reconstructing the tree of life we must understand how our view of ancient organisms is obscured by taphonomic filters of decay and preservation. In most cases, processes of decay will leave behind either nothing or only the most decay resistant body parts, and even in those rare instances where soft tissues are fossilized we cannot assume that the resulting fossil, however exquisite, represents a faithful anatomical representation of the animal as it was in life.Recent experiments have shown that the biases introduced by decay can be far from random; in chordates, for example, the most phylogenetically informative characters are also the most decay-prone, resulting in 'stemward slippage'. But how widespread is this phenomenon, and are there other non-random biases linked to decay? Intuitively, we make assumptions about the likelihood of different kinds of characters to survive and be preserved, with knock-on effects for anatomical and phylogenetic interpretations. To what extent are these assumptions valid? We combine our understanding of the fossil record of lobopodians with insights from decay experiments of modern onychophorans (velvet worms) to test these assumptions. Our analysis demonstrates that taphonomically informed tests of character interpretations have the potential to improve phylogenetic resolution. This approach is widely applicable to the fossil record - allowing us to ground-truth some of the assumptions involved in describing exceptionally preserved fossil material.

  14. Phanerozoic marine biodiversity dynamics in light of the incompleteness of the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Lu, Peter J; Yogo, Motohiro; Marshall, Charles R

    2006-02-21

    Long-term evolutionary dynamics have been approached through quantitative analysis of the fossil record, but without explicitly taking its incompleteness into account. Here we explore the temporal covariance structure of per-genus origination and extinction rates for global marine fossil genera throughout the Phanerozoic, both before and after corrections for the incompleteness of the fossil record. Using uncorrected data based on Sepkoski's compendium, we find significant autocovariance within origination and extinction rates, as well as covariance between extinction and origination, not one, but two, intervals later, corroborating evidence for the unexplained temporal gap found by past studies. However, these effects vanish when the data are corrected for the incompleteness of the fossil record. Instead, we observe significant covariance only between extinction and origination in the immediately following intervals. The gap in the response of the biosphere to extinction in the uncorrected fossil record thus appears to be an artifact of the incompleteness of the fossil record, specifically due to episodic variation in the probability that taxa will be preserved, on time scales comparable to the temporal resolution of Sepkoski's data. Our results also indicate that at that temporal resolution (the stage/substage of duration approximately = 5 million years), changes in origination and extinction do not persist for longer than one interval, except that elevated origination rates immediately after extinction may last for more than a single interval. Thus, although certain individual cases may deviate from the overall pattern, we find that in general the biosphere's response to perturbation is immediate geologically and usually short-lived. PMID:16477008

  15. Phanerozoic marine biodiversity dynamics in light of the incompleteness of the fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Lu, Peter J.; Yogo, Motohiro; Marshall, Charles R.

    2006-01-01

    Long-term evolutionary dynamics have been approached through quantitative analysis of the fossil record, but without explicitly taking its incompleteness into account. Here we explore the temporal covariance structure of per-genus origination and extinction rates for global marine fossil genera throughout the Phanerozoic, both before and after corrections for the incompleteness of the fossil record. Using uncorrected data based on Sepkoski’s compendium, we find significant autocovariance within origination and extinction rates, as well as covariance between extinction and origination, not one, but two, intervals later, corroborating evidence for the unexplained temporal gap found by past studies. However, these effects vanish when the data are corrected for the incompleteness of the fossil record. Instead, we observe significant covariance only between extinction and origination in the immediately following intervals. The gap in the response of the biosphere to extinction in the uncorrected fossil record thus appears to be an artifact of the incompleteness of the fossil record, specifically due to episodic variation in the probability that taxa will be preserved, on time scales comparable to the temporal resolution of Sepkoski’s data. Our results also indicate that at that temporal resolution (the stage/substage of duration ≈5 million years), changes in origination and extinction do not persist for longer than one interval, except that elevated origination rates immediately after extinction may last for more than a single interval. Thus, although certain individual cases may deviate from the overall pattern, we find that in general the biosphere’s response to perturbation is immediate geologically and usually short-lived. PMID:16477008

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. Colonization and diversification in the African 'sky islands': insights from fossil-calibrated molecular dating of Lychnis (Caryophyllaceae).

    PubMed

    Gizaw, Abel; Brochmann, Christian; Nemomissa, Sileshi; Wondimu, Tigist; Masao, Catherine Aloyce; Tusiime, Felly Mugizi; Abdi, Ahmed Abdikadir; Oxelman, Bengt; Popp, Magnus; Dimitrov, Dimitar

    2016-07-01

    The flora on the isolated high African mountains or 'sky islands' is remarkable for its peculiar adaptations, local endemism and striking biogeographical connections to remote parts of the world. Ages of the plant lineages and the timing of their radiations have frequently been debated but remain contentious as there are few estimates based on explicit models and fossil-calibrated molecular clocks. We used the plastid region maturaseK (matK) and a Caryophylloflora paleogenica fossil to infer the age of the genus Lychnis, and constructed a data set of three plastid (matK; a ribosomal protein S16 (rps16); and an intergenic spacer (psbE-petL)) and two nuclear (internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and a region spanning exon 18-24 in the second largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (RPB2)) loci for joint estimation of the species tree and divergence time of the African representatives. The time of divergence of the African high-altitude Lychnis was placed in the late Miocene to early Pliocene. A single speciation event was inferred in the early Pliocene; subsequent speciation took place sporadically from the late Pliocene to the middle Pleistocene. We provide further support for a Eurasian origin of the African 'sky islands' floral elements, which seem to have been recruited via dispersals at different times: some old, as in Lychnis, and others very recent. We show that dispersal and diversification within Africa play an important role in shaping these isolated plant communities. PMID:27037925

  3. 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

  4. Early Life on Earth: the Ancient Fossil Record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Westall, F.

    2004-07-01

    The evidence for early life and its initial evolution on Earth is lin= ked intimately with the geological evolution of the early Earth. The environment of the early Earth would be considered extreme by modern standards: hot (50-80=B0C), volcanically and hydrothermally active, a= noxic, high UV flux, and a high flux of extraterrestrial impacts. Habitats = for life were more limited until continent-building processes resulted in= the formation of stable cratons with wide, shallow, continental platforms= in the Mid-Late Archaean. Unfortunately there are no records of the first appearance of life and the earliest isotopic indications of the exist= ence of organisms fractionating carbon in ~3.8 Ga rocks from the Isua greenst= one belt in Greenland are tenuous. Well-preserved microfossils and micro= bial mats (in the form of tabular and domical stromatolites) occur in 3.5-= 3.3 Ga, Early Archaean, sedimentary formations from the Barberton (South Afri= ca) and Pilbara (Australia) greenstone belts. They document life forms that = show a relatively advanced level of evolution. Microfossil morphology inclu= des filamentous, coccoid, rod and vibroid shapes. Colonial microorganism= s formed biofilms and microbial mats at the surfaces of volcaniclastic = and chemical sediments, some of which created (small) macroscopic microbi= alites such as stromatolites. Anoxygenic photosynthesis may already have developed. Carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopes ratios are in the r= ange of those for organisms with anaerobic metabolisms, such as methanogenesi= s, sulphate reduction and photosynthesis. Life was apparently distribute= d widely in shallow-water to littoral environments, including exposed, evaporitic basins and regions of hydrothermal activity. Biomass in t= he early Archaean was restricted owing to the limited amount of energy t= hat could be produced by anaerobic metabolisms. Microfossils resembling o= xygenic photosynthesisers, such as cyanobacteria, probably first occurred in

  5. Atmospheric composition as a potential taphonomic filter for the fossil leaf record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bacon, Karen; Haworth, Matthew; McElwain, Jennifer

    2016-04-01

    Controlled environment chambers provide a unique opportunity to investigate plant responses to simulated palaeoatmospheric compositions that reflect previous periods of Earth history. One potentially important role of atmospheric composition that has not been considered in detail, is how it may affect plant preservation in the fossil record. Previous work has shown that plants, particularly angiosperms, have a tendency to increase leaf mass per area (LMA) when grown in above-ambient CO2. We tested the response of six nearest living equivalent taxa for Mesozoic floras to a range of simulated Mesozoic palaeoatmospheric treatments in controlled environment chambers. Exposure to high CO2 (~1,500 ppm) led to a statistically significant (p < 0.001) increase in LMA in four out of 6 species and exposure to high CO2 and low O2 (~13%) led to a statistically significant (p < 0.001) increase in LMA in all six species. These findings suggest that atmospheric composition has a highly significant impact on LMA. If this is also the case in fossil floras, then this suggests that atmospheric composition may influence leaf preservation potential in the fossil record. Based on these results, we put forward the hypothesis that atmospheric composition is an important taphonomic filter of the fossil leaf record. Further research is now required to test the significance of atmospheric composition versus other well-known taphonomic filters.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. An Analytical Approach for Estimating Fossil Record and Diversification Events in Sharks, Skates and Rays

    PubMed Central

    Guinot, Guillaume; Adnet, Sylvain; Cappetta, Henri

    2012-01-01

    Background Modern selachians and their supposed sister group (hybodont sharks) have a long and successful evolutionary history. Yet, although selachian remains are considered relatively common in the fossil record in comparison with other marine vertebrates, little is known about the quality of their fossil record. Similarly, only a few works based on specific time intervals have attempted to identify major events that marked the evolutionary history of this group. Methodology/Principal Findings Phylogenetic hypotheses concerning modern selachians’ interrelationships are numerous but differ significantly and no consensus has been found. The aim of the present study is to take advantage of the range of recent phylogenetic hypotheses in order to assess the fit of the selachian fossil record to phylogenies, according to two different branching methods. Compilation of these data allowed the inference of an estimated range of diversity through time and evolutionary events that marked this group over the past 300 Ma are identified. Results indicate that with the exception of high taxonomic ranks (orders), the selachian fossil record is by far imperfect, particularly for generic and post-Triassic data. Timing and amplitude of the various identified events that marked the selachian evolutionary history are discussed. Conclusion/Significance Some identified diversity events were mentioned in previous works using alternative methods (Early Jurassic, mid-Cretaceous, K/T boundary and late Paleogene diversity drops), thus reinforcing the efficiency of the methodology presented here in inferring evolutionary events. Other events (Permian/Triassic, Early and Late Cretaceous diversifications; Triassic/Jurassic extinction) are newly identified. Relationships between these events and paleoenvironmental characteristics and other groups’ evolutionary history are proposed. PMID:22957091

  15. Camellia nanningensis sp. nov.: the earliest fossil wood record of the genus Camellia (Theaceae) from East Asia.

    PubMed

    Huang, Lu-Liang; Jin, Jian-Hua; Quan, Cheng; Oskolski, Alexei A

    2016-09-01

    A new species Camellia nanningensis was described on the basis of well-preserved mummified wood from the upper Oligocene Yongning Formation of Nanning Basin in Guangxi Province, South China. This represents the most ancient fossil wood assigned to Camellia, and the earliest fossil record of the family Theaceae in China. This fossil material shows that Camellia occurred in China as early as the late Oligocene, suggesting more ancient radiation of this genus than estimated by molecular dating. PMID:27379410

  16. Fish as a proxy for African paleogeography: results from both extant and fossil taxa and prospects to constrain faunal exchange pathway through time

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Otero, Olga; Joordens, Josephine; Dettai, Agnès; Christ, Leemans; Pinton, Aurélie

    2016-04-01

    We assume that basin boundaries constitute barriers to dispersal for freshwater fish and as a consequence that basin geomorphology and connectivity, and its changes through time, can be reconstructed thanks to fish evolutionary history. Firstly, this primary intuitive hypothesis is supported by patterns of fish distribution in the different basins and sub-basins of modern Africa, at both a specific and a generic level, and in certain cases at a family level. This is illustrated by the fact that hydrographical basin boundaries are reflected in the ichthyological provinces as defined and used by ichthyologists for a long time. Moreover, we show that at a continental scale, the hierarchical fish distribution patterns fit with main geological and climatic events according to their depth in time and amplitude [1]. Secondly, we further tested this hypothesis in several ways: (1) through the phylogeographical study of the catfish genus Synodontis [2], chosen because of its modern distribution and its rich fossil record, and (2) through the examination of the fossil record and systematics of the African lungfish Protopterus [3], of the catfish Calarius and of an extinct acanthomorph fish called Semlikiichthys [4,5]. We were then able to correlate these fish histories with quaternary climate change and with geological events throughout the Tertiary in Africa. Our conclusions are also corroborated by existing fish phylogenies that overlap with our region of interest, and elsewhere. While in the last years an increasing number of molecular phylogenetical studies support correlation between fish evolution and basin history at shallow time scales, our studies (and a few other studies) also demonstrate the relevance of fish evolution to work at deeper time and larger geological scales, depending on the taxon distribution and age. Moreover, we plead for the inclusion of fossils when available. Indeed, for extant taxa they are useful to calibrate molecular clocks but also to

  17. 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.

  18. Developmental palaeontology in synapsids: the fossil record of ontogeny in mammals and their closest relatives.

    PubMed

    Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R

    2010-04-22

    The study of fossilized ontogenies in mammals is mostly restricted to postnatal and late stages of growth, but nevertheless can deliver great insights into life history and evolutionary mechanisms affecting all aspects of development. Fossils provide evidence of developmental plasticity determined by ecological factors, as when allometric relations are modified in species which invaded a new space with a very different selection regime. This is the case of dwarfing and gigantism evolution in islands. Skeletochronological studies are restricted to the examination of growth marks mostly in the cement and dentine of teeth and can provide absolute age estimates. These, together with dental replacement data considered in a phylogenetic context, provide life-history information such as maturation time and longevity. Palaeohistology and dental replacement data document the more or less gradual but also convergent evolution of mammalian growth features during early synapsid evolution. Adult phenotypes of extinct mammals can inform developmental processes by showing a combination of features or levels of integration unrecorded in living species. Some adult features such as vertebral number, easily recorded in fossils, provide indirect information about somitogenesis and hox-gene expression boundaries. Developmental palaeontology is relevant for the discourse of ecological developmental biology, an area of research where features of growth and variation are fundamental and accessible among fossil mammals.

  19. Developmental palaeontology in synapsids: the fossil record of ontogeny in mammals and their closest relatives.

    PubMed

    Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R

    2010-04-22

    The study of fossilized ontogenies in mammals is mostly restricted to postnatal and late stages of growth, but nevertheless can deliver great insights into life history and evolutionary mechanisms affecting all aspects of development. Fossils provide evidence of developmental plasticity determined by ecological factors, as when allometric relations are modified in species which invaded a new space with a very different selection regime. This is the case of dwarfing and gigantism evolution in islands. Skeletochronological studies are restricted to the examination of growth marks mostly in the cement and dentine of teeth and can provide absolute age estimates. These, together with dental replacement data considered in a phylogenetic context, provide life-history information such as maturation time and longevity. Palaeohistology and dental replacement data document the more or less gradual but also convergent evolution of mammalian growth features during early synapsid evolution. Adult phenotypes of extinct mammals can inform developmental processes by showing a combination of features or levels of integration unrecorded in living species. Some adult features such as vertebral number, easily recorded in fossils, provide indirect information about somitogenesis and hox-gene expression boundaries. Developmental palaeontology is relevant for the discourse of ecological developmental biology, an area of research where features of growth and variation are fundamental and accessible among fossil mammals. PMID:20071389

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Large-scale heterogeneity of the fossil record: implications for Phanerozoic biodiversity studies.

    PubMed

    Smith, A B

    2001-03-29

    Patterns of origination, extinction and standing diversity through time have been inferred from tallies of taxa preserved in the fossil record. This approach assumes that sampling of the fossil record is effectively uniform over time. Although recent evidence suggests that our sampling of the available rock record has indeed been very thorough and effective, there is also overwhelming evidence that the rock record available for sampling is itself distorted by major systematic biases. Data on rock outcrop area compiled for post-Palaeozoic sediments from Western Europe at stage level are presented. These show a strongly cyclical pattern corresponding to first- and second-order sequence stratigraphical depositional cycles. Standing diversity increases over time and, at the coarsest scale, is decoupled from surface outcrop area. This increasing trend can therefore be considered a real pattern. Changes in standing diversity and origination rates over time-scales measured in tens of millions of years, however, are strongly correlated with surface outcrop area. Extinction peaks conform to a random-walk model, but larger peaks occur at just two positions with respect to second-order stratigraphical sequences, towards the culmination of stacked transgressive system tracts and close to system bases, precisely the positions where taxonomic last occurrences are predicted to cluster under a random distribution model. Many of the taxonomic patterns that have been described from the fossil record conform to a species-area effect. Whether this arises primarily from sampling bias, or from changing surface area of marine shelf seas through time and its effect on biodiversity, remains problematic. PMID:11316484

  3. The earliest fossil record of Panorpidae (Mecoptera) from the Middle Jurassic of China

    PubMed Central

    Ding, He; Shih, Chungkun; Bashkuev, Alexei; Zhao, Yunyun; Ren, Dong

    2014-01-01

    Abstract The early history of Panorpidae (Mecoptera) is poorly known due to sparse fossil records. Up to date, only nine fossil species have been described, all from the Paleogene, except the Early Cretaceous Solusipanorpa gibbidorsa Lin, 1980. However, we suggest S. gibbidorsa is too incompletely preserved to permit even family classification. A new genus with two new species, Jurassipanorpa impunctata gen. et sp. n. and Jurassipanorpa sticta sp. n., are described based on four well-preserved specimens from the late Middle Jurassic Jiulongshan Formation of Daohugou, Inner Mongolia, China. These two new species are the earliest fossil records of Panorpidae. The new genus is erected based on a combination of forewing characters: both R1 and Rs1 with two branches, 1A reaching posterior margin of wing distad of the forking of Rs from R1, and no crossveins or only one crossvein between veins of 1A and 2A. In all four specimens, long and robust setae ranging from 0.09 to 0.38 mm in length and pointing anteriorly, are present on anal veins of forewings. The function of these setae is enigmatic. PMID:25152669

  4. MicroRNAs resolve an apparent conflict between annelid systematics and their fossil record.

    PubMed

    Sperling, Erik A; Vinther, Jakob; Moy, Vanessa N; Wheeler, Benjamin M; Sémon, Marie; Briggs, Derek E G; Peterson, Kevin J

    2009-12-22

    Both the monophyly and inter-relationships of the major annelid groups have remained uncertain, despite intensive research on both morphology and molecular sequences. Morphological cladistic analyses indicate that Annelida is monophyletic and consists of two monophyletic groups, the clitellates and polychaetes, whereas molecular phylogenetic analyses suggest that polychaetes are paraphyletic and that sipunculans are crown-group annelids. Both the monophyly of polychaetes and the placement of sipunculans within annelids are in conflict with the annelid fossil record--the former because Cambrian stem taxa are similar to modern polychaetes in possessing biramous parapodia, suggesting that clitellates are derived from polychaetes; the latter because although fossil sipunculans are known from the Early Cambrian, crown-group annelids do not appear until the latest Cambrian. Here we apply a different data source, the presence versus absence of specific microRNAs--genes that encode approximately 22 nucleotide non-coding regulatory RNAs--to the problem of annelid phylogenetics. We show that annelids are monophyletic with respect to sipunculans, and polychaetes are paraphyletic with respect to the clitellate Lumbricus, conclusions that are consistent with the fossil record. Further, sipunculans resolve as the sister group of the annelids, rooting the annelid tree, and revealing the polarity of the morphological change within this diverse lineage of animals.

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

    PubMed

    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. PMID:19296064

  6. 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.

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

    PubMed

    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. Systematics, phylogeny, and taphonomy of ghost shrimps (Decapoda): a perspective from the fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Klompmaker, Adiël A.

    2016-01-01

    Ghost shrimps of Callianassidae and Ctenochelidae are soft-bodied, usually heterochelous decapods representing major bioturbators of muddy and sandy (sub)marine substrates. Ghost shrimps have a robust fossil record spanning from the Early Cretaceous (~ 133 Ma) to the Holocene and their remains are present in most assemblages of Cenozoic decapod crustaceans. Their taxonomic interpretation is in flux, mainly because the generic assignment is hindered by their insufficient preservation and disagreement in the biological classification. Furthermore, numerous taxa are incorrectly classified within the catch-all taxon Callianassa. To show the historical patterns in describing fossil ghost shrimps and to evaluate taphonomic aspects influencing the attribution of ghost shrimp remains to higher level taxa, a database of all fossil species treated at some time as belonging to the group has been compiled: 250 / 274 species are considered valid ghost shrimp taxa herein. More than half of these taxa (160 species, 58.4%) are known only from distal cheliped elements, i.e., dactylus and / or propodus, due to the more calcified cuticle locally. Rarely, ghost shrimps are preserved in situ in burrows or in direct association with them, and several previously unpublished occurrences are reported herein. For generic assignment, fossil material should be compared to living species because many of them have modern relatives. Heterochely, intraspecific variation, ontogenetic changes and sexual dimorphism are all factors that have to be taken into account when working with fossil ghost shrimps. Distal elements are usually more variable than proximal ones. Preliminary results suggest that the ghost shrimp clade emerged not before the Hauterivian (~ 133 Ma). The divergence of Ctenochelidae and Paracalliacinae is estimated to occur within the interval of Hauterivian to Albian (133–100 Ma). Callichirinae and Eucalliacinae likely diverged later during the Late Cretaceous (100–66 Ma

  9. Keratin Durability Has Implications for the Fossil Record: Results from a 10 Year Feather Degradation Experiment

    PubMed Central

    Moyer, Alison E.; Zheng, Wenxia; Schweitzer, Mary H.

    2016-01-01

    Keratinous ‘soft tissue’ structures (i.e. epidermally derived and originally non-biomineralized), include feathers, skin, claws, beaks, and hair. Despite their relatively common occurrence in the fossil record (second only to bone and teeth), few studies have addressed natural degradation processes that must occur in all organic material, including those keratinous structures that are incorporated into the rock record as fossils. Because feathers have high preservation potential and strong phylogenetic signal, in the current study we examine feathers subjected to different burial environments for a duration of ~10 years, using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and in situ immunofluorescence (IF). We use morphology and persistence of specific immunoreactivity as indicators of preservation at the molecular and microstructural levels. We show that feather keratin is durable, demonstrates structural and microstructural integrity, and retains epitopes suitable for specific antibody recognition in even the harshest conditions. These data support the hypothesis that keratin antibody reactivity can be used to identify the nature and composition of epidermal structures in the rock record, and to address evolutionary questions by distinguishing between alpha- (widely distributed) and beta- (limited to sauropsids) keratin. PMID:27384819

  10. Keratin Durability Has Implications for the Fossil Record: Results from a 10 Year Feather Degradation Experiment.

    PubMed

    Moyer, Alison E; Zheng, Wenxia; Schweitzer, Mary H

    2016-01-01

    Keratinous 'soft tissue' structures (i.e. epidermally derived and originally non-biomineralized), include feathers, skin, claws, beaks, and hair. Despite their relatively common occurrence in the fossil record (second only to bone and teeth), few studies have addressed natural degradation processes that must occur in all organic material, including those keratinous structures that are incorporated into the rock record as fossils. Because feathers have high preservation potential and strong phylogenetic signal, in the current study we examine feathers subjected to different burial environments for a duration of ~10 years, using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and in situ immunofluorescence (IF). We use morphology and persistence of specific immunoreactivity as indicators of preservation at the molecular and microstructural levels. We show that feather keratin is durable, demonstrates structural and microstructural integrity, and retains epitopes suitable for specific antibody recognition in even the harshest conditions. These data support the hypothesis that keratin antibody reactivity can be used to identify the nature and composition of epidermal structures in the rock record, and to address evolutionary questions by distinguishing between alpha- (widely distributed) and beta- (limited to sauropsids) keratin. PMID:27384819

  11. MicroRNAs resolve an apparent conflict between annelid systematics and their fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Sperling, Erik A.; Vinther, Jakob; Moy, Vanessa N.; Wheeler, Benjamin M.; Sémon, Marie; Briggs, Derek E. G.; Peterson, Kevin J.

    2009-01-01

    Both the monophyly and inter-relationships of the major annelid groups have remained uncertain, despite intensive research on both morphology and molecular sequences. Morphological cladistic analyses indicate that Annelida is monophyletic and consists of two monophyletic groups, the clitellates and polychaetes, whereas molecular phylogenetic analyses suggest that polychaetes are paraphyletic and that sipunculans are crown-group annelids. Both the monophyly of polychaetes and the placement of sipunculans within annelids are in conflict with the annelid fossil record—the former because Cambrian stem taxa are similar to modern polychaetes in possessing biramous parapodia, suggesting that clitellates are derived from polychaetes; the latter because although fossil sipunculans are known from the Early Cambrian, crown-group annelids do not appear until the latest Cambrian. Here we apply a different data source, the presence versus absence of specific microRNAs—genes that encode approximately 22 nucleotide non-coding regulatory RNAs—to the problem of annelid phylogenetics. We show that annelids are monophyletic with respect to sipunculans, and polychaetes are paraphyletic with respect to the clitellate Lumbricus, conclusions that are consistent with the fossil record. Further, sipunculans resolve as the sister group of the annelids, rooting the annelid tree, and revealing the polarity of the morphological change within this diverse lineage of animals. PMID:19755470

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-08-16

    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 O(2) in the environment, molecular fossils offer a unique record of O(2) 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 O(2) 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 O(2) 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 O(2). In the late Archean, molecular oxygen likely cycled as a biogenic trace gas, much as compounds such as dimethylsulfide do today. PMID:21825157

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    1999-01-01

    preservation in the fossil record. PMID:10091249

  17. 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

  18. Extinction during evolutionary radiations: reconciling the fossil record with molecular phylogenies.

    PubMed

    Quental, Tiago B; Marshall, Charles R

    2009-12-01

    Recent application of time-varying birth-death models to molecular phylogenies suggests that a decreasing diversification rate can only be observed if there was a decreasing speciation rate coupled with extremely low or no extinction. However, from a paleontological perspective, zero extinction rates during evolutionary radiations seem unlikely. Here, with a more comprehensive set of computer simulations, we show that substantial extinction can occur without erasing the signal of decreasing diversification rate in a molecular phylogeny. We also find, in agreement with the previous work, that a decrease in diversification rate cannot be observed in a molecular phylogeny with an increasing extinction rate alone. Further, we find that the ability to observe decreasing diversification rates in molecular phylogenies is controlled (in part) by the ratio of the initial speciation rate (Lambda) to the extinction rate (Mu) at equilibrium (the LiMe ratio), and not by their absolute values. Here we show in principle, how estimates of initial speciation rates may be calculated using both the fossil record and the shape of lineage through time plots derived from molecular phylogenies. This is important because the fossil record provides more reliable estimates of equilibrium extinction rates than initial speciation rates.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. First direct evidence of a vertebrate three-level trophic chain in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Kriwet, Jürgen; Witzmann, Florian; Klug, Stefanie; Heidtke, Ulrich H J

    2008-01-22

    We describe the first known occurrence of a Permian shark specimen preserving two temnospondyl amphibians in its digestive tract as well as the remains of an acanthodian fish, which was ingested by one of the temnospondyls. This exceptional find provides for the first time direct evidence of a vertebrate three-level food chain in the fossil record with the simultaneous preservation of three trophic levels. Our analysis shows that small-sized Lower Permian xenacanthid sharks of the genus Triodus preyed on larval piscivorous amphibians. The recorded trophic interaction can be explained by the adaptation of certain xenacanthids to fully freshwater environments and the fact that in these same environments, large temnospondyls occupied the niche of modern crocodiles. This unique faunal association has not been documented after the Permian and Triassic. Therefore, this Palaeozoic three-level food chain provides strong and independent support for changes in aquatic trophic chain structures through time. PMID:17971323

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. Was Australopithecus anamensis ancestral to A. afarensis? A case of anagenesis in the hominin fossil record.

    PubMed

    Kimbel, William H; Lockwood, Charles A; Ward, Carol V; Leakey, Meave G; Rak, Yoel; Johanson, Donald C

    2006-08-01

    We tested the hypothesis that early Pliocene Australopithecus anamensis was ancestral to A. afarensis by conducting a phylogenetic analysis of four temporally successive fossil samples assigned to these species (from earliest to latest: Kanapoi, Allia Bay, Laetoli, Hadar) using polarized character-state data from 20 morphological characters of the dentition and jaws. If the hypothesis that A. anamensis is ancestral to A. afarensis is true, then character-state changes between the temporally ordered site-samples should be congruent with hypothesized polarity transformations based on outgroup (African great ape) conditions. The most parsimonious reconstruction of character-state evolution suggests that each of the hominin OTUs shares apomorphies only with geologically younger OTUs, as predicted by the hypothesis of ancestry (tree length=31; Consistency Index=0.903). This concordance of stratigraphic and character-state data supports the idea that the A. anamensis and A. afarensis samples represent parts of an anagenetically evolving lineage, or evolutionary species. Each site-sample appears to capture a different point along this evolutionary trajectory. We discuss the implications of this conclusion for the taxonomy and adaptive evolution of these early-middle Pliocene hominins.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. An ecometric analysis of the fossil mammal record of the Turkana Basin

    PubMed Central

    Žliobaitė, Indrė; Kaya, Ferhat; Bibi, Faysal; Bobe, René; Leakey, Louise; Leakey, Meave; Patterson, David; Rannikko, Janina; Werdelin, Lars

    2016-01-01

    Although ecometric methods have been used to analyse fossil mammal faunas and environments of Eurasia and North America, such methods have not yet been applied to the rich fossil mammal record of eastern Africa. Here we report results from analysis of a combined dataset spanning east and west Turkana from Kenya between 7 and 1 million years ago (Ma). We provide temporally and spatially resolved estimates of temperature and precipitation and discuss their relationship to patterns of faunal change, and propose a new hypothesis to explain the lack of a temperature trend. We suggest that the regionally arid Turkana Basin may between 4 and 2 Ma have acted as a ‘species factory’, generating ecological adaptations in advance of the global trend. We show a persistent difference between the eastern and western sides of the Turkana Basin and suggest that the wetlands of the shallow eastern side could have provided additional humidity to the terrestrial ecosystems. Pending further research, a transient episode of faunal change centred at the time of the KBS Member (1.87–1.53 Ma), may be equally plausibly attributed to climate change or to a top-down ecological cascade initiated by the entry of technologically sophisticated humans. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Major transitions in human evolution’. PMID:27298463

  15. Live coral cover in the fossil record: an example from Holocene reefs of the Dominican Republic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lescinsky, H.; Titus, B.; Hubbard, D.

    2012-06-01

    Fossil reefs hold important ecological information that can provide a prehuman baseline for understanding recent anthropogenic changes in reefs systems. The most widely used proxy for reef "health," however, is live coral cover, and this has not been quantified in the fossil record because it is difficult to establish that even adjacent corals were alive at the same time. This study uses microboring and taphonomic proxies to differentiate between live and dead corals along well-defined time surfaces in Holocene reefs of the Enriquillo Valley, Dominican Republic. At Cañada Honda, live coral cover ranged from 59 to 80% along a contemporaneous surface buried by a storm layer, and the reef, as a whole had 33-80% live cover within the branching, mixed, massive and platy zones. These values equal or exceed those in the Dominican Republic and Caribbean today or reported decades ago. The values from the western Dominican Republic provide a geologic baseline against which modern anthropogenic changes in Caribbean reefs can be considered.

  16. Balsscallichirus Sakai, 2011 (Decapoda: Axiidea: Callianassidae) in the fossil record: systematics and palaeobiogeography

    PubMed Central

    Hyžný, Matúš

    2016-01-01

    The fossil record of the ghost shrimp genus Balsscallichirus Sakai, 2011 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Callianassidae) is revised. Barnardcallichirus Sakai, 2011 and Tirmizicallichirus Sakai, 2011 are considered subjective synonyms of Balsscallichirus. Based on the examination of extant species it is argued that the morphology of the major cheliped merus, in combination with other hard part morphology characters, is sufficient for assignment of the fossil material into the genus. Main identifying characters are on merus which is keeled along its midline and its lower half is tuberculated; its lower margin possesses broad proximal meral hook continuing into a lobe distally; the entire lower margin is subdivided into numerous irregularly spaced spines. Three species, Callianassa sismondai A. Milne-Edwards, 1860, C. floriana Glaessner, 1928, and Podocallichirus laepaensis Hyžný & Muñiz, 2012, originally described from the Miocene of Italy, Austria and Spain, respectively, are assigned to Balsscallichirus herein. Neocallichirus wellsi Schweitzer, Feldmann & Gingerich, 2004 from the Upper Eocene of Pakistan is tentatively assigned to that genus as well. Spatial and temporal distribution of the genus indicates that at least since the Oligocene, and possibly even sooner (the Late Eocene), the genus has been restricted to the Western Tethys Region. Later, it migrated also into West Atlantic establishing present day communities. PMID:27499568

  17. Fossil records of subsection Pinus (genus Pinus, Pinaceae) from the Cenozoic in Japan.

    PubMed

    Yamada, Toshihiro; Yamada, Mariko; Tsukagoshi, Minoru

    2014-03-01

    Extant pines of subsection Pinus (section Pinus, genus Pinus, Pinaceae) are predominantly distributed in Eastern Asia. However, the extent of diversification in the section has yet to be fully clarified. We reviewed fossil records of subsection Pinus from Japan and collected permineralized materials, in which anatomical details are preserved for better understanding of the diversification. Our results suggest that this subsection appeared in Japan no earlier than the Middle Eocene, with extant species (i.e., Pinus densiflora and Pinus thunbergii) appearing around the beginning of the Pleistocene. Pinus fujiii (Early Miocene to Early Pleistocene) is inferred to have a close affinity to P. thunbergii based on the medial arrangement of its leaf resin canals. Additionally, P. fujiii has a similar cone morphology to those of extant species living in China, bridging the morphological gap between P. thunbergii and Chinese relatives of P. thunbergii as inferred by molecular phylogenetic analyses. Our results also suggest that taxonomic revisions of Pinus miocenica and Pinus oligolepis are required among the Japanese fossil species reported to date.

  18. An ecometric analysis of the fossil mammal record of the Turkana Basin.

    PubMed

    Fortelius, Mikael; Žliobaitė, Indrė; Kaya, Ferhat; Bibi, Faysal; Bobe, René; Leakey, Louise; Leakey, Meave; Patterson, David; Rannikko, Janina; Werdelin, Lars

    2016-07-01

    Although ecometric methods have been used to analyse fossil mammal faunas and environments of Eurasia and North America, such methods have not yet been applied to the rich fossil mammal record of eastern Africa. Here we report results from analysis of a combined dataset spanning east and west Turkana from Kenya between 7 and 1 million years ago (Ma). We provide temporally and spatially resolved estimates of temperature and precipitation and discuss their relationship to patterns of faunal change, and propose a new hypothesis to explain the lack of a temperature trend. We suggest that the regionally arid Turkana Basin may between 4 and 2 Ma have acted as a 'species factory', generating ecological adaptations in advance of the global trend. We show a persistent difference between the eastern and western sides of the Turkana Basin and suggest that the wetlands of the shallow eastern side could have provided additional humidity to the terrestrial ecosystems. Pending further research, a transient episode of faunal change centred at the time of the KBS Member (1.87-1.53 Ma), may be equally plausibly attributed to climate change or to a top-down ecological cascade initiated by the entry of technologically sophisticated humans.This article is part of the themed issue 'Major transitions in human evolution'.

  19. An ecometric analysis of the fossil mammal record of the Turkana Basin.

    PubMed

    Fortelius, Mikael; Žliobaitė, Indrė; Kaya, Ferhat; Bibi, Faysal; Bobe, René; Leakey, Louise; Leakey, Meave; Patterson, David; Rannikko, Janina; Werdelin, Lars

    2016-07-01

    Although ecometric methods have been used to analyse fossil mammal faunas and environments of Eurasia and North America, such methods have not yet been applied to the rich fossil mammal record of eastern Africa. Here we report results from analysis of a combined dataset spanning east and west Turkana from Kenya between 7 and 1 million years ago (Ma). We provide temporally and spatially resolved estimates of temperature and precipitation and discuss their relationship to patterns of faunal change, and propose a new hypothesis to explain the lack of a temperature trend. We suggest that the regionally arid Turkana Basin may between 4 and 2 Ma have acted as a 'species factory', generating ecological adaptations in advance of the global trend. We show a persistent difference between the eastern and western sides of the Turkana Basin and suggest that the wetlands of the shallow eastern side could have provided additional humidity to the terrestrial ecosystems. Pending further research, a transient episode of faunal change centred at the time of the KBS Member (1.87-1.53 Ma), may be equally plausibly attributed to climate change or to a top-down ecological cascade initiated by the entry of technologically sophisticated humans.This article is part of the themed issue 'Major transitions in human evolution'. PMID:27298463

  20. 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.

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. A dinosaurian facial deformity and the first occurrence of ameloblastoma in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Dumbravă, Mihai D; Rothschild, Bruce M; Weishampel, David B; Csiki-Sava, Zoltán; Andrei, Răzvan A; Acheson, Katharine A; Codrea, Vlad A

    2016-01-01

    Despite documentation of various types of neoplastic pathologies encountered in the vertebrate fossil record, no ameloblastic tumours have been recognised so far. Ameloblastoma is a benign neoplasic tumour with a strong preponderance for the mandible. Here, we report for the first time the presence of an ameloblastoma neoplasm in the lower jaw of a specimen referred to the derived non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroid dinosaur Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus from the uppermost Cretaceous of the Haeg Basin in Romania. The location, external appearance and internal structure of the pathological outgrowth provide clear evidence for the diagnosis of ameloblastoma in Telmatosaurus. This report extends the range of pathologies encountered in hadrosauroid dinosaurs. In addition, recognition of an ameloblastoma neoplasm in a taxon lying close to the origin of 'duck-billed' hadrosaurid dinosaurs confirms the predisposition of this clade towards neoplasia pathologies already in its basal members. PMID:27377317

  4. A dinosaurian facial deformity and the first occurrence of ameloblastoma in the fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Dumbravă, Mihai D.; Rothschild, Bruce M.; Weishampel, David B.; Csiki-Sava, Zoltán; Andrei, Răzvan A.; Acheson, Katharine A.; Codrea, Vlad A.

    2016-01-01

    Despite documentation of various types of neoplastic pathologies encountered in the vertebrate fossil record, no ameloblastic tumours have been recognised so far. Ameloblastoma is a benign neoplasic tumour with a strong preponderance for the mandible. Here, we report for the first time the presence of an ameloblastoma neoplasm in the lower jaw of a specimen referred to the derived non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroid dinosaur Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus from the uppermost Cretaceous of the Haeg Basin in Romania. The location, external appearance and internal structure of the pathological outgrowth provide clear evidence for the diagnosis of ameloblastoma in Telmatosaurus. This report extends the range of pathologies encountered in hadrosauroid dinosaurs. In addition, recognition of an ameloblastoma neoplasm in a taxon lying close to the origin of ‘duck-billed’ hadrosaurid dinosaurs confirms the predisposition of this clade towards neoplasia pathologies already in its basal members. PMID:27377317

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

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

    PubMed

    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.

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

    PubMed

    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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. Fish as a proxy for African paleogeography: results from both extant and fossil taxa and prospects to constrain faunal exchange pathway through time

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Otero, Olga; Joordens, Josephine; Dettai, Agnès; Christ, Leemans; Pinton, Aurélie

    2016-04-01

    We assume that basin boundaries constitute barriers to dispersal for freshwater fish and as a consequence that basin geomorphology and connectivity, and its changes through time, can be reconstructed thanks to fish evolutionary history. Firstly, this primary intuitive hypothesis is supported by patterns of fish distribution in the different basins and sub-basins of modern Africa, at both a specific and a generic level, and in certain cases at a family level. This is illustrated by the fact that hydrographical basin boundaries are reflected in the ichthyological provinces as defined and used by ichthyologists for a long time. Moreover, we show that at a continental scale, the hierarchical fish distribution patterns fit with main geological and climatic events according to their depth in time and amplitude [1]. Secondly, we further tested this hypothesis in several ways: (1) through the phylogeographical study of the catfish genus Synodontis [2], chosen because of its modern distribution and its rich fossil record, and (2) through the examination of the fossil record and systematics of the African lungfish Protopterus [3], of the catfish Calarius and of an extinct acanthomorph fish called Semlikiichthys [4,5]. We were then able to correlate these fish histories with quaternary climate change and with geological events throughout the Tertiary in Africa. Our conclusions are also corroborated by existing fish phylogenies that overlap with our region of interest, and elsewhere. While in the last years an increasing number of molecular phylogenetical studies support correlation between fish evolution and basin history at shallow time scales, our studies (and a few other studies) also demonstrate the relevance of fish evolution to work at deeper time and larger geological scales, depending on the taxon distribution and age. Moreover, we plead for the inclusion of fossils when available. Indeed, for extant taxa they are useful to calibrate molecular clocks but also to

  14. 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)

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. Tectonometamorphic record in a fossilized subduction channel: insights from the Cycladic Blueschist Unit (Cyclades, Greece)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Laurent, Valentin; Roche, Vincent; Jolivet, Laurent; Lanari, Pierre; Augier, Romain; Scaillet, Stéphane

    2016-04-01

    The comprehension of subduction dynamics is partly based on the reconstruction of detailed Pressure-Temperature-time-deformation paths of HP-LT metamorphic rocks, which have undergone a complete burial-exhumation cycle. The Cycladic Blueschist Unit (CBU), located in the Aegean domain (Greece), is one of the best examples of a fossilized subduction channel. The tectonometamorphic history of this domain can be summarized in two successive episodes: (1) From the Paleocene to the Eocene, the formation of the Hellenides-Taurides belt due to the convergence between Eurasia and Africa. During this episode, the entrance of the Apulian crust in the subduction zone led to an episode of crustal thickening and formation-exhumation of HP-LT metamorphic units like the CBU. (2) From the Early Oligocene, consecutively to the retreat of the African slab, back-arc extension affected the previously thickened crust and the Aegean Sea started to form. Syros and Sifnos islands are worldwide known for their excellent preservation of HP-LT parageneses in the CBU, providing one of the best case-studies to understand the tectonometamorphic evolution of a subduction channel. This study aims to decipher the P-T-t-d path of the CBU using for the first time on Syros, Raman spectroscopy of carbonaceous material to constrain metamorphic peak temperature (Beyssac et al., 2002) and a quantitative X-ray micro-mapping approach together with the program XMapTools (Lanari et al., 2014). The micro-mapping tools allowed extracting local chemical compositions observed in zoned garnets to calculate the local effective bulk composition. Forward models are then created to constrain P-T conditions of crystallization of these local assemblages. This study brings new data on the debated metamorphic peak conditions of the CBU, which undoubtedly attained at least 20 ± 2 kbar / 530 ± 50°C. Additionally, the geological and metamorphic maps of Syros and Sifnos have been totally redrawn in order to decipher the

  20. 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

  1. Review of the monotreme fossil record and comparison of palaeontological and molecular data.

    PubMed

    Musser, A M

    2003-12-01

    Monotremes have traditionally been considered a remnant group of mammals descended from archaic Mesozoic stock, surviving to the present day on the relatively isolated Australian continent. Challenges to this orthodoxy have been spurred by discoveries of 'advanced' Cretaceous monotremes (Steropodon galmani, Archer, M., et al., 1985. First Mesozoic mammal from Australia-an Early Cretaceous monotreme, Nature. 318, 363-366) as well as by results from molecular data linking monotremes to therian mammals (specifically to marsupials in some studies). This paper reviews the monotreme fossil record and briefly discusses significant new information from additional Cretaceous Australian material. Mesozoic monotremes (including S. galmani) were a diverse group as evidenced by new material from the Early Cretaceous of New South Wales and Victoria currently under study. Although most of these new finds are edentulous jaws (limiting dental comparisons and determination of dietary niches), a range of sizes and forms has been determined. Some of these Cretaceous jaws exhibit archaic features-in particular evidence for the presence of a splenial bone in S. galmani-not seen in therian mammals or in post-Mesozoic (Tertiary and Quaternary) monotreme taxa. Tertiary monotremes were either archaic ornithorhynchids (toothed platypuses in the genera Monotrematum and Obdurodon) or tachyglossids (large echidnas in the genera Megalibgwilia and Zaglossus). Quaternary ornithorhynchid material is referable to the sole living platypus species Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Quaternary echidnas, however, were moderately diverse and several forms are known (Megalibgwilia species; 'Zaglossus' hacketti; Zaglossus species and Tachyglossus aculeatus).

  2. First forensic records of termite activity on non-fossilized human bones in Brazil.

    PubMed

    Queiroz, R A; Soriano, E P; Carvalho, M V D; Caldas-Junior, A F; Souza, E H A; Coelho-Junior, L G T M; Campello, R I C; Almeida, A C; Farias, R C A P; Vasconcellos, A

    2016-07-25

    The aim of this study was to describe the first records of termite activity on non-fossilized human bones in Brazil. The cases reported in this study resulted from forensic analysis of six human skeletons found in northeastern Brazil between 2012 and 2014. Traces of tunnels and nests commonly produced by termites were found on several human bone surfaces as well as the specimens and characteristic signs of osteophagic activity. In four cases, the species were identified: Amitermes amifer Silvestri, 1901, Nasutitermes corniger (Motschulsky, 1855) (on two skeletons), and Microcerotermes indistinctus Mathews, 1977. In two other cases, the activity of termites on bone surfaces was evidenced by remains of nests and tunnels produced by these insects. At least in the samples of human remains available for this report, the number of termites collected was greater on bones found during autumn, the rainy season in the Northeast of Brazil. The human bones examined showed termites like insects with lots of strength at bone degradation, capable of continuing the process of decomposition of human remains even in completely skeletonized bodies. PMID:27463832

  3. First forensic records of termite activity on non-fossilized human bones in Brazil.

    PubMed

    Queiroz, R A; Soriano, E P; Carvalho, M V D; Caldas-Junior, A F; Souza, E H A; Coelho-Junior, L G T M; Campello, R I C; Almeida, A C; Farias, R C A P; Vasconcellos, A

    2016-07-25

    The aim of this study was to describe the first records of termite activity on non-fossilized human bones in Brazil. The cases reported in this study resulted from forensic analysis of six human skeletons found in northeastern Brazil between 2012 and 2014. Traces of tunnels and nests commonly produced by termites were found on several human bone surfaces as well as the specimens and characteristic signs of osteophagic activity. In four cases, the species were identified: Amitermes amifer Silvestri, 1901, Nasutitermes corniger (Motschulsky, 1855) (on two skeletons), and Microcerotermes indistinctus Mathews, 1977. In two other cases, the activity of termites on bone surfaces was evidenced by remains of nests and tunnels produced by these insects. At least in the samples of human remains available for this report, the number of termites collected was greater on bones found during autumn, the rainy season in the Northeast of Brazil. The human bones examined showed termites like insects with lots of strength at bone degradation, capable of continuing the process of decomposition of human remains even in completely skeletonized bodies.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-04-22

    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 Col2α1 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.

  10. Archaean Crustal Growth, Proterozoic Terrane Amalgamation and the Pan-African Orogeny, as Recorded in the NE African Sedimentary Record.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Najman, Y.; Fielding, L.; Millar, I.; Butterworth, P.; Andò, S.; Padoan, M.; Barfod, D. N.; Kneller, B. C.

    2015-12-01

    The cratons of Central Africa are formed of various blocks of Archaean and Palaeoproterozoic crust, flanked or truncated by Palaeoproterozoic to Mesoproterozoic orogenic belts. The geology of east Africa has largely been shaped by the events of the Pan-African Orogeny when east and west Gondwana collided to form 'Greater Gondwana' at the end of the Neoproterozoic. The Pan-African orogeny in NE Africa involved the collision of Archaean cratons and the Saharan Metacraton with the Arabian Nubian Shield, a terrane comprising Neoproterozoic juvenile oceanic island arcs. Phanerozoic cover sedimentary rocks, eroded from the Pan-African orogenies, blanket much of NE Africa. Detrital data from these Phanerozoic cover sedimentary rocks, and modern rivers draining both the cover the basement, provide a wealth of information on basement evolution, of particular relevance for regions where the basement itself is poorly exposed due to ancient or modern sedimentary cover. From samples collected in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, we provide combined U-Pb and Hf-isotope zircon, U-Pb rutile and Ar-Ar mica datasets, heavy mineral analyses, and bulk trace element data, from Archaean basement, Phanerozoic cover and modern river sediment from the Nile and its tributaries to document the evolution of the North African crust. The data document early crust-forming events in the Congo Craton and Sahara Metacraton, phased development of the Arabian Nubian Shield culminating in the Neoproterozoic assembly of Gondwana during the Pan African Orogeny, and the orogen's subsequent erosion, with deposition of voluminous Phanerozoic cover.

  11. Egg size evolution in tropical American arcid bivalves: the comparative method and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Moran, Amy L

    2004-12-01

    Marine organisms exhibit a wide range of egg sizes, even among closely related taxa, and egg size is widely considered to be one of the most important components of the life histories of marine species. The nature of the trade-off between egg size and number and the consequences of variation in egg size for offspring growth and survivorship have been extensively modeled. Yet, there is little empirical evidence that supports the relative importance of particular environmental parameters in engendering the tremendous variation in egg size seen in marine organisms. This study compares egg sizes between six geminate species pairs of bivalves in the family Arcidae to determine whether egg size differs in predictable directions between geminate species in the two oceans separated by the Central American isthmus, and whether the direction and timing of egg size evolution among geminates in this family is correlated with both modern and paleoceanographic patterns of oceanic productivity. In all modern members of six geminate pairs, egg size was larger in the species in the western Atlantic than in its sister species the eastern Pacific. This pattern supports the hypothesis that optimal egg size differs in the two oceans due to the low productivity and poor larval feeding environment in the western Atlantic relative to the eastern Pacific. The fossil record of one geminate pair shows that egg size has remained consistently large in the western Atlantic from the Miocene to the Recent, while egg size in the eastern Pacific has decreased to the current small size in less than 2 million years; this suggests that modern-day differences between egg sizes in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific are due to either an increase in productivity in the eastern Pacific and subsequent selection for smaller eggs in that ocean, or differential patterns of extinction that occurred well after the rise of the isthmus. These results agree with ancestral character state reconstruction using

  12. The right of patients to have access to their medical records: the position in South African law.

    PubMed

    de Klerk, A

    1993-01-01

    In this article an investigation is undertaken into the right in South African law of a patient to have access to medical records concerning himself or herself, and the ownership of medical records in South African law is also discussed. It is argued that record accessibility by patients is to be favoured. The author is of the opinion that the South African legislature should consider legislation in this regard.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. †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.

  18. †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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Exceptionally preserved North American Paleogene metatherians: adaptations and discovery of a major gap in the opossum fossil record.

    PubMed

    Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo; Ladevèze, Sandrine; Horovitz, Inés; Argot, Christine; Hooker, Jeremy J; Macrini, Thomas E; Martin, Thomas; Moore-Fay, Scott; de Muizon, Christian; Schmelzle, Thomas; Asher, Robert J

    2007-06-22

    A major gap in our knowledge of the evolution of marsupial mammals concerns the Paleogene of the northern continents, a critical time and place to link the early history of metatherians in Asia and North America with the more recent diversification in South America and Australia. We studied new exceptionally well-preserved partial skeletons of the Early Oligocene fossil Herpetotherium from the White River Formation in Wyoming, which allowed us to test the relationships of this taxon and examine its adaptations. Herpetotheriidae, with a fossil record extending from the Cretaceous to the Miocene, has traditionally been allied with opossums (Didelphidae) based on fragmentary material, mainly dentitions. Analysis of the new material reveals that several aspects of the cranial and postcranial anatomy, some of which suggests a terrestrial lifestyle, distinguish Herpetotherium from opossums. We found that Herpetotherium is the sister group to the crown group Marsupialia and is not a stem didelphid. Combination of the new palaeontological data with molecular divergence estimates, suggests the presence of a long undocumented gap in the fossil record of opossums extending some 45Myr from the Early Miocene to the Cretaceous.

  3. A first record of Cretaceous aphids (Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Aphidomorpha) in Australia, from the Lower Cretaceous Koonwarra Fossil Bed, Victoria.

    PubMed

    Martin, Sarah K; Skidmore, Luke I; Stilwell, Jeffrey D

    2016-01-01

    This paper describes the first species of aphid from the Lower Cretaceous Koonwarra Fossil Bed of the Gippsland Basin, southeastern Victoria, Australia. This aphid, herein named Koonwarraphis rotundafrons gen. & sp. nov., is assigned to the cosmopolitan Cretaceous superfamily Tajmyraphidoidea, which has been previously described from the Lebanese, Taimyrian, Canadian, Myanmar (Burmese), and Spanish ambers. Koonwarraphis rotundafrons is the first aphid recorded from the eastern Gondwanan landmass during the Cretaceous, and represents the only tajmyraphidoid preserved as a compression fossil, rather than as an amber inclusion. Due to the nature of the fossil's preservation, Koonwarraphis cannot be firmly placed in any of the described tajmyraphidoid families; however, all observable morphological features suggest that the genus is broadly typical of the superfamily and Cretaceous aphids in general. Koonwarraphis' shortened rostrum, a feature also seen in other tajmyraphidoids, suggests an association with the more herbaceous aspects of the Early Cretaceous Victorian flora. Considering the modern aphid preference for angiosperm plants, it is possible that this aphid was living upon the herbaceous early angiosperms recorded previously from the Koonwarra macrofloral assemblage. PMID:27395744

  4. 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

  5. Phylogeography of Douglas-fir based on mitochondrial and chloroplast DNA sequences: testing hypotheses from the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Gugger, Paul F; Sugita, Shinya; Cavender-Bares, Jeannine

    2010-05-01

    The integration of fossil and molecular data can provide a synthetic understanding of the ecological and evolutionary history of an organism. We analysed range-wide maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA and paternally inherited chloroplast DNA sequence data with coalescent simulations and traditional population genetic methods to test hypotheses of population divergence generated from the fossil record of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), an ecologically and economically important western North American conifer. Specifically, we tested (i) the hypothesis that the Pliocene orogeny of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada caused the divergence of coastal and Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir varieties; and (ii) the hypothesis that multiple glacial refugia existed on the coast and in the Rocky Mountains. We found that Douglas-fir varieties diverged about 2.11 Ma (4.37 Ma-755 ka), which could be consistent with a Pliocene divergence. Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir probably resided in three or more glacial refugia. More variable molecular markers would be required to detect the two coastal refugia suggested in the fossil record. Comparison of mitochondrial DNA and chloroplast DNA variation revealed that gene flow via pollen linked populations isolated from seed exchange. Postglacial colonization of Canada from coastal and Rocky Mountain refugia near the ice margin at the Last Glacial Maximum produced a wide hybrid zone among varieties that formed almost exclusively by pollen exchange and chloroplast DNA introgression, not seed exchange. Postglacial migration rates were 50-165 m/year, insufficient to track projected 21st century warming in some regions. Although fossil and genetic data largely agree, each provides unique insights. PMID:20374486

  6. Fossil isotope records of seasonal climate and ecology: Straight from the horse's mouth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sharp, Z. D.; Cerling, T. E.

    1998-03-01

    Isotope analysis of a bulk fossil tooth gives a “snapshot” impression of paleoclimatic conditions—a single point in time. However, hypsodont teeth grow over a period of a year or more, so that stable carbon and oxygen isotope variations along their length are a “tape recorder” of short-term seasonal variations from the distant past. We have used a new in situ micro-laser sampling method to determine submillimeter carbon and oxygen isotope variations in the enamel of individual fossil horse teeth to assess ancient annual meteoric water variations and feeding patterns. The δ18O values from a 6.8 Ma fossil horse tooth (Astrohippus ansae) from Texas vary cyclically along the 6 cm length of the tooth with a smoothed amplitude of >4‰, similar to the monthly averaged amplitude measured in modern meteoric waters from the region. The seasonal δ18O values are ˜3‰ to 4‰ higher than those calculated from modern meteoric water data, suggesting either a higher local meteoric water value in the Miocene of Texas, or that the animal received a high proportion of its dietary water from plants or highly evaporated water. A Holocene horse tooth from the shores of Glacial Lake Agassiz, North Dakota (Equus sp.), also has isotopic variations with the same 35 mm periodicity, but a smoothed amplitude of only 2‰. This horse most likely had a buffered drinking supply. The calculated δ18O of the water in equilibrium with this tooth is the same as the modern measured annual average. The variations within a single tooth can be as large as those generally observed in entire stratigraphic sections of fossil teeth analyzed by bulk methods. The new method provides an important technique for evaluating fossil diagenesis; conventional bulk analyses of teeth fragments may not be representative of the whole tooth, thus explaining analytical scatter that has been previously attributed to diagenesis.

  7. 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.

  8. A 5000-year fossil record of larval shell morphology of submarine cave microshells.

    PubMed

    Ubukata, Takao; Kitamura, Akihisa; Hiramoto, Mayumi; Kase, Tomoki

    2009-01-01

    A 5000-year fossil series of minute submarine cave bivalves was studied using morphometric and evolutionary analyses. The obtained results indicate that the shapes of larval shells of studied species were labile, whereas the size of the larval shell was stable in each species studied. This result is different than that previously reported in most other studies in which size change is more common than shape change. This unique evolutionary pattern of these bivalves might be attributed to their refugial lifestyle. PMID:19146597

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. The baryon halo of the milky way: A fossil record of its formation

    PubMed

    Bland-Hawthorn; Freeman

    2000-01-01

    Astronomers believe that the baryon (stellar) halo of the Milky Way retains a fossil imprint of how it was formed. But a vast literature shows that the struggle to interpret the observations within a consistent framework continues. The evidence indicates that the halo has built up through a process of accretion and merging over billions of years, which is still going on at a low level. Future satellite missions to derive three-dimensional space motions and heavy element (metal) abundances for a billion stars will disentangle the existing web and elucidate how galaxies like our own came into existence.

  16. The bubble fossil record: insight into boiling nucleation using nanofluid pool-boiling

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Huitink, David; Ontiveros, Elvis Efren Dominguez; Hassan, Yassin

    2012-02-01

    Subcooled pool boiling of Al2O3/water nanofluid (0.1 vol%) was investigated. Scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy were used to observe surface features of the wire heater where nanoparticles had deposited. A layer of aggregated alumina particles collected on the heated surface, where evidence of fluid shear associated with bubble nucleation and departure was "fossilized" in the fluidized nano-porous surface coating. These structures contain evidence of the fluid forces present in the microlayer prior to departure and provide a unique understanding of boiling phenomena. A unique mode of heat transfer was identified in nanofluid pool boiling.

  17. Phylogenomic dating--a method of constraining the age of microbial taxa that lack a conventional fossil record.

    PubMed

    Blank, Carrine E

    2009-03-01

    A phylogenomic dating approach was used to identify potential age constraints for multiple archaeal groups, many of which have no fossil, isotopic, or biomarker record. First, well-resolved phylogenetic trees were inferred with the use of multiple gene sequences obtained from whole genome sequences. Next, the ability to use oxygen as a terminal electron acceptor was coded into characters, and ancestral state reconstruction was used to identify clades with taxa that metabolize oxygen and likely had an aerobic ancestor. Next, the habitat of the ancestor was inferred. If the local presence of Cyanobacteria could be excluded from the putative ancestral habitat, then these clades would have originated after the rise in atmospheric oxygen 2.32 Ga. With this method, an upper age of 2.32 Ga (an "oxygen age constraint") is proposed for four major archaeal clades: the Sulfolobales, Thermoplasmatales, Thermoproteus neutrophilus/Pyrobaculum spp., and the Thermoproteales. It was also shown that the halophilic archaea likely had an aerobic common ancestor, yet the possibility of local oxygen oases before oxygenation of the atmosphere could not be formally rejected. Thus, an oxygen age constraint was not assessed for this group. This work suggests that many archaeal groups are not as ancient as many in the research community have previously assumed, and it provides a new method for establishing upper age constraints for major microbial groups that lack a conventional fossil record.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. Phylogenomic Dating-A Method of Constraining the Age of Microbial Taxa That Lack a Conventional Fossil Record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Blank, Carrine E.

    2009-03-01

    A phylogenomic dating approach was used to identify potential age constraints for multiple archaeal groups, many of which have no fossil, isotopic, or biomarker record. First, well-resolved phylogenetic trees were inferred with the use of multiple gene sequences obtained from whole genome sequences. Next, the ability to use oxygen as a terminal electron acceptor was coded into characters, and ancestral state reconstruction was used to identify clades with taxa that metabolize oxygen and likely had an aerobic ancestor. Next, the habitat of the ancestor was inferred. If the local presence of Cyanobacteria could be excluded from the putative ancestral habitat, then these clades would have originated after the rise in atmospheric oxygen 2.32 Ga. With this method, an upper age of 2.32 Ga (an "oxygen age constraint") is proposed for four major archaeal clades: the Sulfolobales, Thermoplasmatales, Thermoproteus neutrophilus/Pyrobaculum spp., and the Thermoproteales. It was also shown that the halophilic archaea likely had an aerobic common ancestor, yet the possibility of local oxygen oases before oxygenation of the atmosphere could not be formally rejected. Thus, an oxygen age constraint was not assessed for this group. This work suggests that many archaeal groups are not as ancient as many in the research community have previously assumed, and it provides a new method for establishing upper age constraints for major microbial groups that lack a conventional fossil record.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. Microbe-like inclusions in tree resins and implications for the fossil record of protists in amber.

    PubMed

    Thiel, V; Lausmaa, J; Sjövall, P; Ragazzi, E; Seyfullah, L J; Schmidt, A R

    2016-07-01

    During the past two decades, a plethora of fossil micro-organisms have been described from various Triassic to Miocene ambers. However, in addition to entrapped microbes, ambers commonly contain microscopic inclusions that sometimes resemble amoebae, ciliates, microfungi, and unicellular algae in size and shape, but do not provide further diagnostic features thereof. For a better assessment of the actual fossil record of unicellular eukaryotes in amber, we studied equivalent inclusions in modern resin of the Araucariaceae; this conifer family comprises important amber-producers in Earth history. Using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), we investigated the chemical nature of the inclusion matter and the resin matrix. Whereas the matrix, as expected, showed a more hydrocarbon/aromatic-dominated composition, the inclusions contain abundant salt ions and polar organics. However, the absence of signals characteristic for cellular biomass, namely distinctive proteinaceous amino acids and lipid moieties, indicates that the inclusions do not contain microbial cellular matter but salts and hydrophilic organic substances that probably derived from the plant itself. Rather than representing protists or their remains, these microbe-like inclusions, for which we propose the term 'pseudoinclusions', consist of compounds that are immiscible with the terpenoid resin matrix and were probably secreted in small amounts together with the actual resin by the plant tissue. Consequently, reports of protists from amber that are only based on the similarity of the overall shape and size to extant taxa, but do not provide relevant features at light-microscopical and ultrastructural level, cannot be accepted as unambiguous fossil evidence for these particular groups.

  5. Microbe-like inclusions in tree resins and implications for the fossil record of protists in amber.

    PubMed

    Thiel, V; Lausmaa, J; Sjövall, P; Ragazzi, E; Seyfullah, L J; Schmidt, A R

    2016-07-01

    During the past two decades, a plethora of fossil micro-organisms have been described from various Triassic to Miocene ambers. However, in addition to entrapped microbes, ambers commonly contain microscopic inclusions that sometimes resemble amoebae, ciliates, microfungi, and unicellular algae in size and shape, but do not provide further diagnostic features thereof. For a better assessment of the actual fossil record of unicellular eukaryotes in amber, we studied equivalent inclusions in modern resin of the Araucariaceae; this conifer family comprises important amber-producers in Earth history. Using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), we investigated the chemical nature of the inclusion matter and the resin matrix. Whereas the matrix, as expected, showed a more hydrocarbon/aromatic-dominated composition, the inclusions contain abundant salt ions and polar organics. However, the absence of signals characteristic for cellular biomass, namely distinctive proteinaceous amino acids and lipid moieties, indicates that the inclusions do not contain microbial cellular matter but salts and hydrophilic organic substances that probably derived from the plant itself. Rather than representing protists or their remains, these microbe-like inclusions, for which we propose the term 'pseudoinclusions', consist of compounds that are immiscible with the terpenoid resin matrix and were probably secreted in small amounts together with the actual resin by the plant tissue. Consequently, reports of protists from amber that are only based on the similarity of the overall shape and size to extant taxa, but do not provide relevant features at light-microscopical and ultrastructural level, cannot be accepted as unambiguous fossil evidence for these particular groups. PMID:27027519

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. Atmospheric methane isotopic record favors fossil sources flat in 1980s and 1990s with recent increase.

    PubMed

    Rice, Andrew L; Butenhoff, Christopher L; Teama, Doaa G; Röger, Florian H; Khalil, M Aslam K; Rasmussen, Reinhold A

    2016-09-27

    Observations of atmospheric methane (CH4) since the late 1970s and measurements of CH4 trapped in ice and snow reveal a meteoric rise in concentration during much of the twentieth century. Since 1750, levels of atmospheric CH4 have more than doubled to current globally averaged concentration near 1,800 ppb. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the CH4 growth rate slowed substantially and was near or at zero between 1999 and 2006. There is no scientific consensus on the drivers of this slowdown. Here, we report measurements of the stable isotopic composition of atmospheric CH4 ((13)C/(12)C and D/H) from a rare air archive dating from 1977 to 1998. Together with more modern records of isotopic atmospheric CH4, we performed a time-dependent retrieval of methane fluxes spanning 25 y (1984-2009) using a 3D chemical transport model. This inversion results in a 24 [18, 27] Tg y(-1) CH4 increase in fugitive fossil fuel emissions since 1984 with most of this growth occurring after year 2000. This result is consistent with some bottom-up emissions inventories but not with recent estimates based on atmospheric ethane. In fact, when forced with decreasing emissions from fossil fuel sources our inversion estimates unreasonably high emissions in other sources. Further, the inversion estimates a decrease in biomass-burning emissions that could explain falling ethane abundance. A range of sensitivity tests suggests that these results are robust.

  11. 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

  12. Atmospheric methane isotopic record favors fossil sources flat in 1980s and 1990s with recent increase.

    PubMed

    Rice, Andrew L; Butenhoff, Christopher L; Teama, Doaa G; Röger, Florian H; Khalil, M Aslam K; Rasmussen, Reinhold A

    2016-09-27

    Observations of atmospheric methane (CH4) since the late 1970s and measurements of CH4 trapped in ice and snow reveal a meteoric rise in concentration during much of the twentieth century. Since 1750, levels of atmospheric CH4 have more than doubled to current globally averaged concentration near 1,800 ppb. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the CH4 growth rate slowed substantially and was near or at zero between 1999 and 2006. There is no scientific consensus on the drivers of this slowdown. Here, we report measurements of the stable isotopic composition of atmospheric CH4 ((13)C/(12)C and D/H) from a rare air archive dating from 1977 to 1998. Together with more modern records of isotopic atmospheric CH4, we performed a time-dependent retrieval of methane fluxes spanning 25 y (1984-2009) using a 3D chemical transport model. This inversion results in a 24 [18, 27] Tg y(-1) CH4 increase in fugitive fossil fuel emissions since 1984 with most of this growth occurring after year 2000. This result is consistent with some bottom-up emissions inventories but not with recent estimates based on atmospheric ethane. In fact, when forced with decreasing emissions from fossil fuel sources our inversion estimates unreasonably high emissions in other sources. Further, the inversion estimates a decrease in biomass-burning emissions that could explain falling ethane abundance. A range of sensitivity tests suggests that these results are robust. PMID:27621453

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Johnson, K.R.; Nichols, D.J.; Attrep, M.; 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.

  14. Fossil pollen records indicate that Patagonian desertification was not solely a consequence of Andean uplift.

    PubMed

    Palazzesi, L; Barreda, V D; Cuitiño, J I; Guler, M V; Tellería, M C; Ventura Santos, R

    2014-01-01

    The Patagonian steppe-a massive rain-shadow on the lee side of the southern Andes-is assumed to have evolved ~15-12 Myr as a consequence of the southern Andean uplift. However, fossil evidence supporting this assumption is limited. Here we quantitatively estimate climatic conditions and plant richness for the interval ~10-6 Myr based on the study and bioclimatic analysis of terrestrially derived spore-pollen assemblages preserved in well-constrained Patagonian marine deposits. Our analyses indicate a mesothermal climate, with mean temperatures of the coldest quarter between 11.4 °C and 16.9 °C (presently ~3.5 °C) and annual precipitation rarely below 661 mm (presently ~200 mm). Rarefied richness reveals a significantly more diverse flora during the late Miocene than today at the same latitude but comparable with that approximately 2,000 km further northeast at mid-latitudes on the Brazilian coast. We infer that the Patagonian desertification was not solely a consequence of the Andean uplift as previously insinuated. PMID:24675482

  15. Fossil pollen records indicate that Patagonian desertification was not solely a consequence of Andean uplift

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Palazzesi, L.; Barreda, V. D.; Cuitiño, J. I.; Guler, M. V.; Tellería, M. C.; Ventura Santos, R.

    2014-03-01

    The Patagonian steppe—a massive rain-shadow on the lee side of the southern Andes—is assumed to have evolved ~15-12 Myr as a consequence of the southern Andean uplift. However, fossil evidence supporting this assumption is limited. Here we quantitatively estimate climatic conditions and plant richness for the interval ~10-6 Myr based on the study and bioclimatic analysis of terrestrially derived spore-pollen assemblages preserved in well-constrained Patagonian marine deposits. Our analyses indicate a mesothermal climate, with mean temperatures of the coldest quarter between 11.4 °C and 16.9 °C (presently ~3.5 °C) and annual precipitation rarely below 661 mm (presently ~200 mm). Rarefied richness reveals a significantly more diverse flora during the late Miocene than today at the same latitude but comparable with that approximately 2,000 km further northeast at mid-latitudes on the Brazilian coast. We infer that the Patagonian desertification was not solely a consequence of the Andean uplift as previously insinuated.

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

    PubMed

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

    2004-07-13

    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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Droser, Mary L.; Jensen, Sören; Gehling, James G.

    2002-01-01

    The trace fossil record is important in determining the timing of the appearance of bilaterian animals. A conservative estimate puts this time at ≈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 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

  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 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.

  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. Overgrowth competition between clades: implications for interpretation of the fossil record and overgrowth indices.

    PubMed

    Barnes, D K; Dick, M H

    2000-08-01

    Overgrowth interactions (2693 in total) were observed among three major groups (arguably clades) of bryozoans--cheilostomatids (57 species), ctenostomatids (3 species), and cyclostomatids (14 species). The bryozoans studied here occur in shallow water at high-temperate polar latitudes where they encrust hard substrata such as rock piles. The main study site was the intertidal and infralittoral zones of Kodiak Island, Alaska, but observations were also made in similar zones of South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. Cheilostomatids dominated the number of species, individuals, and interactions at all depths. Intraclade interactions formed 73.7% of the encounters for cheilostomatids, 1.6% for ctenostomatids, and 5.7% for cyclostomatids. The competitive ranking of the three clades was broadly ctenostomatids > cyclostomatids > cheilostomatids. Significantly, these results contradict all previous quantitative studies of bryozoan overgrowth, in which cheilostomatids are reported to overgrow cyclostomatids at a higher rate. From these studies and the literature, we calculated win indices to vary from 0 to 0.42 for living cyclostomatids, from 0.08 to 0.9 for living cheilostomatids, and from 0.25 to 0.75 for living ctenostomatids. The win indices of cyclostomatid and cheilostomatid clades show significantly more variation in living assemblages than in fossil assemblages. This disparity may be due to differential preservation (polar and subpolar assemblages last less than 4 years). The diversity was very high in terms of both species richness and interaction types (outcomes between competitor pairs). Comparison with the literature suggests the possibility that nearshore diversity of bryozoans may be bimodal (have two peaks) between high arctic and antarctic latitudes. Indices of success in overgrowth competition have been constructed in various ways. For cheilostomatids, the method of calculation had little influence on the ranking of

  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

    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

  5. Quantitative palaeotemperature records inferred from fossil pollen and chironomid assemblages from Lake Gilltjärnen, northern central Sweden

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Antonsson, Karin; Brooks, Stephen J.; Seppä, Heikki; Telford, Richard J.; Birks, H. John B.

    2006-12-01

    Palaeotemperature reconstructions based on radiocarbon-dated fossil pollen and chironomid stratigraphies obtained from Lake Gilltjärnen provide evidence of climate changes during the last 11 000 years in the boreal zone of northern central Sweden. The records show consistent trends during the early and mid-Holocene, indicating low temperatures at 11 000-10 000 cal. yr BP, followed by a rising trend and a period of maximum values from about 7000 to 4000 cal. yr BP. At 3000 cal. yr BP the chironomid-inferred temperature values rise abruptly, deviating from the late-Holocene cooling trend indicated by the pollen-based reconstruction and most of the other palaeotemperature records from central Scandinavia, probably as a result of local limnological changes in Lake Gilltjärnen and its catchment. Comparison of the present results with a lake-level reconstruction from Lake Ljustjärnen, ca. 100 km southwest of Lake Gilltjärnen, shows that the low early-Holocene temperatures were associated with high lake-levels at 10 500-8500 cal. yr BP, whereas low lake-levels and dry conditions prevailed during the period of high temperatures at between 7500 and 5000 cal.yrBP, probably due to high summer evapotranspiration and lower precipitation. Copyright

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. Scaling relationships between craniofacial sexual dimorphism and body mass dimorphism in primates: implications for the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Plavcan, J Michael

    2003-01-01

    Craniofacial remains (the most abundant identifiable remains in the fossil record) potentially offer important information about body size dimorphism in extinct species. This study evaluates the scaling relationships between body mass dimorphism and different measures of craniofacial dimorphism, evaluating taxonomic differences in the magnitude and scaling of craniofacial dimorphism across higher taxonomic groups. Data on 40 dimensions from 129 primate species and subspecies demonstrate that few dimensions change proportionally with body mass dimorphism. Primates show general patterns of greater facial vs. neurocranial and orbital dimorphism, and greater dimorphism in lengths as opposed to breadths. Within any species, though, different craniofacial dimensions can yield very different reconstructions of size dimorphism. There are significant taxonomic differences in the relationships between size and craniofacial dimorphism among primate groups that can have a significant impact on reconstructions of body mass dimorphism. Hominoids tend to show lower degrees of facial dimorphism proportional to size dimorphism than other primates. This in turn implies that strong craniofacial dimorphism in Australopithecus africanus could imply very strong body size dimorphism, conflicting with the relatively modest size dimorphism inferred from postcrania. Different methods of estimating the magnitude of size dimorphism from craniofacial measurements yield similar results, and yield comparatively low percent prediction errors for a number of dimensions. However, confidence intervals for most estimates are so large as to render most estimates highly tentative.

  11. Major adaptive radiation in neritopsine gastropods estimated from 28S rRNA sequences and fossil records.

    PubMed

    Kano, Yasunori; Chiba, Satoshi; Kase, Tomoki

    2002-12-01

    A well-supported phylogeny of the Neritopsina, a gastropod superorder archaic in origin, radiated ecologically and diverse in morphology, is reconstructed based on partial 28S rRNA sequences. The result (Neritopsidae (Hydrocenidae (Helicinidae + Neritiliidae) (Neritidae + Phenacolepadidae))) is highly congruent with the fossil records and the character distribution of reproductive tracts in extant taxa. We suggest that the Neritopsina originated in subtidal shallow waters, invaded the land and became fully terrestrial at least three times in different clades, by the extinct Dawsonellidae in the Late Palaeozoic and by the Helicinidae and Hydrocenidae in the Mesozoic. Invasion of fresh- and brackish waters is prevalent among the Neritopsina as the Jurassic and freshwater ancestory is most probable for helicinids. The Phenacolepadidae, a group exclusively inhabiting dysoxic environments, colonized deep-sea hydrothermal vents and seeps in the Late Cretaceous or Early Cenozoic. Submarine caves have served as refuges for the archaic Neritopsidae since the Early to Middle Cenozoic, and the marine neritopsine slug Titiscania represents a highly specialized but relatively recent offshoot of this family. The Neritiliidae is another clade to be found utilizing submarine caves as shelter by the Oligocene; once adapted to the completely dark environment, but some neritiliids have immigrated to surface freshwater habitats. PMID:12495489

  12. 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.

  13. Grazing trails formed by soldier fly larvae (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) and their paleoenvironmental and paleoecological implications for the fossil record

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Mangano, M.G.; Buatois, L.A.; Claps, G.L.

    1996-01-01

    Recent trails formed by soldier fly larvae (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) were examined in a shallow pond in the floodplain of a braided river in Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina. Collected specimens were identified as Stratiomys convexa van der Wulp. Simple, irregularly meandering trails were produced across the surface of a muddy-silty substrate. Since soldier fly larvae extend their caudal respiratory tube to the water-air interface, they are restricted to extremely shallow water. The presence of benthic algal remains within the mouthparts of the larvae suggests a feeding habit of algal grazing. If preserved, these trails would be included in the ichnogenus Helminthopsis, a common element in ancient freshwater ichnofaunas. Helminthopsis preserved in pond and lacustrine margin deposits younger than Late Jurassic is regarded as one possible trace fossil analogue of the trails documented herein. Additionally, it is suggested that larvae of many aquatic Diptera with similar ecologic restrictions are potential tracemakers of Helminthopsis and other simple trails in these environments, particularly in post-Paleozoic deposits. Studies of modern shallow aquatic habitats and reexamination of the ichnologic record stress the importance of fly larvae as tracemakers in lake margin and pond ecosystems. Ecologic requirements of soldier fly larvae make them inappropriate analogues of Helminthopsis tracemakers in deeper water, lacustrine settings. ?? 1996 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) Amsterdam B.V. Published in The Netherlands by Harwood Academic Publishers GmbH.

  14. 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.

  15. Phylogeny and rates of molecular evolution of planktonic foraminifera: SSU rDNA sequences compared to the fossil record.

    PubMed

    de Vargas, C; Zaninetti, L; Hilbrecht, H; Pawlowski, J

    1997-09-01

    Planktonic foraminifera are marine protists, whose calcareous shells form oceanic sediments and are widely used for stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental analyses. The fossil record of planktonic foraminifera is compared here to their molecular phylogeny inferred from ribosomal DNA sequences. Eighteen partial SSU rDNA sequences from species representing all modern planktonic families (Globigerinidae, Hastigerinidae, Globorotaliidae, Candeinidae) were obtained and compared to seven sequences representing the major groups of benthic foraminifera. The phylogenetic analyses indicate a polyphyletic origin for the planktonic foraminifera. The Candeinidae, the Globorotaliidae, and the clade Globigerinidae + Hastigerinidae seem to have originated independently, at different epochs in the evolution of foraminifera. Inference of their relationships, however, is limited by substitution rates of heterogeneity. Rates of SSU rDNA evolution vary from 4.0 x 10(-9) substitutions/site/year in the Globigerinidae to less than 1.0 x 10(-9) substitutions/site/year in the Globorotaliidae. These variations may be related to different levels of adaptation to the planktonic mode of life. A clock-like evolution is observed among the Globigerinidae, for which molecular and paleontological data are congruent. Phylogeny of the Globorotaliidae is clearly biased by rapid rates of substitution in two species (G. truncatulinoides and G. menardii). Our study reveals differences in absolute rates of evolution at all taxonomic levels in planktonic foraminifera and demonstrates their effect on phylogenetic reconstructions.

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. The African Surface (85-45 Ma): a Record of Mantle Deformations Since 35 Ma

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guillocheau, Francois; Simon, Brendan; Baby, Guillaume; Robin, Cécile

    2016-04-01

    Africa is characterized by a bimodal topography with long (x100 km) to very long (x1000 km) wavelength plateaus and domes. The 300-400 m topographic mode corresponds to the Sahara on which is superimposed swells (Hoggar, Tibesti..) and the Congo Interior Basin. The 900-1100 m mode corresponds to the Southern African (Kalahari) Plateau and the East African and Ethiopian Domes. The landforms responsible of the African topography are of three types (1) etchplains (mantled or stripped), (2) pediments and pediplains and (3) incised valleys. Those different landforms are stepped with mantled etchplains at higher elevation and pediments/stripped etchplains are lower elevation. Some of those landforms can be dated using either direct geochronological evidences on lateritic weathering profiles or geological evidences such as the relationship between landforms and dated magmatism or sediments. We used the stepping of successive pediments as a proxy of deformation, making sure that they record successive base level fall. We mapped at Africa-scale, a major widespread etchplain known as the African Surface (King, 1949; Burke & Gunnel, 2008). This surface was dated both by geochronology (e.g. Beauvais et al., 2008 in Burkina, Deller, 2012 in North Ethiopia) and on geological evidences (interfingering or reworking of laterites in sedimentary basins such as Iullemmeden Basin or the Tanzanian Margin). The paroxysm of weathering was during Early Eocene times (EOCM) but started earlier in Late Cretaceous with more or less younger ages according to its location in Africa. Geometrical restorations of pediments indicate that this surface was (1) at sea level in northern and central Africa with unknown upstream gradients and (2) superimposed on a Late Cretaceous plateau in southern Africa. The main period of very long wavelenghth deformation occurred around the Oligocene-Eocene boundary with the uplift of northern Africa or the beginning of the growth the East African dome. Some other

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Where's the glass? Biomarkers, molecular clocks, and microRNAs suggest a 200-Myr missing Precambrian fossil record of siliceous sponge spicules.

    PubMed

    Sperling, E A; Robinson, J M; Pisani, D; Peterson, K J

    2010-01-01

    The earliest evidence for animal life comes from the fossil record of 24-isopropylcholestane, a sterane found in Cryogenian deposits, and whose precursors are found in modern demosponges, but not choanoflagellates, calcareans, hexactinellids, or eumetazoans. However, many modern demosponges are also characterized by the presence of siliceous spicules, and there are no convincing demosponge spicules in strata older than the Cambrian. This temporal disparity highlights a problem with our understanding of the Precambrian fossil record--either these supposed demosponge-specific biomarkers were derived from the sterols of some other organism and are simply retained in modern demosponges, or spicules do not primitively characterize crown-group demosponges. Resolving this issue requires resolving the phylogenetic placement of another group of sponges, the hexactinellids, which not only make a spicule thought to be homologous to the spicules of demosponges, but also make their first appearance near the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary. Using two independent analytical approaches and data sets--traditional molecular phylogenetic analyses and the presence or absence of specific microRNA genes--we show that demosponges are monophyletic, and that hexactinellids are their sister group (together forming the Silicea). Thus, spicules must have evolved before the last common ancestor of all living siliceans, suggesting the presence of a significant gap in the silicean spicule fossil record. Molecular divergence estimates date the origin of this last common ancestor well within the Cryogenian, consistent with the biomarker record, and strongly suggests that siliceous spicules were present during the Precambrian but were not preserved.

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

    PubMed

    Popov, Yuri A; Chłond, 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

  4. †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

  5. Origin of anthropoidea: dental evidence and recognition of early anthropoids in the fossil record, with comments on the Asian anthropoid radiation.

    PubMed

    Gunnell, G F; Miller, E R

    2001-03-01

    Among the earliest fossil anthropoid primates known are Catopithecus browni, Serapia eocaena, Arsinoea kallimos, and Proteopithecus sylviae, from the late Eocene quarry L-41, Fayum Depression, Egypt. Two of these taxa, C. browni and S. eocaena, may be the oldest known members of the Propliopithecidae and Parapithecidae, respectively, while A. kallimos and P. sylviae are archaic anthropoids of less certain familial affiliation. Dental features of C. browni, S. eocaena, A. kallimos, and P. sylviae are compared with those of younger propliopithecids and parapithecids from the Fayum in order to determine the morphocline polarities of dental features among these early anthropoids. From this, a basal African anthropoid dental morphotype is constructed. Among the features of this morphotype are: dental formula of 2.1.3.3; incisors subvertically implanted and somewhat spatulate; p2 as large as p3, both lacking paraconids; p4 weakly obliquely oriented but not exodaenodont; all lower molars with small paraconids present; upper anterior premolars lacking protocone; upper molars with small, cingular hypocones, all cheek teeth nonbunodont; and canines projecting but not necessarily sexually dimorphic. Comparisons are made between this African anthropoid morphotype and two of the best-represented proposed basal anthropoids, Eosimias and Djebelemur, with the result that neither appears to be a good candidate to have been ancestral to the African anthropoids. Other possible basal simians such as Algeripithecus, Tabelia, and Biretia also are evaluated but are too poorly known for adequate analysis. The larger-bodied Asian primates Pondaungia, Amphipithecus, and Siamopithecus also are not likely ancestors for African anthropoids, but like Eosimias they may share a common ancestry. Despite many recent claims of an Asian origin for anthropoids, the evidence remains far from compelling. The true origins of Anthropoidea remain obscure.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. A Record of Early to Middle Holocene Hydroclimate Variability from the West African Sahel

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McIntosh, R.; Douglas, P. M.; Warren, C.; Meyers, S. R.; Coutros, P.; Park, D. P.

    2011-12-01

    The African Humid Period (ca. 14.8 to 5.5 ka) is an interval of wet climates across northwest Africa, with evidence for widespread lake basins and savannah vegetation in areas that are now desert. There are few high-resolution continental records of hydrologic variability during the African humid period however. In particular, it remains uncertain how periods of north Atlantic climate variability were expressed in northwest Africa. We present results from a 5.4 meter sediment core from Lake Fati in northern Mali (16.29° N, 3.71° W), which represents the first lake sediment core from the western Sahel. The Lake Fati core contains a continuous record of lake mud from 10.43 to 4.66 kyr BP. Centimeter scale XRF scanning indicates strong covariation between iron, calcium, manganese and phosphorous abundance due to enrichment of these elements during periods of enhanced deposition of authigenic siderite. Preliminary oxygen isotope measurements indicate that authigenic siderite δ18O values are positively correlated with Fe counts, suggesting that siderite deposition increased during drier periods with greater evaporation of lake waters. These drying events occurred on decadal to centennial time scales, with higher-frequency variability during the early Holocene. Peaks in zirconium and titanium abundance coincide with some of the inferred dry periods, suggesting that deposition of aeolian silt coincided with periods of increased evaporation of lake water. A roughly 30 year interval of sand deposition at ~8.33 kyr BP suggests major drying and activation of aeolian sand deposition. This abrupt climate change could be related to the 8.2 ka event in the North Atlantic; further efforts to refine the sediment core age model will constrain the relationship of this rapid drying to abrupt climate change in the North Atlantic. Aluminum and silicon counts co-vary for much of the lake Fati record, and are related to input of terrigenous sediment, primarily during seasonal flooding

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. Error in estimation of rate and time inferred from the early amniote fossil record and avian molecular clocks.

    PubMed

    van Tuinen, Marcel; Hadly, Elizabeth A

    2004-08-01

    The best reconstructions of the history of life will use both molecular time estimates and fossil data. Errors in molecular rate estimation typically are unaccounted for and no attempts have been made to quantify this uncertainty comprehensively. Here, focus is primarily on fossil calibration error because this error is least well understood and nearly universally disregarded. Our quantification of errors in the synapsid-diapsid calibration illustrates that although some error can derive from geological dating of sedimentary rocks, the absence of good stem fossils makes phylogenetic error the most critical. We therefore propose the use of calibration ages that are based on the first undisputed synapsid and diapsid. This approach yields minimum age estimates and standard errors of 306.1 +/- 8.5 MYR for the divergence leading to birds and mammals. Because this upper bound overlaps with the recent use of 310 MYR, we do not support the notion that several metazoan divergence times are significantly overestimated because of serious miscalibration (sensuLee 1999). However, the propagation of relevant errors reduces the statistical significance of the pre-K-T boundary diversification of many bird lineages despite retaining similar point time estimates. Our results demand renewed investigation into suitable loci and fossil calibrations for constructing evolutionary timescales.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. Where's the glass? Biomarkers, molecular clocks, and microRNAs suggest a 200-Myr missing Precambrian fossil record of siliceous sponge spicules.

    PubMed

    Sperling, E A; Robinson, J M; Pisani, D; Peterson, K J

    2010-01-01

    The earliest evidence for animal life comes from the fossil record of 24-isopropylcholestane, a sterane found in Cryogenian deposits, and whose precursors are found in modern demosponges, but not choanoflagellates, calcareans, hexactinellids, or eumetazoans. However, many modern demosponges are also characterized by the presence of siliceous spicules, and there are no convincing demosponge spicules in strata older than the Cambrian. This temporal disparity highlights a problem with our understanding of the Precambrian fossil record--either these supposed demosponge-specific biomarkers were derived from the sterols of some other organism and are simply retained in modern demosponges, or spicules do not primitively characterize crown-group demosponges. Resolving this issue requires resolving the phylogenetic placement of another group of sponges, the hexactinellids, which not only make a spicule thought to be homologous to the spicules of demosponges, but also make their first appearance near the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary. Using two independent analytical approaches and data sets--traditional molecular phylogenetic analyses and the presence or absence of specific microRNA genes--we show that demosponges are monophyletic, and that hexactinellids are their sister group (together forming the Silicea). Thus, spicules must have evolved before the last common ancestor of all living siliceans, suggesting the presence of a significant gap in the silicean spicule fossil record. Molecular divergence estimates date the origin of this last common ancestor well within the Cryogenian, consistent with the biomarker record, and strongly suggests that siliceous spicules were present during the Precambrian but were not preserved. PMID:19929965

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. "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)

  19. Fossil Explorers

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Moran, Sean; McLaughlin, Cheryl; MacFadden, Bruce; Jacobbe, Elizabeth; Poole, Michael

    2015-01-01

    Many young learners are fascinated with fossils, particularly charismatic forms such as dinosaurs and giant sharks. Fossils provide tangible, objective evidence of life that lived millions of years ago. They also provide a timescale of evolution not typically appreciated by young learners. Fossils and the science of paleontology can, therefore,…

  20. 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…

  1. The potential ocean acidification event at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary: Constraining carbonate chemistry using the presence of corals and coral reefs in the fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martindale, R. C.; Berelson, W.; Corsetti, F. A.; Bottjer, D. J.; West, A.

    2011-12-01

    Ocean acidification associated with emplacement of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) has been hypothesized as a kill mechanism for the Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) mass extinction (~200Ma), but few direct proxies for ancient ocean acidity are available. Here, we suggest that the presence of fossil corals and coral reefs can constrain palaeocean acidity. Modern scleractinian corals lose the ability to biomineralize a robust skeleton below aragonite saturation states (ΩArag) of 2 and modern shallow water coral reefs are only found in ΩArag > 3; we use these minima to constrain ancient ocean carbonate chemistry when corals or coral reefs are preserved in the fossil record. Atmospheric pCO2 reconstructions are combined with the coral ΩArag limitations to calculate the total dissolved inorganic carbon (TCO2) in the Late Triassic Ocean, which is a measure of the buffering capacity or ocean sensitivity to acidification. Our results suggest that Late Triassic TCO2 values were low to moderate (2000-3000 μmol/kg) such that the pCO2 increases across the T-J boundary would have depressed saturation state to the point where coral biomineralization would have been challenging (ΩArag < 2), likely resulting in the observed coral and reef gap in the fossil record. While the average pCO2 elevations recorded in stomatal and pedogenic proxies are not sufficient to cause complete carbonate undersaturation, modeled scenarios for CAMP-related T-J pCO2 increases suggest that aragonite undersaturation is plausible and in extreme cases calcite undersaturation is possible. Thus, a short but extreme acidification in an ocean with a low TCO2 concentration could occur and would satisfactorily explain the significant extinction of calcareous organisms, the coral gap, and possibly the T-J carbonate crisis.

  2. 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

  3. A Record of Moisture History in Hawaii since the Arrival of Humans Inferred from Testate Amoebae and Cladocera Fossils Preserved in Bog Sediments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barrett, K.; Kim, S. H.; Hotchkiss, S.

    2015-12-01

    Around AD 800, Polynesians arrived on the Hawaiian Islands where they expanded and intensified distinct agricultural practices in the islands' wet and dry regions. Dryland farming productivity in particular would have been sensitive to atmospheric rearrangements of the ENSO and PDO systems that affect rainfall in Hawaii. The few detailed terrestrial paleoclimate records in Hawaii are mainly derived from vegetation proxies (e.g. pollen, seeds, fruits, and plant biomarkers) which are heavily influenced by widespread landscape modification following human arrival. Here we present initial results of an independent paleomoisture proxy: fossil remains of moisture-sensitive testate amoebae (Protozoa: Rhizopoda) and cladocera (water fleas) preserved in continuous bog sediments on Kohala Volcano uplsope of the ancient Kohala agricultural field system, one of the largest dryland field systems in Hawaii. Hydrologic conditions inferred from testate amoebae and cladoceran fossil assemblages correlate with observed decadal moisture regimes in Hawaii and state changes of the PDO system during the last century. Testate ameoabe and cladoceran fossils in older sediments reveal an alternating history of very wet, lake-forming conditions on the bog surface to periods when bog soils were much drier than today's, demonstrating that this method can be paired with vegetation proxies to provide a better understanding of hydroclimate variability in prehistoric Hawaii.

  4. 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

  5. First fossil record of Alphonsea Hk. f. & T. (Annonaceae) from the Late Oligocene sediments of Assam, India and comments on its phytogeography.

    PubMed

    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.

  6. 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

  7. Cenozoic denudation rates of the West African marginal upwarp recorded by lateritic paleotopographies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beauvais, Anicet; Chardon, Dominique

    2013-04-01

    Quantifying long-term erosion of tropical shields is crucial to constraining the role of lateritic regolith covers as prominent sinks and sources of CO2 and sediments in the context of long-term Cenozoic climate change. It is also a key to understanding long-term landform evolution processes operating over most of the continental surface, particularly passive margins, and their control onto the sediment routing system. We study the surface evolution of West Africa over three erosion periods (~ 45-24, ~ 24-11 and ~ 11-0 Ma) recorded by relicts of 3 sub-continental scale lateritic paleolandsurfaces whose age is bracketed by 39Ar/40Ar dating of lateritic K-Mn oxides [1]. Denudation depths and rates compiled from 380 field stations show that despite heterogeneities confined to early-inherited reliefs, the sub-region underwent low and homogeneous denudation (~ 2-20 m Ma-1) over most of its surface whatever the considered time interval. This homogeneity is further documented by a worldwide compilation of cratonic denudation rates, over long-term, intermediate and modern Cenozoic time scales (100 - 107 yr). These results allow defining a steady-state cratonic denudation regime that is weathering-limited i.e. controlled by the thickness of the (lateritic) regolith available for stripping. Steady-state cratonic denudation regimes are enabled by maintained compartmentalization of the base levels between river knick points controlled by relief inheritance. Under such regimes, lowering of base levels and their fossilization are primarily imposed by long-term eustatic sea level fall and climate rather than by epeirogeny. The results suggest that Cenozoic post-rift vertical mobility of marginal upwarps in the tropical belt was unable to modify slow, weathering-controlled, steady state denudation regimes. The potentially complex expression of steady-state cratonic denudation regimes in clastic sedimentary fluxes remains to be investigated. [1] Beauvais et al., Journal of

  8. 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

  9. Age of the earliest african anthropoids.

    PubMed

    Fleagle, J G; Bown, T M; Obradovich, J D; Simons, E L

    1986-12-01

    The earliest fossil record of African anthropoid primates (monkeys and apes) comes from the Jebel Qatrani Formation in the Fayum depression of Egypt. Reevaluation of both geologic and faunal evidence indicates that this formation was deposited in the early part of the Oligocene Epoch, more than 31 million years ago, earlier than previous estimates. The great antiquity of the fossil higher primates from Egypt accords well with their primitive morphology compared with later Old World higher primates. Thus, the anthropoid primates and hystricomorph rodents from Fayum are also considerably older than the earliest higher primates and rodents from South America. PMID:17778006

  10. 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.

  11. The Homo habitat niche: using the avian fossil record to depict ecological characteristics of Palaeolithic Eurasian hominins

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Finlayson, Clive; Carrión, José; Brown, Kimberly; Finlayson, Geraldine; Sánchez-Marco, Antonio; Fa, Darren; Rodríguez-Vidal, Joaquín; Fernández, Santiago; Fierro, Elena; Bernal-Gómez, Marco; Giles-Pacheco, Francisco

    2011-06-01

    Although hardly applied to human palaeoecology, bird fossils offer a unique opportunity for quantitative studies of the hominin habitat. Here we reconstruct the Homo habitat niche across a large area of the Palaearctic, based on a database of avian fauna for Pleistocene sites. Our results reveal a striking association between Homo and habitat mosaics. A mix of open savannah-type woodland, wetlands and rocky habitats emerges as the predominant combination occupied by Homo across a wide geographical area, from the earliest populations of the Lower Palaeolithic to the latest hunter-gatherer communities of the Upper Palaeolithic. This observation is in keeping with the view that such landscapes have had long standing selective value for hominins.

  12. 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.

  13. 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…

  14. 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…

  15. Calcium-phosphate biomineralization induced by alkaline phosphatase activity in Escherichia coli: localization, kinetics and potential signatures in the fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cosmidis, Julie; Benzerara, Karim; Guyot, François; Skouri-Panet, Fériel; Duprat, Elodie; Férard, Céline; Guigner, Jean-Michel; Babonneau, Florence; Coelho, Cristina

    2015-12-01

    Bacteria are thought to play an important role in the formation of calcium-phosphate minerals composing marine phosphorites, as supported by the common occurrence of fossil microbes in these rocks. Phosphatase enzymes may play a key role in this process. Indeed, they may increase the supersaturation with respect to Ca-phosphates by releasing orthophosphate ions following hydrolysis of organic phosphorus. However, several questions remain unanswered about the cellular-level mechanisms involved in this model, and its potential signatures in the mineral products. We studied Ca-phosphate precipitation by different strains of Escherichia coli which were genetically modified to differ in the abundance and cellular localization of the alkaline phosphatase (PHO A) produced. The mineral precipitated by either E. coli or purified PHO A was invariably identified as a carbonate-free non-stoichiometric hydroxyapatite. However, the bacterial precipitates could be discriminated from the ones formed by purified PHO A at the nano-scale. PHO A localization was shown to influence the pattern of Ca-phosphate nucleation and growth. Finally, the rate of calcification was proved to be consistent with the PHO A enzyme kinetics. Overall, this study provides mechanistic keys to better understand phosphogenesis in the environment, and experimental references to better interpret the microbial fossil record in phosphorites.

  16. A Prejudiced Review of Ancient Parasites and Their Host Echinoderms: CSI Fossil Record or Just an Excuse for Speculation?

    PubMed

    Donovan, Stephen K

    2015-01-01

    Recognizing the presence of a parasite and identifying it is a relatively straightforward task for the twenty-first century parasitologist. Not so the pursuit of ancient parasites in fossil organisms, a much more difficult proposition. Herein, Boucot's seven-tiered scheme of reliability classes is applied as a measure of confidence of the recognition of putative parasitism in two echinoderm classes, Upper Palaeozoic crinoids and a Cretaceous echinoid (high confidence is 1, low confidence 7). Of the five examples, the parasitic(?) organism is preserved in only two of them. A zaphrentoid coral on the camerate crinoid Amphoracrinus may have robbed food from the arms (Category 1 or 2B). A pit in what appears to be a carefully selected site on the disparid crinoid Synbathocrinus is associated with a growth deformity of the cup (Category 4). Multiple pits in an Amphoracrinus theca are also associated with a deformed cup, but it is more difficult to interpret (Category 4 or 7). Some specimens of the camerate crinoid Neoplatycrinites have circular grooves or depressions posteriorly, presumably produced by coprophagic/parasitic platyceratid gastropods (Category 1). Site selectivity of pits in the echinoid Hemipneustes places them preferentially adjacent to respiratory tube feet (Category 4). From these examples it is deduced that sparse infestations of borings or epizoozoic organisms permit a more confident interpretation of organism/organism interactions; dense accumulations, possibly following multiple spatfalls, mask such patterns. PMID:26597070

  17. Microbial fossil record of rocks from the Ross Desert, Antarctica: implications in the search for past life on Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wierzchos, Jacek; Ascaso, Carmen

    2002-01-01

    Cryptoendolithic microbial communities living within Antarctic rocks are an example of survival in an extremely cold and dry environment. The extinction of these micro-organisms formerly colonizing sandstone in the Mount Fleming area (Ross Desert), was probably provoked by the hostile environment. This is considered to be a good terrestrial analogue of the first stage of the disappearance of possible life on early Mars. To date, only macroscopically observed indirect biomarkers of the past activity of cryptoendoliths in Antarctic rocks have been described. The present paper confirms, for the first time, the existence of cryptoendolith microbial fossils within these sandstone rocks. The novel in situ application of scanning electron microscopy with backscattered electron imaging and simultaneous use of X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy allowed the clear detection of microfossils left behind by Antarctic endoliths. Careful interpretation of the morphological features of cells, such as preserved cell walls in algae, fungi and bacteria, cytoplasm elements such as chloroplast membranes in algae and organic matter traces, mineral associations, and the spatial context of these structures all point to their identification as cryptoendolith microfossils. This type of investigation will prompt the development of research strategies aimed at locating and identifying the signs that Martian microbiota, probably only bacteria if they existed, may have been left for us to see.

  18. Plant and insect fossils at Norwood in south-central Minnesota: A record of late-glacial succession*1

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ashworth, Allan C.; Schwert, Donald P.; Watts, William A.; Wright, H. E.

    1981-07-01

    The Norwood site in Sibley Co., Minnesota, contains 1.6 m of silt resting on till and overlain by peat. The base of the peat has been radiocarbon dated at 12,400 ± 60 and the top at 11,200 ± 250 yr B.P. The pollen, plant macrofossils, and insect remains in the basal silt consist of boreal species inhabiting open environments, but not tundra. No modern analogue exists for the insect assemblage, which includes elements of boreal forest, tundra-forest, and western affinities. The transition from an unstable open environment to a stable coniferous forest is reflected by both plant and insect fossils and is interpreted as a successional rather than a climatic event. During this time of significant biologic change, the climate is inferred to have been relatively uniform, with temperatures similar to those presently existing in the boreal forest south of the tundra-forest transition zone. The geologic and ecologic succession at Norwood is generally similar to that presently associated with ice stagnation of the Klutlan Glacier in the Yukon Territory. Localized successional sequences similar to those at Norwood are conceived to have occurred repeatedly during the melting of the Laurentide ice, and thus the proposed model has potentially broad application to the interpretation of late-glacial sequences.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Out of Africa: The first introduced African geophilomorph centipede record from a European greenhouse (Chilopoda: Geophilidae).

    PubMed

    Dányi, László; Tuf, Ivan Hadrián

    2016-01-26

    In Europe, 184 species of Geophilomorpha are recognised (Bonato & Minelli 2014) of which eight are evaluated as alien to the region (Stoev et al. 2010, Decker et al. 2014). Four of these have been reported from greenhouses exclusively: Mecistocephalus guildingii Newport, 1843, Mecistocephalus maxillaris (Gervais, 1837), Tygarrup javanicus Attems, 1929 and Pectiniunguis pauperatus Silvestri, 1907. In this paper, we report another species, Polygonarea silvicola Lawrence, 1955, which is the first Geophilomorpha species of unambiguous African origin in Europe. Description of the specimen found in Olomouc (Czech Republic) is provided. Co-occurrence of another African species, the lithobiomorph Lamyctes africanus (Porath, 1871) (also new for Czech Republic) is also reported here.

  4. Out of Africa: The first introduced African geophilomorph centipede record from a European greenhouse (Chilopoda: Geophilidae).

    PubMed

    Dányi, László; Tuf, Ivan Hadrián

    2016-01-01

    In Europe, 184 species of Geophilomorpha are recognised (Bonato & Minelli 2014) of which eight are evaluated as alien to the region (Stoev et al. 2010, Decker et al. 2014). Four of these have been reported from greenhouses exclusively: Mecistocephalus guildingii Newport, 1843, Mecistocephalus maxillaris (Gervais, 1837), Tygarrup javanicus Attems, 1929 and Pectiniunguis pauperatus Silvestri, 1907. In this paper, we report another species, Polygonarea silvicola Lawrence, 1955, which is the first Geophilomorpha species of unambiguous African origin in Europe. Description of the specimen found in Olomouc (Czech Republic) is provided. Co-occurrence of another African species, the lithobiomorph Lamyctes africanus (Porath, 1871) (also new for Czech Republic) is also reported here. PMID:27395899

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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)

  8. 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

  9. The extinct river shark Glyphis pagoda from the Miocene of Myanmar and a review of the fossil record of the genus Glyphis (Carcharhiniformes: Carcharhinidae).

    PubMed

    Shimada, Kenshu; Egi, Naoko; Tsubamoto, Takehisa; Maung-Maung, Maung-Maung; Thaung-Htike, Thaung-Htike; Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein, Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein; Nishioka, Yuichiro; Sonoda, Teppei; Takai, Masanaru

    2016-01-01

    We redescribe an extinct river shark, Glyphis pagoda (Noetling), on the basis of 20 teeth newly collected from three different Miocene localities in Myanmar. One locality is a nearshore marine deposit (Obogon Formation) whereas the other two localities represent terrestrial freshwater deposits (Irrawaddy sediments), suggesting that G. pagoda from the Irrawaddy sediments was capable of tolerating low salinity like the extant Glyphis. Glyphis pagoda likely reached up to at least 185 cm in total body length and was probably piscivorous. The fossil species occurs in rocks of Myanmar and eastern and western India and stratigraphically ranges at least from the Lower Miocene (Aquitanian) to the lower Upper Miocene (mid-Tortonian). It has been classified under at least eight other genera to date, along with numerous taxonomic synonyms largely stemming from the lack of understanding of the heterodonty in extant Glyphis in the original description. Our literature review suggests that known Miocene shark faunas, particularly those in India, are manifested with unreliable taxonomic identifications and outdated classifications that warrant the need for a comprehensive taxonomic review in order to evaluate the evolutionary history and diversity pattern of Miocene shark faunas. The genus Glyphis has a roughly 23-million-year-long history, and its success may be related to the evolution of its low salinity tolerance. While extant Glyphis spp. are considered to be particularly vulnerable to habitat degradation and overfishing, the fossil record of G. pagoda provides renewed perspective on the natural history of the genus that can be taken into further consideration for conservation biology of the extant forms. PMID:27615926

  10. The extinct river shark Glyphis pagoda from the Miocene of Myanmar and a review of the fossil record of the genus Glyphis (Carcharhiniformes: Carcharhinidae).

    PubMed

    Shimada, Kenshu; Egi, Naoko; Tsubamoto, Takehisa; Maung-Maung, Maung-Maung; Thaung-Htike, Thaung-Htike; Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein, Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein; Nishioka, Yuichiro; Sonoda, Teppei; Takai, Masanaru

    2016-09-05

    We redescribe an extinct river shark, Glyphis pagoda (Noetling), on the basis of 20 teeth newly collected from three different Miocene localities in Myanmar. One locality is a nearshore marine deposit (Obogon Formation) whereas the other two localities represent terrestrial freshwater deposits (Irrawaddy sediments), suggesting that G. pagoda from the Irrawaddy sediments was capable of tolerating low salinity like the extant Glyphis. Glyphis pagoda likely reached up to at least 185 cm in total body length and was probably piscivorous. The fossil species occurs in rocks of Myanmar and eastern and western India and stratigraphically ranges at least from the Lower Miocene (Aquitanian) to the lower Upper Miocene (mid-Tortonian). It has been classified under at least eight other genera to date, along with numerous taxonomic synonyms largely stemming from the lack of understanding of the heterodonty in extant Glyphis in the original description. Our literature review suggests that known Miocene shark faunas, particularly those in India, are manifested with unreliable taxonomic identifications and outdated classifications that warrant the need for a comprehensive taxonomic review in order to evaluate the evolutionary history and diversity pattern of Miocene shark faunas. The genus Glyphis has a roughly 23-million-year-long history, and its success may be related to the evolution of its low salinity tolerance. While extant Glyphis spp. are considered to be particularly vulnerable to habitat degradation and overfishing, the fossil record of G. pagoda provides renewed perspective on the natural history of the genus that can be taken into further consideration for conservation biology of the extant forms.

  11. Fossilization of feathers

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Davis, Paul G.; Briggs, Derek E. G.

    1995-09-01

    Scanning electron microscopy of feathers has revealed evidence that a bacterial glycocalyx (a network of exocellular polysaccharide fibers) played a role in promoting their fossilization in some cases. This mode of preservation has not been reported in other soft tissues. The majority of fossil feathers are preserved as carbonized traces. More rarely, bacteria on the surface are replicated by authigenic minerals (bacterial autolithification). The feathers of Archaeopteryx are preserved mainly by imprintation following early lithification of the substrate and decay of the feather. Lacustrine settings provide the most important taphonomic window for feather preservation. Preservation in terrestrial and normal-marine settings involves very different processes (in amber and in authigenically mineralized coprolites, respectively). Therefore, there may be a significant bias in the avian fossil record in favor of inland water habitats.

  12. 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

    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.

  13. Correlation of Plio Pleistocene Tephra in Ethiopian and Kenyan rift basins: Temporal calibration of geological features and hominid fossil records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    WoldeGabriel, Giday; Hart, William K.; Katoh, Shigehiro; Beyene, Yonas; Suwa, Gen

    2005-10-01

    The 200-m-thick fossiliferous Konso Formation and overlying terrace deposits, which crop out at the end of the southern sector of the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER), contain more than 30 distal tephra layers. Local and regional tephra correlations of more than 20 tephra units were established using major and trace element data of discrete and purified bulk glass samples within the Konso study area. Eleven correlative marker tuffs were recognized in stratigraphic sections of both the Konso Formation and the Omo-Turkana Basin sediments in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. The Turoha, Hope, Ivory, Bright White, and Boleshe Tuffs in the Konso Formation, and the Upper White Tuff in the overlying terrace deposits are securely correlated with the KBS, Akait, Lokapetamoi, Chari, Lower Nariokotome, and Silbo Tuffs of the Omo-Turkana Basin, using least mobile major elements (CaO, Fe 2O 3*, and TiO 2) and geochronology. Preliminary correlations are also suggested between the Konso Formation distal tephra and proximal units of the Quaternary caldera-forming silicic centers in the central sector of the MER. The strongly peralkaline tuffs of the Konso Formation are compositionally similar to proximal eruptions mostly located along the Quaternary axial rift zone of the southern, central, and northern sectors of the MER. The tephra correlation provides information about the temporal and spatial features of the volcanic and tectonic processes recorded in the evolving basins. Thickness and sedimentation rate were determined for both the Konso Formation and the Omo-Turkana Basin sections, measured between the Turoha (=KBS; 1.91 ± 0.03 Ma) and the Bright White (=Chari; 1.40 ± 0.02 Ma) Tuffs. Although the lithostratigraphic sequence at the Konso study area is younger, sedimentation rate within the Konso Formation was comparable to that of the Koobi Fora Formation, higher in the Nachukui Formation, and lower in the Shungura Formation. Local and regional differences in thickness and

  14. 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.

  15. Molecular phylogeny of acantharian and polycystine radiolarians based on ribosomal DNA sequences, and some comparisons with data from the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Kunitomo, Yoshiki; Sarashina, Isao; Iijima, Minoru; Endo, Kazuyoshi; Sashida, Katsuo

    2006-07-01

    Polycystines (spumellarians, nassellarians, and collodarians), phaeodarians, and acantharians are marine planktonic protists that have been conventionally and collectively called "radiolaria". Recent molecular phylogenetic studies revealed radiolarian polyphyly with phaeodarians being a separate offshoot. Collodarians and nassellarians are also shown to form a monophyletic group, but other aspects of radiolarian phylogeny, such as interrelations among polycystines and acantharians, remained uncertain. Here, we present molecular phylogenetic analyses including new ribosomal RNA sequences from ten spumellarians and nine nassellarians, based on Bayesian and maximum-likelihood methods. Results indicate that the Polycystinea is a paraphyletic group, with Bayesian analysis suggesting that spumellarians form a clade with acantharians. The heliozoan-like protist Sticholonche appears as a sister to the spumellarian clade. The nassellarian Eucyrtidium is located outside the clade including the other nassellarians and collodarians. The mineralogy of the test of extant radiolarians and the tree topology obtained in this work suggest that acantharians and spumellarians evolved from an ancestor with a siliceous skeleton. Collodarians and nassellarians form a well-supported clade and one might infer from the fossil record that they may have diverged between the Jurassic and the Eocene.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Continental environment variations (climate, erosion) recorded by Marine quaternary sediments of the northwestern and eastern African margins

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Faugères, J. C.; Pujol, Cl.

    Samples collected from 4 sites on the northwestern and eastern African margins were used to test the reliability of marine sedimentary record of continental environmental variations, during the last Glacial and Interglacial climatic cycle. On the northwestern margin which is passive and stable (between Cape Verde and Cape Blanc), climatic variations are marked by parameters such as sedimentary facies, sedimentary dynamics, sedimentation rates or faunal assemblages. These parameters are controlled by climatic changes that modify continental environments (erosion conditions, rate of terrigenous supplies) and marine environments as well (sea-level, currents and biogenic sediment productivity). On the opposite, in the Gulf of Aden, 3 sites show the extent to which tectonics may affect the record of environment modifications due to climatic changes. In the East of the Gulf, on the Sukra margin that is passive but with young and still active structures, the continental slope is uneven with tectonic basins acting as sediment traps. Here, several parameters like sedimentation rates become unreliable for they no longer reflect the importance of terrigenous inputs nor that of primary productivity. Further to the West, the deep narrow trough of Alula Fartak and the epicontinental domain belonging to the Assal rift (Ghubbet el Kharab), are part of highly active tectonic and volcanic margins. Continental environment variations cease to be recorded through sedimentological parameters which are closely related to morpho-structural and volcanic factors.

  19. A High-Resolution Late Holocene Record of Rainfall From Lake Edward, Equatorial Africa: Linkages Between the African and Indian Monsoons

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Russell, J. M.; Johnson, T. C.

    2005-12-01

    High-resolution analyses of the chemical composition of calcite and the biogenic silica content of sediments from piston cores spanning the past 3,500 years from Lake Edward, Uganda-Congo, document multidecadal to millennial-scale climate variability in the heart of equatorial Africa. Major drought events in the Lake Edward record occur at about 500, 850, 1500, ~2000, and 2700 cal yr BP, in addition to numerous other events of lesser magnitude/duration. Comparison of our record to other Holocene records of African lake levels suggests that most of these intervals of drought affected most of equatorial East Africa. However, wet conditions at about 500 cal yrs BP at sites to the east of Lake Edward could indicate spatial heterogeneity within the African continent during the "Little Ice Age", which could have resulted from complex interactions between the African (Atlantic) and Indian Ocean monsoons. Spectral analysis of our drought record, sampled at a 3-year step, shows evidence for numerous multidecadal to century-scale drought periods in the region. The periodicities observed do not appear linked to solar forcing; rather, periods of ~125, ~70, ~28, and ~18 years apparent in our record as well as other records from the Indian Ocean basin may arise from climate variability internal to the tropical oceans, in particular the Indo-Pacific. Lastly, the Lake Edward record suggests that the climate of equatorial Africa has been unusually stable and generally wet for the past ca. 100 years. This stability appears unusual in light of the considerable climate variability suggested by our record for the past several millennia, a finding with clear implications for East African societies.

  20. 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…

  1. A rich fossil record yields calibrated phylogeny for Acanthaceae (Lamiales) and evidence for marked biases in timing and directionality of intercontinental disjunctions.

    PubMed

    Tripp, Erin A; McDade, Lucinda A

    2014-09-01

    More than a decade of phylogenetic research has yielded a well-sampled, strongly supported hypothesis of relationships within the large ( > 4000 species) plant family Acanthaceae. This hypothesis points to intriguing biogeographic patterns and asymmetries in sister clade diversity but, absent a time-calibrated estimate for this evolutionary history, these patterns have remained unexplored. Here, we reconstruct divergence times within Acanthaceae using fossils as calibration points and experimenting with both fossil selection and effects of invoking a maximum age prior related to the origin of Eudicots. Contrary to earlier reports of a paucity of fossils of Lamiales (an order of ∼ 23,000 species that includes Acanthaceae) and to the expectation that a largely herbaceous to soft-wooded and tropical lineage would have few fossils, we recovered 51 reports of fossil Acanthaceae. Rigorous evaluation of these for accurate identification, quality of age assessment and utility in dating yielded eight fossils judged to merit inclusion in analyses. With nearly 10 kb of DNA sequence data, we used two sets of fossils as constraints to reconstruct divergence times. We demonstrate differences in age estimates depending on fossil selection and that enforcement of maximum age priors substantially alters estimated clade ages, especially in analyses that utilize a smaller rather than larger set of fossils. Our results suggest that long-distance dispersal events explain present-day distributions better than do Gondwanan or northern land bridge hypotheses. This biogeographical conclusion is for the most part robust to alternative calibration schemes. Our data support a minimum of 13 Old World (OW) to New World (NW) dispersal events but, intriguingly, only one in the reverse direction. Eleven of these 13 were among Acanthaceae s.s., which comprises > 90% of species diversity in the family. Remarkably, if minimum age estimates approximate true history, these 11 events occurred within

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. Mud fossils

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    ,

    1997-01-01

    At the close of the 18th century, the haze of fantasy and mysticism that tended to obscure the true nature of the Earth was being swept away. Careful studies by scientists showed that rocks had diverse origins. Some rock layers, containing clearly identifiable fossil remains of fish and other forms of aquatic animal and plant life, originally formed in the ocean. Other layers, consisting of sand grains winnowed clean by the pounding surf, obviously formed as beach deposits that marked the shorelines of ancient seas.

  7. Fossil land snails of East Africa and their palaeoecological significance

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pickford, Martin

    1995-04-01

    This study deals with the Neogene and extant land snails of tropical East Africa and their implications for interpreting the paleoenvironments of the numerous localities at which they have been found. Of major significance to the study is the intimate association between the terrestrial molluscs and the rich mammalian faunas, hominoids included, of East Africa. Thus, palaeoecological reconstructions based on land snails are directly applicable to the mammalian faunas. Palaeoecological reconstructions are proposed for most of the Lower and Middle Miocene hominoids, including Proconsul, Rangwapithecus, Limnopithecus, Micropithecus, Nyanzapithecus, Kenyapithecus and others, and for the mid-Pliocene Australopithecus from Laetoli, Tanzania. The departure point for the palaeoecological reconstructions is a comprehensive study of extant terrestrial molluscs of East Africa, the habitat preferences of which are well documented. All the fossil gastropods studied comprise extant genera and even species, so the usual problems regarding the application of actualism to fossil assemblages is avoided. Furthermore, the fossil gastropod assemblages resemble extant ones, confirming their utility for such reconstructions. Among the parameters examined are rainfall, altitude, vegetation cover and type and zoogeography. A further point of interest is that the samples are more than adequate for the purposes of the study, many of the fossil localities having yielded several thousand specimens. Finally, more than 40% of the extant genera of East Africa have now been recognized in the fossil state. The molluscs are thus, by far, the best represented biological group known in the fossil record of Africa and as such hold great potential for understanding the past. This study ends with reconstructions of the palaeoecology of numerous fossiliferous localities in East Africa which have yielded molluscs and mammals. Changes through the geological column are documented and the habitat preferences

  8. 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

  9. 4He in Modern Cape Verde Corals: A High-Resolution Proxy Record of N. African Climate

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mukhopadhyay, S.; Kreycik, P.; Schrag, D. P.

    2005-12-01

    Mineral dust from arid and semi arid regions is an important component of climatic processes. The amount of dust emitted off continents is intimately linked with precipitation, which may itself be linked to atmospheric circulation driven by oceanic sea surface temperatures. Hence, reconstructing dust fluxes off continents with sub-decadal resolution can provide us with fundamental insights into feedbacks in the climate system. Unfortunately, such high-resolution dust flux records prior to the establishment of the Barbados dust sampling station are largely lacking. Here we show that 4He concentrations in annual bands in corals provides a high-resolution, reliable, and robust proxy record of dust flux from continents. Some traces phases in dust, such as zircons, are rich in U and Th and thus have extremely high concentrations of 4He. As some fraction of the dust settles out of the atmosphere and through the water column, corals incorporate the dust in their skeletons through filter feeding. Since the alpha stopping distance is greater than the particle size of wind blown dust, the mineral grains will not accumulate radiogenic helium after the dust is incorporated into the corals. We have measured the 4He concentration in annual bands dating back to 1960's in a modern coral that was collected in 1996 off the island of Sal, part of the Cape Verde archipelago. The coral is therefore, situated close to, and directly west of the dust source in the Sudano-Sahel region of the African continent. The 4He record from the coral shows remarkable similarity with the record from the Barbados dust sampling station. There is a continuous increase in 4He baseline values by a factor of two from the mid 1960's to the early 1990's as well as two pronounced peaks in the early 1970's and mid 1980's associated with severe drought in the Sudano-Sahel region. Our proxy record from the Cape Verde Island demonstrates that 4He concentrations in corals can be used reliably to reconstruct dust

  10. 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.

  11. East African soil erosion recorded in a 300 year old coral colony from Kenya

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fleitmann, Dominik; Dunbar, Robert B.; McCulloch, Malcolm; Mudelsee, Manfred; Vuille, Mathias; McClanahan, Tim R.; Cole, Julia E.; Eggins, Stephen

    2007-02-01

    Soil erosion is a key socio-economic and environmental problem in Kenya, which has been poorly documented due to the lack of long, continuous records. Here we present Ba/Ca records from Porites corals from the Malindi coral reef documenting the flux of suspended sediment from the Sabaki River with a sub-weekly resolution for the last 300 years. While sediment flux from the Sabaki River is almost constant between 1700 and 1900, a continuous rise in sediment flux is observed since 1900, first due to British settlements and afterwards due to steadily increasing demographic pressure on land use. The peak in suspended sediment load and hence soil erosion occurred between 1974 and 1980 when there is a five to tenfold increase relative to natural levels. This is attributed to the combined effects of dramatically increasing population, unregulated land use, deforestation and severe droughts in the early 1970's. We conclude that despite laudable attempts to instigate soil conservation measures, it is unlikely that there will be a sustainable reduction in soil erosion without a significant improvement in socio-economic conditions.

  12. The largest fossil rodent

    PubMed Central

    Rinderknecht, Andrés; Blanco, R. Ernesto

    2008-01-01

    The discovery of an exceptionally well-preserved skull permits the description of the new South American fossil species of the rodent, Josephoartigasia monesi sp. nov. (family: Dinomyidae; Rodentia: Hystricognathi: Caviomorpha). This species with estimated body mass of nearly 1000 kg is the largest yet recorded. The skull sheds new light on the anatomy of the extinct giant rodents of the Dinomyidae, which are known mostly from isolated teeth and incomplete mandible remains. The fossil derives from San José Formation, Uruguay, usually assigned to the Pliocene–Pleistocene (4–2 Myr ago), and the proposed palaeoenvironment where this rodent lived was characterized as an estuarine or deltaic system with forest communities. PMID:18198140

  13. East African Soil Erosion Recorded in a 300 Year old Coral Colony From Kenya

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dunbar, R. B.; Fleitmann, D.; McCulloch, M.; Mudelsee, M.; Vuille, M.; McClanahan, T.; Cole, J.; Eggins, S.

    2006-12-01

    Soil erosion threatens the food security of 2.6 billion people worldwide. The situation is particularly dire in East and Sub-Saharan Africa where per capita food production has declined over the past 45 years. Erosion and the resultant loss of fertile soil is a key socio-economic and ecological problem in Kenya, affecting all sectors of its economy and damaging marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The temporal pattern of soil erosion is almost unknown and currently only sparse and rather anecdotal information exists. To aid in filling this gap of knowledge, we present a 300-year long Barium record from two Kenyan coral colonies (Porites sp., 3°15'S, 40°9' E; Malindi Marine National Park) that documents a dynamic history of soil erosion in the Sabaki river drainage basin. To reconstruct Sabaki River sediment flux to the Malindi coral reef Ba/Ca ratios were measured in the skeleton of two Porites colonies (Mal 96-1 and Mal 95-3). Well-developed annual bands allow us to develop annually precise chronologies. Ba/Ca ratios were measured in core Mal 96-1 at continuous 40 μm intervals (~400 to 500 samples yr-1) using laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA- ICP-MS). To test for reproducibility and accuracy of the Mal 96-1 Ba/Ca profile, coral core Mal 95-3 was analyzed at lower resolution (1 to 12 samples yr-1) using discrete micro-drill sampling and isotope dilution ICP-MS. The close similarity between both coral Ba/Ca profiles, in absolute values as well as general pattern, underscores the accuracy of the LA-ICP-MS technique and adds confidence to our interpretation of the 300 year long Mal 96-1 Ba/Ca profile. The Ba/Ca coral proxy record shows that while the sediment flux from the Sabaki River is nearly constant between 1700 and 1900, a continuous rise in sediment flux is observed since 1900, reflecting steadily increasing demographic pressure on land use. The peak in suspended sediment load and hence soil erosion recorded at the Malindi reef

  14. Biomineralization and biosignatures of coralloid-type speleothems from lava tubes of Galapagos Islands: evidences on the fossil record of prokaryotes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miller, Ana Z.; Garcia-Sanchez, Angela M.; Pereira, Manuel F. C.; Gazquez, Fernando; Calaforra, José M.; Forti, Paolo; Toulkeridis, Theofilos; Martínez-Frías, Jesús; Saiz-Jimenez, Cesareo

    2016-04-01

    , whereas the final stage mainly consists of low crystalline calcite. FESEM-EDS analysis revealed mineralized bacterial filaments rich in Si on the coralloid samples, as well as minerals precipitation associated with extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which serve as nuclei for preferential precipitation on the extracellular sheaths. This suggests that biological activity played a major role in the development of these speleothems. In addition, imprints of filamentous cells and microboring readily preserved on siliceous minerals were observed on the coralloid speleothems. These features are recognized as biosignatures valuable for astrobiology and may represent modern analogs of the fossil record of prokaryotes. DNA-based analyses showed that bacteria belonging to Actinobacteria (31%) Gemmatimonadetes (25%) and Proteobacteria (24%) phyla dominated in this cave ecosystem, followed by Acidobacteria, Firmicutes and Nitrospirae. Most of the identified phylotypes were affiliated to chemoautotrophs, including thermophilic bacteria such as Ferrithrix thermotolerans, and other mineral utilizing microorganisms like Aciditerrimonas ferrireducens, Desulfuromonas sp. and Desulfovibrio sp., indicating that Galapagos lava tubes host highly specialized subsurface biosphere dominated by microorganisms able to interact with minerals and promote biomineralization. Acknowledgments: This work has been supported by the project PC-65-14 from the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador. AZM acknowledges the support from the Marie Curie Fellowship of the 7th EC Framework Programme (PIEF-GA-2012-328689-DECAVE). The authors acknowledge the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (project CGL2013-41674-P) and FEDER funds for financial support.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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)

  19. Oligocene Termite Nests with In Situ Fungus Gardens from the Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania, Support a Paleogene African Origin for Insect Agriculture.

    PubMed

    Roberts, Eric M; Todd, Christopher N; Aanen, Duur K; Nobre, Tânia; Hilbert-Wolf, Hannah L; O'Connor, Patrick M; Tapanila, Leif; Mtelela, Cassy; Stevens, Nancy J

    2016-01-01

    Based on molecular dating, the origin of insect agriculture is hypothesized to have taken place independently in three clades of fungus-farming insects: the termites, ants or ambrosia beetles during the Paleogene (66-24 Ma). Yet, definitive fossil evidence of fungus-growing behavior has been elusive, with no unequivocal records prior to the late Miocene (7-10 Ma). Here we report fossil evidence of insect agriculture in the form of fossil fungus gardens, preserved within 25 Ma termite nests from southwestern Tanzania. Using these well-dated fossil fungus gardens, we have recalibrated molecular divergence estimates for the origins of termite agriculture to around 31 Ma, lending support to hypotheses suggesting an African Paleogene origin for termite-fungus symbiosis; perhaps coinciding with rift initiation and changes in the African landscape. PMID:27333288

  20. Oligocene Termite Nests with In Situ Fungus Gardens from the Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania, Support a Paleogene African Origin for Insect Agriculture

    PubMed Central

    Roberts, Eric M.; Todd, Christopher N.; Aanen, Duur K.; Nobre, Tânia; Hilbert-Wolf, Hannah L.; O’Connor, Patrick M.; Tapanila, Leif; Mtelela, Cassy; Stevens, Nancy J.

    2016-01-01

    Based on molecular dating, the origin of insect agriculture is hypothesized to have taken place independently in three clades of fungus-farming insects: the termites, ants or ambrosia beetles during the Paleogene (66–24 Ma). Yet, definitive fossil evidence of fungus-growing behavior has been elusive, with no unequivocal records prior to the late Miocene (7–10 Ma). Here we report fossil evidence of insect agriculture in the form of fossil fungus gardens, preserved within 25 Ma termite nests from southwestern Tanzania. Using these well-dated fossil fungus gardens, we have recalibrated molecular divergence estimates for the origins of termite agriculture to around 31 Ma, lending support to hypotheses suggesting an African Paleogene origin for termite-fungus symbiosis; perhaps coinciding with rift initiation and changes in the African landscape. PMID:27333288

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Novel application of confocal laser scanning microscopy and 3D volume rendering toward improving the resolution of the fossil record of charcoal.

    PubMed

    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.

  4. Using extant patterns of dental variation to identify species in the primate fossil record: a case study of middle Eocene Omomys from the Bridger Basin, southwestern Wyoming.

    PubMed

    Cuozzo, Frank P

    2008-04-01

    Patterns of extant primate dental variation provide important data for interpreting taxonomic boundaries in fossil forms. Here I use dental data from several well-known living primates (as well as data from selected Eocene forms) to evaluate dental variation in Middle Eocene Omomys, the first North American fossil primate identified by paleontologists. Measurements were collected from a sample of 148 omomyid dental specimens recovered from Bridger B localities in the Bridger Basin, Wyoming. Most of these specimens have not previously been described. Nonmetric traits were also scored for this sample. Lower molar coefficients of variation range from 4.01 for M2 length (n = 80) to 6.73 for M3 talonid width (n = 57). All of the nonmetric traits scored exhibit less than 100% presence in the overall sample, including traits previously described as representative of Omomys (e.g., P4 metaconids present in 91%, n = 55; M2 pericones present in 80%, n = 15). Dental traits also vary in a set of spatially restricted localities from the same fossil horizon and in a separate, single fossil locality (DMNH 868, P4 metaconids present in 67%, n = 6). An increasing frequency in several premolar traits across time in these more restricted samples suggests an anagenetic change in Bridger B Omomys. However, this degree of morphological variability is consistent with that seen in extant primate species from single locations. Metric variation in this sample is comparable to that seen in other Eocene primates, such as new data presented here for the omomyid Arapahovius gazini from the Washakie Basin, southern Wyoming. Omomys metric variation is also comparable to that found in several samples of well-known extant primates from single localities (e.g., ring-tailed lemurs and gray-brown mouse lemurs). These metric data also correspond to the patterns of variability described in previously published studies of Omomyscarteri. In sum, a single species interpretation (O. carteri) for this new

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

    PubMed

    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. PMID:21442243

  7. Planation surfaces as a record of medium to large wavelength deformation: the example of the Lake Albert Rift (Uganda) on the East African Dome

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brendan, Simon; François, Guillocheau; Cécile, Robin; Jean, Braun; Olivier, Dauteuil; Massimo, Dall'Asta

    2016-04-01

    African relief is characterized by planation surfaces, some of them of continental scale. These surfaces are slightly deformed according to different wavelengths (x10 km; x100 km, x1000 km) which record both mantle dynamics (very long wavelength, x 1000 km) and lithosphere deformation (long wavelength deformation, x 100 km). Different types of these planation surfaces are recognized: - Etchplains capped by iron-duricrust which correspond to erosional nearly flat weathered surfaces resulting from the growth of laterites under warm and humid conditions. - Pediments which define mechanical erosional surfaces with concave or rectilinear profiles delimited by upslope scarps connected upstream with the upper landforms. We here focused on the Lake Albert Rift at the northern termination of the western branch of the East African Rift System of which the two branches are surimposed on the East-African Dome. Different wavelengths of deformation were characterized based on the 3D mapping of stepped planation surfaces: (1) very long wavelength deformations resulting from the uplift of the East African Dome; (2) long wavelength deformations resulting from the opening of the eastern branch and (3) medium wavelength deformations represented by the uplift of rift shoulders like the Rwenzori Mountains. The paleo-landscape reconstruction of Uganda shows the existence of four generations of landforms dated according to their geometrical relationships with volcanic rocks. A four stepped evolution of the Ugandan landforms is proposed: • 70 - 22 Ma: generation of two weathered planation surfaces (etchplain Uw and Iw). The upper one (Uw) records a very humid period culminating at time of the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (70-45 Ma). It corresponds to the African Surface. A first uplift of the East African Dome generates a second lower planation surface (Iw) connected to the Atlantic Ocean base level; • 17-2.7 Ma: planation of large pediplains connected to the local base level induced

  8. 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

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

    PubMed

    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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-09-29

    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 (approximately 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 approximately 39 Ma, and that phiomorphs and caviomorphs diverged approximately 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

  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

  12. 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

    2015-08-07

    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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Consequences of elevated temperature and pCO2 on insect folivory at the ecosystem level: perspectives from the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Currano, Ellen D; Laker, Rachel; Flynn, Andrew G; Fogt, Kari K; Stradtman, Hillary; Wing, Scott L

    2016-07-01

    Paleoecological studies document the net effects of atmospheric and climate change in a natural laboratory over timescales not accessible to laboratory or ecological studies. Insect feeding damage is visible on well-preserved fossil leaves, and changes in leaf damage through time can be compared to environmental changes. We measured percent leaf area damaged on four fossil leaf assemblages from the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, that range in age from 56.1 to 52.65 million years (Ma). We also include similar published data from three US sites 49.4 to ~45 Ma in our analyses. Regional climate was subtropical or warmer throughout this period, and the second oldest assemblage (56 Ma) was deposited during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a geologically abrupt global warming event caused by massive release of carbon into the atmosphere. Total and leaf-chewing damage are highest during the PETM, whether considering percent area damaged on the bulk flora, the average of individual host plants, or a single plant host that occurs at multiple sites. Another fossil assemblage in our study, the 52.65 Ma Fifteenmile Creek paleoflora, also lived during a period of globally high temperature and pCO 2, but does not have elevated herbivory. Comparison of these two sites, as well as regression analyses conducted on the entire dataset, demonstrates that, over long timescales, temperature and pCO 2 are uncorrelated with total insect consumption at the ecosystem level. Rather, the most important factor affecting herbivory is the relative abundance of plants with nitrogen-fixing symbionts. Legumes dominate the PETM site; their prevalence would have decreased nitrogen limitation across the ecosystem, buffering generalist herbivore populations against decreased leaf nutritional quality that commonly occurs at high pCO 2. We hypothesize that nitrogen concentration regulates the opposing effects of elevated temperature and CO 2 on insect abundance and thereby total insect consumption

  18. Consequences of elevated temperature and pCO2 on insect folivory at the ecosystem level: perspectives from the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Currano, Ellen D; Laker, Rachel; Flynn, Andrew G; Fogt, Kari K; Stradtman, Hillary; Wing, Scott L

    2016-07-01

    Paleoecological studies document the net effects of atmospheric and climate change in a natural laboratory over timescales not accessible to laboratory or ecological studies. Insect feeding damage is visible on well-preserved fossil leaves, and changes in leaf damage through time can be compared to environmental changes. We measured percent leaf area damaged on four fossil leaf assemblages from the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, that range in age from 56.1 to 52.65 million years (Ma). We also include similar published data from three US sites 49.4 to ~45 Ma in our analyses. Regional climate was subtropical or warmer throughout this period, and the second oldest assemblage (56 Ma) was deposited during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a geologically abrupt global warming event caused by massive release of carbon into the atmosphere. Total and leaf-chewing damage are highest during the PETM, whether considering percent area damaged on the bulk flora, the average of individual host plants, or a single plant host that occurs at multiple sites. Another fossil assemblage in our study, the 52.65 Ma Fifteenmile Creek paleoflora, also lived during a period of globally high temperature and pCO 2, but does not have elevated herbivory. Comparison of these two sites, as well as regression analyses conducted on the entire dataset, demonstrates that, over long timescales, temperature and pCO 2 are uncorrelated with total insect consumption at the ecosystem level. Rather, the most important factor affecting herbivory is the relative abundance of plants with nitrogen-fixing symbionts. Legumes dominate the PETM site; their prevalence would have decreased nitrogen limitation across the ecosystem, buffering generalist herbivore populations against decreased leaf nutritional quality that commonly occurs at high pCO 2. We hypothesize that nitrogen concentration regulates the opposing effects of elevated temperature and CO 2 on insect abundance and thereby total insect consumption

  19. 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

  20. Fossil Shorelines Record Multiple Sea Level Highstands and Surface Deformation on Million Year Timescales at Cape Range National Park, Northwestern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sandstrom, R. M.; O'Leary, M.; Barham, M.; Cai, Y.; Jacome, A. P.; Raymo, M. E.

    2015-12-01

    Correcting fossil shorelines for vertical displacement subsequent to deposition is a vital consideration in estimating sea level and ice volume during past warm periods. Field observations of paleo-sea level indicators must be adjusted for local tectonic deformation, subsequent sediment loading, dynamic topography (DT), and glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA). Dynamic topography is often the most difficult of these corrections to determine, especially on million year timescales, but is essential when providing constraints on sea level and ice volume changes. GIA effects from high latitude ice sheets minimally impact northwestern Australia, making this region well suited for observing surface displacement due to mantle and tectonic processes. This study presents centimeter accuracy paleo-shoreline data from four distinct marine terraces in the Cape Range National Park, Australia, which document vertical displacement history along 100 kilometers of coastline. The mapped region has an anticlinal structure in the center that has been slowly uplifting the three older reef complexes over the Neogene, constraining the timing of deformation. These neotectonics are probably caused by reactivation of ancient fault zones normal to the principal horizontal compressive stress, resulting in the warping of overlaying units. The elevation data also suggests minimal vertical displacement since the last interglacial highstand. Well-preserved fossil coral were collected from each terrace and will be geochemically dated using Sr isotope and U-series dating methods. This dataset provides a better understanding of DT and neotectonic deformation in this region (useful for improving mantle viscosity models), and offers a means for improving past sea level reconstructions in northwestern Australia.

  1. A birth records analysis of the Maternal Infant Health Advocate Service program: a paraprofessional intervention aimed at addressing infant mortality in African Americans.

    PubMed

    Hunte, Haslyn E R; Turner, Tonya M; Pollack, Harold A; Lewis, E Yvonne

    2004-01-01

    Recognizing that no single intervention was likely to eliminate racial disparities, the Genesee County REACH 2010 partnership, utilizing both "bench" science and "trench" knowledge, developed 13 broad-based, multi-faceted interventions to eliminate infant mortality. This article provides highlights from a recent birth records comparison analysis of the Maternal Infant Health Advocate Service (MIHAS) intervention, and is solely based on the records of 111 MIHAS clients, and a random sample of 350 African-American women residing in Flint, Michigan. The MIHAS clients were more likely than the comparison sample not to have graduated from high school (56% vs 35%, respectively, P<.0001). The MIHAS clients were more likely to report at least some smoking during pregnancy (20% vs 15%, respectively, P<.05). However, after controlling for age and education, these results were no longer statistically significant. In terms of birth outcomes, the comparative odds of MIHAS clients delivering a low birth-weight infant are 1.124 (95% CI: 0.620-2.038); the odds of their delivering an infant at 37 weeks or earlier are 1.032 (0.609-1.749). Although the MIHAS clients did not have statistically better birth outcomes than those of the general African-American population in Flint, the MIHAS clients did not demonstrate the outcomes one would expect, given their higher level of risk. Based on this analysis, the MIHAS intervention may have brought its clients "up to par" with the general community on several birth outcomes.

  2. The non-uniformity of fossil preservation.

    PubMed

    Holland, Steven M

    2016-07-19

    The fossil record provides the primary source of data for calibrating the origin of clades. Although minimum ages of clades are given by the oldest preserved fossil, these underestimate the true age, which must be bracketed by probabilistic methods based on multiple fossil occurrences. Although most of these methods assume uniform preservation rates, this assumption is unsupported over geological timescales. On geologically long timescales (more than 10 Myr), the origin and cessation of sedimentary basins, and long-term variations in tectonic subsidence, eustatic sea level and sedimentation rate control the availability of depositional facies that preserve the environments in which species lived. The loss of doomed sediments, those with a low probability of preservation, imparts a secular trend to fossil preservation. As a result, the fossil record is spatially and temporally non-uniform. Models of fossil preservation should reflect this non-uniformity by using empirical estimates of fossil preservation that are spatially and temporally partitioned, or by using indirect proxies of fossil preservation. Geologically, realistic models of preservation will provide substantially more reliable estimates of the origination of clades.This article is part of the themed issue 'Dating species divergences using rocks and clocks'. PMID:27325828

  3. The non-uniformity of fossil preservation.

    PubMed

    Holland, Steven M

    2016-07-19

    The fossil record provides the primary source of data for calibrating the origin of clades. Although minimum ages of clades are given by the oldest preserved fossil, these underestimate the true age, which must be bracketed by probabilistic methods based on multiple fossil occurrences. Although most of these methods assume uniform preservation rates, this assumption is unsupported over geological timescales. On geologically long timescales (more than 10 Myr), the origin and cessation of sedimentary basins, and long-term variations in tectonic subsidence, eustatic sea level and sedimentation rate control the availability of depositional facies that preserve the environments in which species lived. The loss of doomed sediments, those with a low probability of preservation, imparts a secular trend to fossil preservation. As a result, the fossil record is spatially and temporally non-uniform. Models of fossil preservation should reflect this non-uniformity by using empirical estimates of fossil preservation that are spatially and temporally partitioned, or by using indirect proxies of fossil preservation. Geologically, realistic models of preservation will provide substantially more reliable estimates of the origination of clades.This article is part of the themed issue 'Dating species divergences using rocks and clocks'.

  4. A 25 m.y. isotopic record of paleodiet and environmental change from fossil mammals and paleosols from the NE margin of the Tibetan Plateau

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, Yang; Deng, Tao

    2005-07-01

    We use the carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions of fossil tooth enamel and paleosols to reconstruct the late Cenozoic history of vegetation and environmental change in the Linxia Basin at the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. The δ13C values of fossil enamel from a diverse group of herbivores and of paleosol carbonate and organic matter indicate that C4 grasses were either absent or insignificant in the Linxia Basin prior to ˜2-3 Ma and only became a significant component of local ecosystems in the Quaternary. This is in striking contrast to what was observed in Pakistan, Nepal, Africa and the Americas where C4 plants expanded rapidly in the late Miocene as indicated by a positive δ13C shift in mammalian tooth enamel and paleosols. The δ18O results from the same herbivore species show several significant shifts in climate in the late Cenozoic. Most notably, a positive δ18O shift after ˜7 Ma indicates a shift to warmer and/or drier conditions and is comparable in timing and direction to the δ18O shift observed in paleosol carbonates in Pakistan and Nepal. This late Miocene climate change observed in the Indian sub-continent and in the Linxia Basin, however, seems to be a regional manifestation of a global climate change. The lack of evidence for C4 plants in the Linxia Basin prior to ˜2-3 Ma suggests that the East Asian summer monsoon, which brings precipitation into northern China during the summer and creates optimal conditions for the growth of C4 grasses, was probably not strong enough to affect this part of China throughout much of the Neogene. This implies that the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau may not have reached the present-day elevation across its vast extent to support a strong East Asian monsoon system before ˜2-3 Ma. Our data also suggest that regional climatic conditions played an important role in controlling the expansion of C4 plants.

  5. Searching in the Dark: Phenotyping Diabetic Retinopathy in a De-Identified Electronic Medical Record Sample of African Americans.

    PubMed

    Restrepo, Nicole A; Farber-Eger, Eric; Crawford, Dana C

    2016-01-01

    A hurdle to EMR-based studies is the characterization and extraction of complex phenotypes not readily defined by single diagnostic/procedural codes. Here we developed an algorithm utilizing data mining techniques to identify a diabetic retinopathy (DR) cohort of type-2 diabetic African Americans from the Vanderbilt University de-identified EMR system. The algorithm incorporates a combination of diagnostic codes, current procedural terminology billing codes, medications, and text matching to identify DR when gold-standard digital photography results were unavailable. DR cases were identified with a positive predictive value of 75.3% and an accuracy of 84.8%. Controls were classified with a negative predictive value of 1.0% as could be assessed. Limited studies of DR have been performed in African Americans who are at an elevated risk of DR. Identification of EMR-based African American cohorts may help stimulate new biomedical studies that could elucidate differences in risk for the development of DR and other complex diseases.

  6. Searching in the Dark: Phenotyping Diabetic Retinopathy in a De-Identified Electronic Medical Record Sample of African Americans.

    PubMed

    Restrepo, Nicole A; Farber-Eger, Eric; Crawford, Dana C

    2016-01-01

    A hurdle to EMR-based studies is the characterization and extraction of complex phenotypes not readily defined by single diagnostic/procedural codes. Here we developed an algorithm utilizing data mining techniques to identify a diabetic retinopathy (DR) cohort of type-2 diabetic African Americans from the Vanderbilt University de-identified EMR system. The algorithm incorporates a combination of diagnostic codes, current procedural terminology billing codes, medications, and text matching to identify DR when gold-standard digital photography results were unavailable. DR cases were identified with a positive predictive value of 75.3% and an accuracy of 84.8%. Controls were classified with a negative predictive value of 1.0% as could be assessed. Limited studies of DR have been performed in African Americans who are at an elevated risk of DR. Identification of EMR-based African American cohorts may help stimulate new biomedical studies that could elucidate differences in risk for the development of DR and other complex diseases. PMID:27570675

  7. Searching in the Dark: Phenotyping Diabetic Retinopathy in a De-Identified Electronic Medical Record Sample of African Americans

    PubMed Central

    Restrepo, Nicole A.; Farber-Eger, Eric; Crawford, Dana C.

    2016-01-01

    A hurdle to EMR-based studies is the characterization and extraction of complex phenotypes not readily defined by single diagnostic/procedural codes. Here we developed an algorithm utilizing data mining techniques to identify a diabetic retinopathy (DR) cohort of type-2 diabetic African Americans from the Vanderbilt University de-identified EMR system. The algorithm incorporates a combination of diagnostic codes, current procedural terminology billing codes, medications, and text matching to identify DR when gold-standard digital photography results were unavailable. DR cases were identified with a positive predictive value of 75.3% and an accuracy of 84.8%. Controls were classified with a negative predictive value of 1.0% as could be assessed. Limited studies of DR have been performed in African Americans who are at an elevated risk of DR. Identification of EMR-based African American cohorts may help stimulate new biomedical studies that could elucidate differences in risk for the development of DR and other complex diseases. PMID:27570675

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. First record of the fossil snakefly genus Mesoraphidia (Insecta: Raphidioptera: Mesoraphidiidae) from the Middle Jurassic of China, with description of a new species.

    PubMed

    Lü, Ya-Nan; Liu, Xingyue; Dong, Ren

    2015-01-01

    Mesoraphidia daohugouensis sp. nov. is described from the Middle Jurassic Jiulongshan Formation of Inner Mongolia, China. It is diagnosed by the following character states: subquadrate pronotum, narrowly elliptical forewing, distally darkened pterostigma closed respectively by a proximal costal crossvein and a distal radial veinlet, absence of pterostigmal crossvein. The new species represents the first record of Mesoraphidiinae from the Middle Jurassic of China. PMID:26623595

  13. 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

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

    2016-01-01

    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

  14. 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

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

    2016-01-01

    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

  15. 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.

  16. Modes of fossil preservation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Schopf, J.M.

    1975-01-01

    The processes of geologic preservation are important for understanding the organisms represented by fossils. Some fossil differences are due to basic differences in organization of animals and plants, but the interpretation of fossils has also tended to be influenced by modes of preservation. Four modes of preservation generally can be distinguished: (1) Cellular permineralization ("petrifaction") preserves anatomical detail, and, occasionally, even cytologic structures. (2) Coalified compression, best illustrated by structures from coal but characteristic of many plant fossils in shale, preserves anatomical details in distorted form and produces surface replicas (impressions) on enclosing matrix. (3) Authigenic preservation replicates surface form or outline (molds and casts) prior to distortion by compression and, depending on cementation and timing, may intergrade with fossils that have been subject to compression. (4) Duripartic (hard part) preservation is characteristic of fossil skeletal remains, predominantly animal. Molds, pseudomorphs, or casts may form as bulk replacements following dissolution of the original fossil material, usually by leaching. Classification of the kinds of preservation in fossils will aid in identifying the processes responsible for modifying the fossil remains of both animals and plants. ?? 1975.

  17. Rock magnetic characterization and potential use as a high-resolution paleomagnetic recorder of fossil Porites corals in Ishigaki Island, Japan

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kumagai, Y.; Nakamura, N.; Sato, T.

    2015-12-01

    Radiocarbon (14C) is produced by the cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere and is utilized for reconstructing the past solar activity using tree rings. This 14C production is also controlled by the geomagnetic field, and the short-term (at the ~ 10-100 yr duration) movement of the geomagnetic pole to the low latitude, like geomagnetic jerks, might leads to a higher 14C production rate. In order to reconstruct the past solar activity from the 14C concentration, we should know the movement of geomagnetic pole position and the field intensity in a decadal to centennial time series. Previous reconstructions of geomagnetic paleosecular variation lack to reconstruct the short-term variation of geomagnetic field in a decadal or centennial scale. Annual banded skeletons of hermatipic corals (e.g., Porites) might possess an enormous potential as a high-resolution paleomagnetic recorder due to their continuous growths through hundreds of years at a rapid rate (up to 2 cm/yr), although usual corals show an extremely weak intensity of remanence and its low stability. Here we found that recently-ceased Porites coral skeletons thrown up on beach of the Ishigaki Island (SW Japan) possess measurable natural remanence intensities and conducted thermal and AF demagnetization of coral skeletons. The characteristic remanence directions of almost all samples are relatively stable with some fluctuations. However, some samples exhibit obviously different remanence directions from its average with calcite peaks of X-ray diffraction analysis. It is indicated that the magnetic mineral assemblage consists of a dominant biogenic-origin single-domain magnetite and a minor detrital component from FORC measurement, FMR measurement and petrological observations by FE-SEM of acid-treated residuals of our corals. Our findings suggest that Porites coral framework samples have a potential use as a high-resolution paleomagnetic recorder with careful examination of calcite content.

  18. Stratified tephra records from lake sediment archives: Holocene eruptions of the Virunga Volcanic Province, East African Rift

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lane, Christine; Scholz, Christopher; Poppe, Sam; Schmid, Martin; Ross, Kelly Ann

    2016-04-01

    Lake sediments preserve rare stratified records of explosive volcanism, often with accompanying chronological controls or climatostratigraphic detail. In proximal areas where outcrop stratigraphies are complex, exposures isolated and sediments frequently eroded, the lacustrine archive provides a means to check the order of events and identify additional eruptions not preserved on land. The visible volcanic ash (tephra) record within lake sediments may be limited by eruption volume, distance from source and high sedimentation rates. A more complete eruption history can be detected through the study of non-visible tephra layers. Such "cryptotephra" records may be revealed through non-destructive core-scanning methods, such as XRF-scanning or magnetic susceptibility measurements, or by more thorough laboratory processes and microscopic analysis. Compositional analysis of tephra glass shards using WDS-EPMA and LA-ICP-MS provide a means to provenance eruptions, to cross-correlate between multiple sediment cores, and to establish connections between the lacustrine record and proximal outcrops. Here we present the results of such a "tephrostratigraphic" approach applied to the Holocene volcanic record of the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP). More than 10 explosive volcanic eruptions, attributed to multiple volcanic centres, are evidenced over the last 12,000 years. This unique insight into the frequency of explosive eruptions from the VVP, demonstrates the potential of visible and cryptotephra investigations in lacustrine sediment archives as a means of studying past, present and future volcanic hazards.

  19. 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…

  20. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-05-19

    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 C(4) 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 approximately 2 weeks. The peak probability of conception in the population occurred approximately 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-05-19

    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 C(4) 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 approximately 2 weeks. The peak probability of conception in the population occurred approximately 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Eumetazoan fossils in terminal proterozoic phosphorites?

    PubMed

    Xiao, S; Yuan, X; Knoll, A H

    2000-12-01

    Phosphatic sedimentary rocks preserve a record of early animal life different from and complementary to that provided by Ediacaran fossils in terminal Proterozoic sandstones and shales. Phosphorites of the Doushantuo Formation, South China, contain eggs, egg cases, and stereoblastulae that document animals of unspecified phylogenetic position; small fossils containing putative spicules may specifically record the presence of sponges. Microfossils recently interpreted as the preserved gastrulae of cnidarian and bilaterian metazoans can alternatively be interpreted as conventional algal cysts and/or egg cases modified by diagenetic processes known to have had a pervasive influence on Doushantuo phosphorites. Regardless of this interpretation, evidence for Doushantuo eumetazoans is provided by millimeter-scale tubes that display tabulation and apical budding characteristic of some Cnidaria, especially the extinct tabulates. Like some Ediacaran remains, these small, benthic, colonial fossils may represent stem-group eumetazoans or stem-group cnidarians that lived in the late Proterozoic ocean. PMID:11095754

  5. Eumetazoan fossils in terminal proterozoic phosphorites?

    PubMed

    Xiao, S; Yuan, X; Knoll, A H

    2000-12-01

    Phosphatic sedimentary rocks preserve a record of early animal life different from and complementary to that provided by Ediacaran fossils in terminal Proterozoic sandstones and shales. Phosphorites of the Doushantuo Formation, South China, contain eggs, egg cases, and stereoblastulae that document animals of unspecified phylogenetic position; small fossils containing putative spicules may specifically record the presence of sponges. Microfossils recently interpreted as the preserved gastrulae of cnidarian and bilaterian metazoans can alternatively be interpreted as conventional algal cysts and/or egg cases modified by diagenetic processes known to have had a pervasive influence on Doushantuo phosphorites. Regardless of this interpretation, evidence for Doushantuo eumetazoans is provided by millimeter-scale tubes that display tabulation and apical budding characteristic of some Cnidaria, especially the extinct tabulates. Like some Ediacaran remains, these small, benthic, colonial fossils may represent stem-group eumetazoans or stem-group cnidarians that lived in the late Proterozoic ocean.

  6. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Bilton, David T

    2014-06-05

    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.

  8. Phylogeny and biogeography of African Murinae based on mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences, with a new tribal classification of the subfamily

    PubMed Central

    2008-01-01

    Background Within the subfamily Murinae, African murines represent 25% of species biodiversity, making this group ideal for detailed studies of the patterns and timing of diversification of the African endemic fauna and its relationships with Asia. Here we report the results of phylogenetic analyses of the endemic African murines through a broad sampling of murine diversity from all their distribution area, based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and the two nuclear gene fragments (IRBP exon 1 and GHR). Results A combined analysis of one mitochondrial and two nuclear gene sequences consistently identified and robustly supported ten primary lineages within Murinae. We propose to formalize a new tribal arrangement within the Murinae that reflects this phylogeny. The diverse African murine assemblage includes members of five of the ten tribes and clearly derives from multiple faunal exchanges between Africa and Eurasia. Molecular dating analyses using a relaxed Bayesian molecular clock put the first colonization of Africa around 11 Mya, which is consistent with the fossil record. The main period of African murine diversification occurred later following disruption of the migration route between Africa and Asia about 7–9 Mya. A second period of interchange, dating to around 5–6.5 Mya, saw the arrival in Africa of Mus (leading to the speciose endemic Nannomys), and explains the appearance of several distinctive African lineages in the late Miocene and Pliocene fossil record of Eurasia. Conclusion Our molecular survey of Murinae, which includes the most complete sampling so far of African taxa, indicates that there were at least four separate radiations within the African region, as well as several phases of dispersal between Asia and Africa during the last 12 My. We also reconstruct the phylogenetic structure of the Murinae, and propose a new classification at tribal level for this traditionally problematic group. PMID:18616808

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    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.

    2015-12-01

    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.

  15. 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

  16. The great divides: Ardipithecus ramidus reveals the postcrania of our last common ancestors with African apes.

    PubMed

    Lovejoy, C Owen; Suwa, Gen; Simpson, Scott W; Matternes, Jay H; White, Tim D

    2009-10-01

    Genomic comparisons have established the chimpanzee and bonobo as our closest living relatives. However, the intricacies of gene regulation and expression caution against the use of these extant apes in deducing the anatomical structure of the last common ancestor that we shared with them. Evidence for this structure must therefore be sought from the fossil record. Until now, that record has provided few relevant data because available fossils were too recent or too incomplete. Evidence from Ardipithecus ramidus now suggests that the last common ancestor lacked the hand, foot, pelvic, vertebral, and limb structures and proportions specialized for suspension, vertical climbing, and knuckle-walking among extant African apes. If this hypothesis is correct, each extant African ape genus must have independently acquired these specializations from more generalized ancestors who still practiced careful arboreal climbing and bridging. African apes and hominids acquired advanced orthogrady in parallel. Hominoid spinal invagination is an embryogenetic mechanism that reoriented the shoulder girdle more laterally. It was unaccompanied by substantial lumbar spine abbreviation, an adaptation restricted to vertical climbing and/or suspension. The specialized locomotor anatomies and behaviors of chimpanzees and gorillas therefore constitute poor models for the origin and evolution of human bipedality.

  17. Phénomènes karstiques fossiles et actuels au sein des formations métamorphiques silico-alumineuses de la nappe pan-africaine de Yaoundé (Sud-Cameroun)Fossil and present-time karstic phenomena in silico-aluminous metamorphic formations of the Pan-African nappe of Yaoundé (South-Cameroon)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vicat, Jean-Paul; Mvondo, Hubert; Willems, Luc; Pouclet, André

    Numerous karstic features have been recognised in the non-carbonaceous micaschists and gneisses of the Yaoundé Pan-African nappe, south of Cameroon. It is shown that their formation was controlled by the structural features of the rocks. The wells and the pipes in the bedrock outcrops point out a current karstification process, resulting from the plagioclase dissolution by the acid rain waters. Hill wall alveoli and caves, of pre-Miocene age, are exhumed features that were done by dissolution in the aquiferous underground. To cite this article: J.-P. Vicat et al., C. R. Geoscience 334 (2002) 545-550.

  18. 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)

  19. A reappraisal of the evolution of Asian snakehead fishes (Pisces, Channidae) using molecular data from multiple genes and fossil calibration.

    PubMed

    Adamson, Eleanor A S; Hurwood, David A; Mather, Peter B

    2010-08-01

    Freshwater snakehead fishes (Channidae) provide an interesting target for phylogenetic analysis for the following reasons, their unusual biology, potential for cryptic diversity and availability of a good fossil record. Here, a multi-locus molecular phylogeny was constructed and calibrated using two fossil dates to estimate divergence times within the family. Sampling aimed to explore interspecific divergence of Channa species across Southeast Asia and intra-specific variation where species possessed natural geographical ranges that were extensive. Results contradict divergence times estimated previously independently from single locus mitochondrial data or the fossil record and suggest that after divergence from African taxa 40-50 Ma, evolution of Asian snakeheads has been heavily influenced by multiple broad scale dispersal events across India and Southeast Asia. A similar pattern of divergence within multiple clades suggests that west-east dispersal was limited for many taxa during the Miocene. Deep intra-specific divergence was inferred for C. striata, indicating that long historical periods of isolation ( approximately 8Ma) have not resulted in the evolution of reproductive isolation within this species. Results support suggestions that C. marulia like fishes in northern Cambodia may constitute an undescribed species, and that Indian C. diplogramma warrants taxonomic recognition as being distinct from Southeast Asian C. micropeltes, with the two taxa last sharing a common ancestor in the mid- to late-Miocene. PMID:20359539

  20. A reappraisal of the evolution of Asian snakehead fishes (Pisces, Channidae) using molecular data from multiple genes and fossil calibration.

    PubMed

    Adamson, Eleanor A S; Hurwood, David A; Mather, Peter B

    2010-08-01

    Freshwater snakehead fishes (Channidae) provide an interesting target for phylogenetic analysis for the following reasons, their unusual biology, potential for cryptic diversity and availability of a good fossil record. Here, a multi-locus molecular phylogeny was constructed and calibrated using two fossil dates to estimate divergence times within the family. Sampling aimed to explore interspecific divergence of Channa species across Southeast Asia and intra-specific variation where species possessed natural geographical ranges that were extensive. Results contradict divergence times estimated previously independently from single locus mitochondrial data or the fossil record and suggest that after divergence from African taxa 40-50 Ma, evolution of Asian snakeheads has been heavily influenced by multiple broad scale dispersal events across India and Southeast Asia. A similar pattern of divergence within multiple clades suggests that west-east dispersal was limited for many taxa during the Miocene. Deep intra-specific divergence was inferred for C. striata, indicating that long historical periods of isolation ( approximately 8Ma) have not resulted in the evolution of reproductive isolation within this species. Results support suggestions that C. marulia like fishes in northern Cambodia may constitute an undescribed species, and that Indian C. diplogramma warrants taxonomic recognition as being distinct from Southeast Asian C. micropeltes, with the two taxa last sharing a common ancestor in the mid- to late-Miocene.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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

    PubMed

    Li, Qiang; Ni, Xijun

    2016-01-14

    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.

  10. 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

  11. Genetic and Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Modern Humans.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Stringer, C. B.; Andrews, P.

    1988-01-01

    Discusses how genetic data on present human population relationships and data from the Pleistocene fossil hominid record are being used to compare two contrasting models for the origin of modern humans. (TW)

  12. The oldest Asian record of Anthropoidea

    PubMed Central

    Bajpai, Sunil; Kay, Richard F.; Williams, Blythe A.; Das, Debasis P.; Kapur, Vivesh V.; Tiwari, B. N.

    2008-01-01

    Undisputed anthropoids appear in the fossil record of Africa and Asia by the middle Eocene, about 45 Ma. Here, we report the discovery of an early Eocene eosimiid anthropoid primate from India, named Anthrasimias, that extends the Asian fossil record of anthropoids by 9–10 million years. A phylogenetic analysis of 75 taxa and 343 characters of the skull, postcranium, and dentition of Anthrasimias and living and fossil primates indicates the basal placement of Anthrasimias among eosimiids, confirms the anthropoid status of Eosimiidae, and suggests that crown haplorhines (tarsiers and monkeys) are the sister clade of Omomyoidea of the Eocene, not nested within an omomyoid clade. Co-occurence of Anthropoidea, Omomyoidea, and Adapoidea makes it evident that peninsular India was an important center for the diversification of primates of modern aspect (euprimates) in the early Eocene. Adaptive reconstructions indicate that early anthropoids were mouse–lemur-sized (≈75 grams) and consumed a mixed diet of fruit and insects. Eosimiids bear little adaptive resemblance to later Eocene-early Oligocene African Anthropoidea. PMID:18685095

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

    PubMed Central

    Hulva, Pavel; Horáček, 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

  14. Fossil evidence of the zygomycetous fungi.

    PubMed

    Krings, M; Taylor, T N; Dotzler, N

    2013-06-01

    Molecular clock data indicate that the first zygomycetous fungi occurred on Earth during the Precambrian, however, fossil evidence of these organisms has been slow to accumulate. In this paper, the fossil record of the zygomycetous fungi is compiled, with a focus on structurally preserved Carboniferous and Triassic fossils interpreted as zygosporangium-gametangia complexes and resembling those of modern Endogonales. Enigmatic microfossils from the Precambrian to Cenozoic that have variously been interpreted as, or compared to, zygomycetous fungi are also discussed. Among these, the spherical structures collectively termed 'sporocarps' are especially interesting because of their complex investments and abundance in certain Carboniferous and Triassic rocks. Circumstantial evidence suggests that at least some 'sporocarp' types represent mantled zygosporangia. Zygomycetous fungi probably were an important element in terrestrial paleoecosystems at least by the Carboniferous. PMID:24027344

  15. Austrian phase on the northern African margin inferred from sequence stratigraphy and sedimentary records in southern Tunisia (Chotts and Djeffara areas)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lazzez, Marzouk; Zouaghi, Taher; Ben Youssef, Mohamed

    2008-08-01

    A multidisciplinary study concerning Aptian and Albian deposits is reported from petroleum wells and the exposed section. The biostratigraphic and sedimentological analysis defined four sedimentary units. Well-logging signals' analysis allows us to refine the record resolution on Aptian series and reveals, in the Djeffara field, a transgressive system tract (TST) and a highstand system tract (HST). Exceptionally, the first sequence (S1) in the Mareth 1 well and the fifth sequence in the two wells Mareth 1 and Gourine 1 reveal the lower-stand system tract (LST). The unconformities characterized by the absence of Upper Aptian (Clansayesian) and Lower to Middle Albian deposits signed by a significant gamma-ray reduction. The Middle and Upper Albian is represented by only one deposit sequence (S6) in Mareth 1. Towards the south, in the Gourine well, two deposit sequences were identified (S6 and S7); to specify the Aptian and Albian evolution of the deposit sequences, a tentative correlation has been established between the Chotts and Djeffara areas. This correlation allows us to characterize the sedimentary unconformities related to the tectonics and eustatic events. The Chotts and the Djeffara deposition areas were developed, characterized by an irregular subsidence and separated by the Tebaga Medenine high area. The Aptian-Albian subsidence platform of southern Tunisia may be considered as a block diagram of environmental deposit with regressive and transgressive trends, showing the impact of tectonic deformations on the palaeogeographic evolution of southeastern Tunisia during the Austrian phase. This study also must be replaced within regional structural patterns that may explain both the sequential and sedimentological evolution of the area. Deformations regionally identified are integrated in the more general context of both Tethyan and Atlantic areas related to the drift of the African platform.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. Fossil-Fired Boilers

    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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. African Oral Tradition Literacy.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Green, Doris

    1985-01-01

    Presents the basic principles of two systems for notating African music and dance: Labanotation (created to record and analyze movements) and Greenotation (created to notate musical instruments of Africa and to parallel Labanotation whereby both music and dance are incorporated into one integrated score). (KH)

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Synthesizing and databasing fossil calibrations: divergence dating and beyond.

    PubMed

    Ksepka, Daniel T; Benton, Michael J; Carrano, Matthew T; Gandolfo, Maria A; Head, Jason J; Hermsen, Elizabeth J; Joyce, Walter G; Lamm, Kristin S; Patané, José S L; Phillips, Matthew J; Polly, P David; Van Tuinen, Marcel; Ware, Jessica L; Warnock, Rachel C M; Parham, James F

    2011-12-23

    Divergence dating studies, which combine temporal data from the fossil record with branch length data from molecular phylogenetic trees, represent a rapidly expanding approach to understanding the history of life. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center hosted the first Fossil Calibrations Working Group (3-6 March, 2011, Durham, NC, USA), bringing together palaeontologists, molecular evolutionists and bioinformatics experts to present perspectives from disciplines that generate, model and use fossil calibration data. Presentations and discussions focused on channels for interdisciplinary collaboration, best practices for justifying, reporting and using fossil calibrations and roadblocks to synthesis of palaeontological and molecular data. Bioinformatics solutions were proposed, with the primary objective being a new database for vetted fossil calibrations with linkages to existing resources, targeted for a 2012 launch.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. Atmospheric CO2 from fossil plant cuticles.

    PubMed

    Kerp, Hans

    2002-01-01

    Plants respond to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by regulating the number of stomata in their leaves. In his reconstruction of a continuous, 300-million-year record of atmospheric CO2, Retallack bases his curve on stomatal counts of fossil plant cuticles taken from published micrographs. However, the preservation of cuticles from Permian times is generally too fragmentary for the stomatal index to be reliably determined, the micrographs used could have biased the results, and there are important errors in the supplementary data - all of which cast doubt on the Permian part of Retallack's record.

  13. From Fossil Parasitoids to Vectors: Insects as Parasites and Hosts.

    PubMed

    Nagler, Christina; Haug, Joachim T

    2015-01-01

    Within Metazoa, it has been proposed that as many as two-thirds of all species are parasitic. This propensity towards parasitism is also reflected within insects, where several lineages independently evolved a parasitic lifestyle. Parasitic behaviour ranges from parasitic habits in the strict sense, but also includes parasitoid, phoretic or kleptoparasitic behaviour. Numerous insects are also the host for other parasitic insects or metazoans. Insects can also serve as vectors for numerous metazoan, protistan, bacterial and viral diseases. The fossil record can report this behaviour with direct (parasite associated with its host) or indirect evidence (insect with parasitic larva, isolated parasitic insect, pathological changes of host). The high abundance of parasitism in the fossil record of insects can reveal important aspects of parasitic lifestyles in various evolutionary lineages. For a comprehensive view on fossil parasitic insects, we discuss here different aspects, including phylogenetic systematics, functional morphology and a direct comparison of fossil and extant species.

  14. 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

  15. Biodesulfurization of fossil fuels.

    PubMed

    Gray, Kevin A; Mrachko, Gregory T; Squires, Charles H

    2003-06-01

    Biotechnological techniques enabling the specific removal of sulfur from fossil fuels have been developed. In the past three years there have been important advances in the elucidation of the mechanisms of biodesulfurization; some of the most significant relate to the role of a flavin reductase, DszD, in the enzymology of desulfurization, and to the use of new tools that enable enzyme enhancement via DNA manipulation to influence both the rate and the substrate range of Dsz. Also, a clearer understanding of the unique desulfinase step in the pathway has begun to emerge.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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).

  5. Triassic leech cocoon from Antarctica contains fossil bell animal

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bomfleur, Benjamin; Kerp, Hans; Taylor, Thomas N.; Moestrup, Øjvind; Taylor, Edith L.

    2012-12-01

    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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. Evolution in fossil lineages: paleontology and The Origin of Species.

    PubMed

    Hunt, Gene

    2010-12-01

    Of all of the sources of evidence for evolution by natural selection, perhaps the most problematic for Darwin was the geological record of organic change. In response to the absence of species-level transformations in the fossil record, Darwin argued that the fossil record was too incomplete, too biased, and too poorly known to provide strong evidence against his theory. Here, this view of the fossil record is evaluated in light of 150 years of subsequent paleontological research. Although Darwin's assessment of the completeness and resolution of fossiliferous rocks was in several ways astute, today the fossil record is much better explored, documented, and understood than it was in 1859. In particular, a reasonably large set of studies tracing evolutionary trajectories within species can now be brought to bear on Darwin's expectation of gradual change driven by natural selection. An unusually high-resolution sequence of stickleback-bearing strata records the transformation of this lineage via natural selection. This adaptive trajectory is qualitatively consistent with Darwin's prediction, but it occurred much more rapidly than he would have guessed: almost all of the directional change was completed within 1,000 generations. In most geological sequences, this change would be too rapid to resolve. The accumulated fossil record at more typical paleontological scales (10(4)-10(6) years) reveals evolutionary changes that are rarely directional and net rates of change that are perhaps surprisingly slow, two findings that are in agreement with the punctuated-equilibrium model. Finally, Darwin's view of the broader history of life is reviewed briefly, with a focus on competition-mediated extinction and recent paleontological and phylogenetic attempts to assess diversity dependence in evolutionary dynamics.

  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 III lists the model equations and a one line definition for equations, in a short, readable format.

  12. 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

  13. Kunta Kinte's Struggle to be African

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Courlander, Harold

    1986-01-01

    This article reveals the differences between the character Kunta Kinte and the historical record concerning African males in the preslavery period. Kunta's non-African behaviors include displays of blind anger and rage, prudishness, and actions unknown in his Mandinka culture. These represent the many misrepresentations and ambiguities in Alex…

  14. Replication in plastic of three-dimensional fossils preserved in indurated clastic sedimentary rocks.

    PubMed

    Zapasnik, H T; Johnston, P A

    1984-06-29

    A new technique for replicating in plastic the fossils preserved in clastic rocks should now make available reliable morphologic and frequency data, comparable in quality to those derived from acid-prepared silicified faunas, for a major segment of the fossil record. The technique involves three steps: the dissolution of carbonate in fossiliferous rocks with hydrochloric acid, impregnation of resulting voids with liquid plastic, and dissolution of the rock matrix with hydrofluoric acid, leaving a concentrate of plastic-replaced fossils.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. Corrected placement of Mus-Rattus fossil calibration forces precision in the molecular tree of rodents.

    PubMed

    Kimura, Yuri; Hawkins, Melissa T R; McDonough, Molly M; Jacobs, Louis L; Flynn, Lawrence J

    2015-09-28

    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.

  20. 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)

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. Integrating fossils with molecular phylogenies improves inference of trait evolution.

    PubMed

    Slater, Graham J; Harmon, Luke J; Alfaro, Michael E

    2012-12-01

    Comparative biologists often attempt to draw inferences about tempo and mode in evolution by comparing the fit of evolutionary models to phylogenetic comparative data consisting of a molecular phylogeny with branch lengths and trait measurements from extant taxa. These kinds of approaches ignore historical evidence for evolutionary pattern and process contained in the fossil record. In this article, we show through simulation that incorporation of fossil information dramatically improves our ability to distinguish among models of quantitative trait evolution using comparative data. We further suggest a novel Bayesian approach that allows fossil information to be integrated even when explicit phylogenetic hypotheses are lacking for extinct representatives of extant clades. By applying this approach to a comparative dataset comprising body sizes for caniform carnivorans, we show that incorporation of fossil information not only improves ancestral state estimates relative to those derived from extant taxa alone, but also results in preference of a model of evolution with trend toward large body size over alternative models such as Brownian motion or Ornstein-Uhlenbeck processes. Our approach highlights the importance of considering fossil information when making macroevolutionary inference, and provides a way to integrate the kind of sparse fossil information that is available to most evolutionary biologists.

  6. Taxonomy and fossils: a critical appraisal.

    PubMed

    Forey, Peter L; Fortey, Richard A; Kenrick, Paul; Smith, Andrew B

    2004-04-29

    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

  7. 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

  8. Taxonomy and fossils: a critical appraisal.

    PubMed

    Forey, Peter L; Fortey, Richard A; Kenrick, Paul; Smith, Andrew B

    2004-04-29

    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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

    2015-05-27

    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.

  11. 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)

  12. Early Pliocene sediments and fossils from the northern Kenya Rift Valley.

    PubMed

    Bishop, W W; Chapman, G R

    1970-06-01

    Mammalian fossils, which include the tooth of an early hominid, have been recovered from the newly mapped Ngorora Formation in the Baringo District. Preliminary dating suggests that this formation is aged between 9 and 12 million years, and the new finds thus help to span a ten million year gap in the fossil mammal record in Africa south of the Sahara. PMID:16057593

  13. Determining the response of African biota to climate change: using the past to model the future.

    PubMed

    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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. New material of Anancus kenyensis (proboscidea, mammalia) from Toros-Menalla (Late Miocene, Chad): Contribution to the systematics of African anancines

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hautier, Lionel; Mackaye, Hassane Taisso; Lihoreau, Fabrice; Tassy, Pascal; Vignaud, Patrick; Brunet, Michel

    2009-03-01

    New fossil remains of the proboscidean genus Anancus are described. Among them, a complete skull allows us to revisit for the first time the entire Chadian Anancus fossil record. This genus occurred in the Old World from the late Miocene up to the early Pleistocene. The analysis of dental and cranial characters was allowed individual variations from specific characters to be distinguished. In this study we show that Anancus kenyensis and Anancus osiris are very likely synonym taxa which leads us to emend the diagnosis of A. kenyensis. In addition, this study shows that dental characters in anancines lineage are of little significance for biostratigraphical inference, by contrast to previous works. This study brings new data about the phylogenetical and palaeobiogeographical history of the African anancines.

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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…

  2. "African Connection."

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Adelman, Cathy; And Others

    This interdisciplinary unit provides students in grades kindergarten through seventh grade an opportunity to understand diversity through a study of Africa as a diverse continent. The project is designed to provide all elementary students with cultural enrichment by exposing them to African music, art, storytelling, and movement. This project can…

  3. 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)

  4. Genetics, Mo