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Sample records for proterozoic fossil record

  1. 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.

  2. The proterozoic and earliest cambrian trace fossil record; patterns, problems and perspectives.

    PubMed

    Jensen, Sören

    2003-02-01

    The increase in trace fossil diversity across the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian boundary often is presented in terms of tabulations of ichnogenera. However, a clearer picture of the increase in diversity and complexity can be reached by combining trace fossils into broad groups defined both on morphology and interpretation. This also focuses attention on looking for similarites between Neoproterozoic and Cambrian trace fossils. Siliciclastic sediments of the Neoproterozoic preserve elongate tubular organisms and structures of probable algal origin, many of which are very similar to trace fossils. Such enigmatic structures include Palaeopascichnus and Yelovichnus, previously thought to be trace fossils in the form of tight meanders.A preliminary two or tripartite terminal Neoproterozoic trace fossil zonation can be be recognized. Possibly the earliest trace fossils are short unbranched forms, probably younger than about 560 Ma. Typical Neoproterozoic trace fossils are unbranched and essentially horizontal forms found associated with diverse assemblages of Ediacaran organisms. In sections younger than about 550 Ma a modest increase in trace fossil diversity occurs, including the appearance of rare three-dimensional burrow systems (treptichnids), and traces with a three-lobed lower surfaces.

  3. Exceptional preservation of fossils in an Upper Proterozoic shale

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Butterfield, N. J.; Knoll, A. H.; Swett, K.

    1988-01-01

    An exceptionally well-preserved and distinctive assemblage of Late Proterozoic fossils from subtidal marine shales is reported. In addition to the spheromorphic acritarchs and cyanobacteria sheaths routinely preserved in Proterozoic rocks, this assemblage includes multicellular algae, a diverse assortment of morphologically complex protistan vesicles, and probable heterotrophic bacteria. Thus, it provides one of the clearest and most taxonomically varied views of Proterozoic life yet reported.

  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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2002-10-01

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

  6. Earliest Phanerozoic or latest Proterozoic fossils from the Arabian Shield

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Cloud, P.; Awramik, S.M.; Morrison, K.; Hadley, D.G.

    1979-01-01

    We report here the first biologically definable fossils from pre-Saq (pre-Middle Cambrian) rocks of the Arabian Shield. They include the distinctive helically coiled tubular filaments of the oscillatorialean blue-green alga Obruchevella parva as well as two size classes of spheroidal unicells of uncertain affinity. Also present is the conical stromatolite Conophyton and unidentified stromatolites. All occur in cherty limestones of the Jubaylah Group, northern Saudi Arabia, a nonmarine to locally marine taphrogeosynclinal sequence that fills depressions along the northwest-trending Najd faults. Conophyton has heretofore been found only in strata older than about 680 Ma (except for puzzling records in modern hot springs) while Obruchevella is so far known only from rocks between about 680 and 470 Ma old. Thus it appears that the Jubaylah Group is close to the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transition. The simple spheroidal nanno-fossils are not diagnostic as to age. Their relationships within what appears to be early diagenetic chert suggest a classical algal-mat association. The brecciated and microchanneled appearance of much of the fossiliferous rock, its locally dolomitic nature, and the prevalence of cryptalgalaminate favors a very shallow, locally turbulent, and perhaps episodically exposed marine or marginal marine setting. The Jubaylah Group lies unconformably beneath the Siq Sandstone (basal member of the Saq Sandstone) of medial Cambrian age, rests nonconformably on crystalline basement, and has yielded a K-Ar whole-rock age (on andesitic basalt) of ???540 Ma. To judge from the fossils, however, that age may be as much as 100 Ma or more too young. ?? 1979.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Shell structure and distribution of Cloudina, a potential index fossil for the terminal Proterozoic

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Grant, S. W.; Knoll, A. H. (Principal Investigator)

    1990-01-01

    Cloudina-bearing biosparites and biomicrites in the lower part of the Nama Group, Namibia, contain a wide morphological diversity of shell fragments that can all be attributed to the two named species C. hartmannae and C. riemkeae. The curved to sinuous tubular shells of Cloudina were multi-layered. Each shell layer was 8 to 50 micrometers thick and in the form of a slightly flaring tube with one end open and the other closed. Growth appears to have been periodic with successive shell layers forming within older layers. Each added layer was slightly elevated from the previous layer at the proximal end and was asymmetrically placed within the older layer so that only a portion of the new shell layer was fused to the previous layer. This type of growth left a relatively large unminerialized area between the shell layers which was often partially or fully occluded by early marine cements. The thin shell layers exhibit both plastic and brittle deformation and were likely formed of a rigid CaCO3-impregnated organic-rich material. Often the shell layers are preferentially dolomitized suggesting an original mineralogy of high-magnesian calcite. Both species in the Nama Group formed thickets, or perhaps bioherms, and this sedentary and gregarious habit suggests that Cloudina was probably a filter-feeding metazoan of at least a cnidarian grade of organization. The unusual shell structure of Cloudina gives rise to a characteristic suite of taphonomic and diagenetic features that can be used to identify Cloudina-bearing deposits within the Nama Group and in other terminal Proterozoic deposits around the world. Species of Cloudina occur in limestones from Brazil, Spain, China, and Oman in sequences consistent with a latest Proterozoic age assignment. In addition, supposed lower Cambrian, pre-trilobitic, shelly fossils from northwest Mexico and the White-Inyo Mountains in California and Nevada, including Sinotubulites, Nevadatubulus, and Wyattia, are all either closely related

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

    PubMed

    Budd, Graham E

    2003-02-01

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. The fossil record of the sixth extinction.

    PubMed

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

    2016-05-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. Adaptation, plant evolution, and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    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

  17. Cladistics and the hominid fossil record.

    PubMed

    Trinkaus, E

    1990-09-01

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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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)

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

    PubMed

    Budd, Graham E

    2008-04-27

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

  4. On the fossil record of the Gekkota.

    PubMed

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

    2014-03-01

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

  5. Fossils of parasites: what can the fossil record tell us about the evolution of parasitism?

    PubMed

    Leung, Tommy L F

    2017-02-01

    Parasites are common in many ecosystems, yet because of their nature, they do not fossilise readily and are very rare in the geological record. This makes it challenging to study the evolutionary transition that led to the evolution of parasitism in different taxa. Most studies on the evolution of parasites are based on phylogenies of extant species that were constructed based on morphological and molecular data, but they give us an incomplete picture and offer little information on many important details of parasite-host interactions. The lack of fossil parasites also means we know very little about the roles that parasites played in ecosystems of the past even though it is known that parasites have significant influences on many ecosystems. The goal of this review is to bring attention to known fossils of parasites and parasitism, and provide a conceptual framework for how research on fossil parasites can develop in the future. Despite their rarity, there are some fossil parasites which have been described from different geological eras. These fossils include the free-living stage of parasites, parasites which became fossilised with their hosts, parasite eggs and propagules in coprolites, and traces of pathology inflicted by parasites on the host's body. Judging from the fossil record, while there were some parasite-host relationships which no longer exist in the present day, many parasite taxa which are known from the fossil record seem to have remained relatively unchanged in their general morphology and their patterns of host association over tens or even hundreds of millions of years. It also appears that major evolutionary and ecological transitions throughout the history of life on Earth coincided with the appearance of certain parasite taxa, as the appearance of new host groups also provided new niches for potential parasites. As such, fossil parasites can provide additional data regarding the ecology of their extinct hosts, since many parasites have

  6. Estimating times of extinction in the fossil record

    PubMed Central

    Marshall, Charles R.

    2016-01-01

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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)

  9. 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.

  10. 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)

  11. The quality of the fossil record of Mesozoic birds.

    PubMed

    Fountaine, Toby M R; Benton, Michael J; Dyke, Gareth J; Nudds, Robert L

    2005-02-07

    The Mesozoic fossil record has proved critical for understanding the early evolution and subsequent radiation of birds. Little is known, however, about its relative completeness: just how 'good' is the fossil record of birds from the Mesozoic? This question has come to prominence recently in the debate over differences in estimated dates of origin of major clades of birds from molecular and palaeontological data. Using a dataset comprising all known fossil taxa, we present analyses that go some way towards answering this question. Whereas avian diversity remains poorly represented in the Mesozoic, many relatively complete bird specimens have been discovered. New taxa have been added to the phylogenetic tree of basal birds, but its overall shape remains constant, suggesting that the broad outlines of early avian evolution are consistently represented: no stage in the Mesozoic is characterized by an overabundance of scrappy fossils compared with more complete specimens. Examples of Neornithes (modern orders) are known from later stages in the Cretaceous, but their fossils are rarer and scrappier than those of basal bird groups, which we suggest is a biological, rather than a geological, signal.

  12. Evolution of the Proterozoic Earth System: Insights from the ∆17O Record of Sedimentary Sulfate Minerals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Crockford, P. W.; Hayles, J. A.; Halverson, G. P.; Bekker, A.; Rainbird, R.; Wing, B. A.

    2014-12-01

    Triple oxygen isotope ratios (18O/16O and 17O/16O) are a powerful tool to tease out interconnections within the Surface Earth System, both today and throughout Earth's history. This ability comes from the fact that stratospheric photochemistry imparts a negative ∆17O anomaly (∆17O = δ17O - 0.52×δ18O) to atmospheric oxygen whose magnitude is proportional to pCO2 levels and photosynthetic oxygen production. Atmospheric oxygen readily weathers continental sulfides and, as a result, the secular variations in atmospheric ∆17O values may be recorded in marine sulfate minerals (barite, gypsum and anhydrite). The largest ∆17O anomalies found in the rock record are from peculiar barite layers that immediately post-date the 635 Ma Marinoan Snowball Event. While these anomalies have been interpreted to result from a weak post-glacial photosynthetic O2 flux, the balance of other evidence (e.g., Zn isotope records of near-modern post-glacial productivity) suggests that they instead reflect the elevated CO2 levels thought to be required to exit a snowball state. As this situation illustrates, the ∆17O record by itself does not provide a unique solution between production of the anomaly by stratospheric reactions and its destruction by global biospheric productivity. In the context of additional geological and geochemical constraints, however, a marine sulfate ∆17O record has the potential to provide new insights into paleoatmospheres, paleoclimates, and paleoproductivity. We have produced new data (n ≈ 200) for Proterozoic evaporites that extend the sulfate ∆17O record from the Neoproterozoic to ~2.3 Ga. This data will be interpreted within our current understanding of Proterozoic Earth System Evolution on basinal to global scales and will address key questions that include: Were Paleoproterozoic glacial episodes terminated by elevated pCO2? Was the Great Oxidation Event accompanied by enhanced productivity? Does the lack of C isotope variability throughout

  13. Preservational bias controls the fossil record of pterosaurs.

    PubMed

    Dean, Christopher D; Mannion, Philip D; Butler, Richard J

    2016-01-14

    Pterosaurs, a Mesozoic group of flying archosaurs, have become a focal point for debates pertaining to the impact of sampling biases on our reading of the fossil record, as well as the utility of sampling proxies in palaeodiversity reconstructions. The completeness of the pterosaur fossil specimens themselves potentially provides additional information that is not captured in existing sampling proxies, and might shed new light on the group's evolutionary history. Here we assess the quality of the pterosaur fossil record via a character completeness metric based on the number of phylogenetic characters that can be scored for all known skeletons of 172 valid species, with averaged completeness values calculated for each geological stage. The fossil record of pterosaurs is observed to be strongly influenced by the occurrence and distribution of Lagerstätten. Peaks in completeness correlate with Lagerstätten deposits, and a recovered correlation between completeness and observed diversity is rendered non-significant when Lagerstätten species are excluded. Intervals previously regarded as potential extinction events are shown to lack Lagerstätten and exhibit low completeness values: as such, the apparent low diversity in these intervals might be at least partly the result of poor fossil record quality. A positive correlation between temporal patterns in completeness of Cretaceous pterosaurs and birds further demonstrates the prominent role that Lagerstätten deposits have on the preservation of smaller bodied organisms, contrasting with a lack of correlation with the completeness of large-bodied sauropodomorphs. However, we unexpectedly find a strong correlation between sauropodomorph and pterosaur completeness within the Triassic-Jurassic, but not the Cretaceous, potentially relating to a shared shift in environmental preference and thus preservation style through time. This study highlights the importance of understanding the relationship between various

  14. Preservational bias controls the fossil record of pterosaurs

    PubMed Central

    Dean, Christopher D.; Mannion, Philip D.; Butler, Richard J.

    2016-01-01

    Pterosaurs, a Mesozoic group of flying archosaurs, have become a focal point for debates pertaining to the impact of sampling biases on our reading of the fossil record, as well as the utility of sampling proxies in palaeodiversity reconstructions. The completeness of the pterosaur fossil specimens themselves potentially provides additional information that is not captured in existing sampling proxies, and might shed new light on the group’s evolutionary history. Here we assess the quality of the pterosaur fossil record via a character completeness metric based on the number of phylogenetic characters that can be scored for all known skeletons of 172 valid species, with averaged completeness values calculated for each geological stage. The fossil record of pterosaurs is observed to be strongly influenced by the occurrence and distribution of Lagerstätten. Peaks in completeness correlate with Lagerstätten deposits, and a recovered correlation between completeness and observed diversity is rendered non-significant when Lagerstätten species are excluded. Intervals previously regarded as potential extinction events are shown to lack Lagerstätten and exhibit low completeness values: as such, the apparent low diversity in these intervals might be at least partly the result of poor fossil record quality. A positive correlation between temporal patterns in completeness of Cretaceous pterosaurs and birds further demonstrates the prominent role that Lagerstätten deposits have on the preservation of smaller bodied organisms, contrasting with a lack of correlation with the completeness of large-bodied sauropodomorphs. However, we unexpectedly find a strong correlation between sauropodomorph and pterosaur completeness within the Triassic–Jurassic, but not the Cretaceous, potentially relating to a shared shift in environmental preference and thus preservation style through time. This study highlights the importance of understanding the relationship between various

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. [Proterozoic history and present state of cyanobacteria].

    PubMed

    Sergeev, V N; Gerasimenko, L M; Zavarzin, G A

    2002-01-01

    The paper delves into the main regularities of the distribution of fossil microorganisms in Precambrian rocks, beginning from the Archean Eon about 3.5 billion years ago and ending in the Cambrian Period about 0.5 billion years ago. The paper analyzes facial peculiarities in the lateral differentiation of microfossils in Proterozoic basins and the main stages of temporal changes in fossil cyanobacterial communities, which are based on the irreversible succession of physicochemical conditions on the Earth and the evolution of eukaryotic microorganisms and their incorporation into prokaryotic ecosystems. To gain insight into Proterozoic fossil records, modern stratified cyanobacterial mats built up from layers of prokaryotes are considered. The analysis of phosphatization, carbonatization, and silification processes in modern algal-bacterial communities suggests that analogous processes took place in Proterozoic microbiotas. A comparison of modern and Precambrian living forms confirms the inference that cyanobacterial communities are very conservative and have changed insignificantly both morphologically and physiologically during the past two billion years.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. Trace sulfate in mid-Proterozoic carbonates and the sulfur isotope record of biospheric evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gellatly, Anne M.; Lyons, Timothy W.

    2005-08-01

    Concentrations of oceanic and atmospheric oxygen have varied over geologic time as a function of sulfur and carbon cycling at or near the Earth's surface. This balance is expressed in the sulfur isotope composition of seawater sulfate. Given the near absence of gypsum in pre-Phanerozoic sediments, trace amounts of carbonate-associated sulfate (CAS) within limestones or dolostones provide the best available constraints on the isotopic composition of sulfate in Precambrian seawater. Although absolute CAS concentrations, which range from those below detection to ˜120 ppm sulfate in this study, may be compromised by diagenesis, the sulfur isotope compositions can be buffered sufficiently to retain primary values. Stratigraphically controlled δ 34S measurements for CAS from three mid-Proterozoic carbonate successions (˜1.2 Ga Mescal Limestone, Apache Group, Arizona, USA; ˜1.45-1.47 Ga Helena and Newland formations, Belt Supergroup, Montana, USA; and ˜1.65 Ga Paradise Creek Formation, McNamara Group, NW Queensland, Australia) show large isotopic variability (+9.1‰ to +18.9‰, -1.1‰ to +27.3‰, and +14.1‰ to +37.3‰, respectively) over stratigraphic intervals of ˜50 to 450 m. This rapid variability, ranging from scattered to highly systematic, and overall low CAS abundances can be linked to sulfate concentrations in the mid-Proterozoic ocean that were substantially lower than those of the Phanerozoic but higher than values inferred for the Archean. Results from the Belt Supergroup specifically corroborate previous arguments for seawater contributions to the basin. Limited sulfate availability that tracks the oxygenation history of the early atmosphere is also consistent with the possibility of extensive deep-ocean sulfate reduction, the scarcity of bedded gypsum, and the stratigraphic δ 34S trends and 34S enrichments commonly observed for iron sulfides of mid-Proterozoic age.

  2. 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.

  3. The fossil record and macroevolutionary history of the beetles

    PubMed Central

    Smith, Dena M.; Marcot, Jonathan D.

    2015-01-01

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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Budd, Graham E

    2013-09-01

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

  9. 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

  10. Empirical Records of Environmental Change across the Archean-Proterozoic Transition

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kaufman, A. J.

    2011-12-01

    Time-series geochemical analyses of scientific drill cores intersecting the Archean-Proterozoic transition suggest a coupling of environmental and biological change that culminated in the pervasive oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere and oceans. Elemental and multiple isotope measurements of sedimentary archives, including carbonate, shale, and banded iron-formation from Western Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and southern Canada, indicate important changes in the carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen cycles that monitor the redox state of the oceans and the cyanobacterial buildup of atmospheric oxygen and ozone. In response, continental weathering would have increased, resulting in the enhanced delivery of sulfate and nutrients to seawater, further stimulating photoautotrophic fluxes of oxygen to surface environments. The positive feedback may additionally be responsible for the decline of atmospheric methane and surface refrigeration, represented by a series of discrete ice ages beginning around 2.4 billion years ago, due to the loss of greenhouse capacity during a time of lower solar luminosity. While speculative, the linkage of surface oxidation with enhanced nutrient supply and development of stratospheric sunscreen soon after the Archean-Proterozoic boundary suggests that the earliest perturbation in the carbon cycle may be associated with the rapid expansion of single-celled eukaryotes. Both sterol synthesis in eukaryotes and aerobic respiration require significant levels of oxygen in the ambient environment. Hence, Earth's earliest ice age(s) and onset of a modern and far more energetic carbon cycle may have been directly related to the global expansion of cyanobacteria that released oxygen to the environment, and of eukaryotes that respired it.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. Latest Proterozoic stratigraphy and earth history

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, Andrew H.; Walter, Malcolm R.

    1992-01-01

    Novel biostratigraphic and chemostratigraphic data furnish an improved framework for stratigraphic correlation of the Proterozoic Eon as well as tools for a chronostratigraphic division of the late Proterozoic. It is argued that, in conjunction with geochronometric data, protistan microfossils and isotope geochemistry can furnish a means for an eventual integration of the latest Proterozoic Eon. Attention is given to the emerging methodologies of fossil protists and prokaryotes and of isotopic chemostratigraphy.

  15. 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.

  16. Diamonds from Dachine, French Guiana: A unique record of early Proterozoic subduction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Smith, Chris B.; Walter, Michael J.; Bulanova, Galina P.; Mikhail, Sami; Burnham, Antony D.; Gobbo, Luiz; Kohn, Simon C.

    2016-11-01

    Diamonds from Dachine, French Guiana, are unique among worldwide diamond populations. The diamonds were transported to the surface in an unusual ultramafic extrusive magma with an affinity to boninite or komatiite, which was emplaced within an arc geological setting at 2.2 Ga. Dachine diamonds have internal and external morphologies indicative of relatively rapid growth from carbon oversaturated fluids or melts, and exhibit internal features consistent with residence in a high-strain environment. On the basis of nitrogen (N) defects the diamonds are categorized as Type Ib-IaA. The unusually low aggregation state of N places severe constraints on the thermal history of the diamonds, effectively ruling out derivation in convecting mantle. The carbon and N isotopic compositions of Dachine diamonds are consistent with a sedimentary source of carbon, with the majority of diamonds having δ13C values < - 25‰ and δ15N values > + 4‰. The primary carbon was presumably deposited on an early Proterozoic seafloor. Sulphide inclusions have low Ni and Cr and are comparable to lithospheric eclogitic-type sulphide inclusions. Three garnet and one clinopyroxene inclusion are also eclogitic in composition, and one garnet inclusion has a majorite component indicating an origin around 250 km depth. The silicate inclusions are highly depleted in many incompatible trace elements (e.g. LREE, Nb, Hf, Zr), and modelling indicates an eclogitic source lithology that contained a LREE-enriched trace phase such as epidote or allanite, and an HFSE-rich phase such as rutile. Four of the five inclusions are unusually enriched in Mn, as well as Ni and Co, and modelling suggests a protolith with a bulk composition of subducted normal MORB plus about 10% ferromanganese crust component. We suggest a model wherein Dachine diamonds precipitated from remobilized sedimentary carbon at the slab-mantle interface from liquids derived ultimately by deserpentinization of slab peridotite at depths of 200

  17. 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".

  18. 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

  19. Stratigraphic records of paleogeography and global change from two late Proterozoic basins

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Swanson-Hysell, Nicholas L.

    As sediments and volcanic deposits accumulate on Earth's surface, they record information about Earth's climate, the motion of continents, and the evolution of the biosphere. Through the study of ancient stratigraphic sequences, we can gain a window into our planet's varied, and sometimes tumultuous, past. In this dissertation, I employ a combination of field observations, magnetic data, and chemostratigraphic data in the Keweenawan Mid-continent Rift of North America and the Amadeus Basin of Central Australia to study the paleogeography and paleoclimate during and after the transition between the Mesoproterozoic (1.7 to 1.0 billion-years ago) and Neoproterozoic Eras (1.0 to 0.54 billion-years ago). The supercontinent Rodinia formed at the boundary between the Eras and broke apart throughout the Neoproterozoic. Basins that developed as Rodinia rifted apart record large changes in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and sulfur, the waxing and waning of low-latitude ice sheets, and the progressive oxygenation of the atmosphere that facilitated the evolution of animals. I report high-resolution paleomagnetic data in stratigraphic context from Mamainse Point, Ontario---the most complete succession in the 1.1 billion-year-old Mid-continent Rift. The results demonstrate that previous suggestions of large non-dipolar geomagnetic field components at the time stemmed from low temporal resolution across geomagnetic reversals during a period of rapid plate motion. This result strengthens the framework for evaluating records of tectonics and climate across the Mesoproterozoic/Neoproterozoic boundary. Rock magnetic experiments on Mamainse Point lavas, paired with electron microscopy, demonstrate that a component of the magnetization in oxidized flows that is antiparallel to the characteristic remanence is a result of martite self-reversal. This component is the best resolved natural example of the experimentally observed self-reversal that accompanies the maghemite to hematite

  20. 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.

  1. Isotopes, ice ages, and terminal Proterozoic earth history.

    PubMed

    Kaufman, A J; Knoll, A H; Narbonne, G M

    1997-06-24

    Detailed correlations of ancient glacial deposits, based on temporal records of carbon and strontium isotopes in seawater, indicate four (and perhaps five) discrete ice ages in the terminal Proterozoic Eon. The close and repeated stratigraphic relationship between C-isotopic excursions and glaciogenic rocks suggests that unusually high rates of organic carbon burial facilitated glaciation by reducing atmospheric greenhouse capacity. The emerging framework of time and environmental change contributes to the improved resolution of stratigraphic and evolutionary pattern in the early fossil record of animals.

  2. '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

  3. Frequency of Proterozoic geomagnetic superchrons

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Driscoll, Peter E.; Evans, David A. D.

    2016-03-01

    Long-term geodynamo evolution is expected to respond to inner core growth and changing patterns of mantle convection. Three geomagnetic superchrons, during which Earth's magnetic field maintained a near-constant polarity state through tens of Myr, are known from the bio/magnetostratigraphic record of Phanerozoic time, perhaps timed according to supercontinental episodicity. Some geodynamo simulations incorporating a much smaller inner core, as would have characterized Proterozoic time, produce field reversals at a much lower rate. Here we compile polarity ratios of site means within a quality-filtered global Proterozoic paleomagnetic database, according to recent plate kinematic models. Various smoothing parameters, optimized to successfully identify the known Phanerozoic superchrons, indicate 3-10 possible Proterozoic superchrons during the 1300 Myr interval studied. Proterozoic geodynamo evolution thus appears to indicate a relatively narrow range of reversal behavior through the last two billion years, implying either remarkable stability of core dynamics over this time or insensitivity of reversal rate to core evolution.

  4. 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.

  5. Old World fossil record of modern-type hummingbirds.

    PubMed

    Mayr, Gerald

    2004-05-07

    I report on tiny skeletons of stem-group hummingbirds from the early Oligocene of Germany that are of essentially modern appearance and exhibit morphological specializations toward nectarivory and hovering flight. These are the oldest fossils of modern-type hummingbirds, which had not previously been reported from the Old World. The findings demonstrate that early hummingbird evolution was not restricted to the New World. They further suggest that bird-flower coevolution dates back to the early Oligocene and open another view on the origin of ornithophily in Old World plants.

  6. 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.

  7. Environmental Impact on Fossil Record for Palaecological Reconstruction Studies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paraskevi, Chantzi; Elissavet, Dotsika; Brunella, Raco; Konstadinos, Albanakis; Anastasia, Poutouki; Eleni, Samarztidou

    2016-10-01

    Paleoecological studies have an important role in understanding past environmental, dietary and/or societal changes however require the authentic signature of fossil materials. Therefore, a significant part of these studies concerns the isolation of the material authentic matrix. Bone hydroxyapatite from different animal species from the archaeological site of Dispilio in Kastoria Lake basin in northern Greece has been subjected to mineral analysis in order to detect if there are suitable for palaoecological studies. Calcium, phosphorus, oxygen and hydrogen are the main components of bones resulting rigidity, hardness and compressive strength of their structure. However different bone structure resulting different calcium- phosphate phases and different compositions, including Ca/P ratios. These disparities may be attributable to different physiological characteristic, conditions under which the bones were formed or burial environment. Trace element analysis (Ca/P, Sr/P, Fe/Mn) concluded that treated fossil bones retained their biochemical signal without any strong influence by soil remains however without suggesting that no chemical alteration have been occurred.

  8. Integrated approaches to terminal Proterozoic stratigraphy: an example from the Olenek Uplift, northeastern Siberia

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, A. H.; Grotzinger, J. P.; Kaufman, A. J.; Kolosov, P.

    1995-01-01

    In the Olenek Uplift of northeastern Siberia, the Khorbusuonka Group and overlying Kessyusa and Erkeket formations preserve a significant record of terminal Proterozoic and basal Cambrian Earth history. A composite section more than 350 m thick is reconstructed from numerous exposures along the Khorbusuonka River. The Khorbusuonka Group comprises three principal sedimentary sequences: peritidal dolomites of the Mastakh Formation, which are bounded above and below by red beds; the Khatyspyt and most of the overlying Turkut formations, which shallow upward from relatively deep-water carbonaceous micrites to cross-bedded dolomitic grainstones and stromatolites; and a thin upper Turkut sequence bounded by karst surfaces. The overlying Kessyusa Formation is bounded above and below by erosional surfaces and contains additional parasequence boundaries internally. Ediacaran metazoans, simple trace fossils, and vendotaenids occur in the Khatyspyt Formation; small shelly fossils, more complex trace fossils, and acritarchs all appear near the base of the Kessyusa Formation and diversify upward. The carbon-isotopic composition of carbonates varies stratigraphically in a pattern comparable to that determined for other terminal Proterozoic and basal Cambrian successions. In concert, litho-, bio-, and chemostratigraphic data indicate the importance of the Khorbusuonka Group in the global correlation of terminal Proterozoic sedimentary rocks. Stratigraphic data and a recently determined radiometric date on basal Kessyusa volcanic breccias further underscore the significance of the Olenek region in investigations of the Proterozoic-cambrian boundary.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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)

  12. 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

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

    PubMed

    Daley, Allison C; Drage, Harriet B

    2016-03-01

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

  14. 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

    2015-02-07

    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.

  15. 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

  16. Evidence for low sulphate and anoxia in a mid-Proterozoic marine basin.

    PubMed

    Shen, Yanan; Knoll, Andrew H; Walter, Malcolm R

    2003-06-05

    Many independent lines of evidence document a large increase in the Earth's surface oxidation state 2,400 to 2,200 million years ago, and a second biospheric oxygenation 800 to 580 million years ago, just before large animals appear in the fossil record. Such a two-staged oxidation implies a unique ocean chemistry for much of the Proterozoic eon, which would have been neither completely anoxic and iron-rich as hypothesized for Archaean seas, nor fully oxic as supposed for most of the Phanerozoic eon. The redox chemistry of Proterozoic oceans has important implications for evolution, but empirical constraints on competing environmental models are scarce. Here we present an analysis of the iron chemistry of shales deposited in the marine Roper Basin, Australia, between about 1,500 and 1,400 million years ago, which record deep-water anoxia beneath oxidized surface water. The sulphur isotopic compositions of pyrites in the shales show strong variations along a palaeodepth gradient, indicating low sulphate concentrations in mid-Proterozoic oceans. Our data help to integrate a growing body of evidence favouring a long-lived intermediate state of the oceans, generated by the early Proterozoic oxygen revolution and terminated by the environmental transformation late in the Proterozoic eon.

  17. When can decreasing diversification rates be detected with molecular phylogenies and the fossil record?

    PubMed

    Liow, Lee Hsiang; Quental, Tiago B; Marshall, Charles R

    2010-12-01

    Traditionally, patterns and processes of diversification could only be inferred from the fossil record. However, there are an increasing number of tools that enable diversification dynamics to be inferred from molecular phylogenies. The application of these tools to new data sets has renewed interest in the question of the prevalence of diversity-dependent diversification. However, there is growing recognition that the absence of extinct species in molecular phylogenies may prevent accurate inferences about the underlying diversification dynamics. On the other hand, even though the fossil record provides direct data on extinct species, its incompleteness can also mask true diversification processes. Here, using computer-generated diversity-dependent phylogenies, we mimicked molecular phylogenies by eliminating extinct lineages. We also simulated the fossil record by converting the temporal axis into discrete intervals and imposing a variety of preservation processes on the lineages. Given the lack of reliable phylogenies for many fossil marine taxa, we also stripped away phylogenetic information from the computer-generated phylogenies. For the simulated molecular phylogenies, we examined the efficacy of the standard metric (the γ statistic) for identifying decreasing rates of diversification. We find that the underlying decreasing rate of diversification is detected only when the rate of change in the diversification rate is high, and if the molecular phylogeny happens to capture the diversification process as the equilibrium diversity is first reached or shortly thereafter. In contrast, estimating rates of diversification from the simulated fossil record captures the expected zero rate of diversification after equilibrium is reached under a wide range of preservation scenarios. The ability to detect the initial decreasing rate of diversification is lost as the temporal resolution of the fossil record drops and with a decreased quality of preservation. When the

  18. The environmental distribution of late proterozoic organisms

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, A. H.

    1991-01-01

    Along present day coast lines, the environmental distributions of prokaryotic and protistan populations are often sharply delimited. Realized habitat ranges are generally narrower than those circumscribed by physiological tolerances, suggesting the importance of organism-organism interactions in the determination of population distributions. Microfossil populations preserved in silicified carbonates, dolomites, and shales of the 700-800 Ma old Akademikerbreen Group, Svalbard, and elsewhere indicate that the environmental distributions were defined equally clearly during the Proterozoic Eon. The Draken Conglomerate Formation is a tidal flat/lagoonal complex in which we have distinguished five principle biofacies containing a total of 42 taxa. Supratidal to subtidal gradients include the increasing abundance and diversity of both mat dweller microbenthos and allochthonous (principally planktonic) organisms, as well as a taphonomically important pattern of decreasing sheath thickness among mat builder microorganisms. The seaward barriers of Akademikerbreen lagoons were oolitic shoals, and these contain about a dozen endolithic and epilithic species not observed elsewhere in the group. Subtidal environments below fair weather wave base are represented by mudstones of the Svanbergfjellet Formation. These contain abundant and diverse cyanobacteria-like fossils generally similar to but specifically different from those found in tidal flat sediments, as well as diverse unicellular protists (some of impressive morphological complexity) and at least half a dozen cellularly preserved metaphyte populations. In all, more than 80 species are distributed among Akademikerbreen lithologies. Fossil assemblages from Svalbard and elsewhere illustrate the potential for a much finer paleoecological, biostratigraphic, and, hence, evolutionary resolution of the early fossil record.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Mass extinction events and the plant fossil record.

    PubMed

    McElwain, Jennifer C; Punyasena, Surangi W

    2007-10-01

    Five mass extinction events have punctuated the geological record of marine invertebrate life. They are characterized by faunal extinction rates and magnitudes that far exceed those observed elsewhere in the geological record. Despite compelling evidence that these extinction events were probably driven by dramatic global environmental change, they were originally thought to have little macroecological or evolutionary consequence for terrestrial plants. New high-resolution regional palaeoecological studies are beginning to challenge this orthodoxy, providing evidence for extensive ecological upheaval, high species-level turnover and recovery intervals lasting millions of years. The challenge ahead is to establish the geographical extent of the ecological upheaval, because reconstructing the vegetation dynamics associated with these events will elucidate the role of floral change in faunal mass extinction and provide a better understanding of how plants have historically responded to global environmental change similar to that anticipated for our future.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. The completeness of the fossil record of mesozoic birds: implications for early avian evolution.

    PubMed

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

    2012-01-01

    Many palaeobiological analyses have concluded that modern birds (Neornithes) radiated no earlier than the Maastrichtian, whereas molecular clock studies have argued for a much earlier origination. Here, we assess the quality of the fossil record of Mesozoic avian species, using a recently proposed character completeness metric which calculates the percentage of phylogenetic characters that can be scored for each taxon. Estimates of fossil record quality are plotted against geological time and compared to estimates of species level diversity, sea level, and depositional environment. Geographical controls on the avian fossil record are investigated by comparing the completeness scores of species in different continental regions and latitudinal bins. Avian fossil record quality varies greatly with peaks during the Tithonian-early Berriasian, Aptian, and Coniacian-Santonian, and troughs during the Albian-Turonian and the Maastrichtian. The completeness metric correlates more strongly with a 'sampling corrected' residual diversity curve of avian species than with the raw taxic diversity curve, suggesting that the abundance and diversity of birds might influence the probability of high quality specimens being preserved. There is no correlation between avian completeness and sea level, the number of fluviolacustrine localities or a recently constructed character completeness metric of sauropodomorph dinosaurs. Comparisons between the completeness of Mesozoic birds and sauropodomorphs suggest that small delicate vertebrate skeletons are more easily destroyed by taphonomic processes, but more easily preserved whole. Lagerstätten deposits might therefore have a stronger impact on reconstructions of diversity of smaller organisms relative to more robust forms. The relatively poor quality of the avian fossil record in the Late Cretaceous combined with very patchy regional sampling means that it is possible neornithine lineages were present throughout this interval but have

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

    Many palaeobiological analyses have concluded that modern birds (Neornithes) radiated no earlier than the Maastrichtian, whereas molecular clock studies have argued for a much earlier origination. Here, we assess the quality of the fossil record of Mesozoic avian species, using a recently proposed character completeness metric which calculates the percentage of phylogenetic characters that can be scored for each taxon. Estimates of fossil record quality are plotted against geological time and compared to estimates of species level diversity, sea level, and depositional environment. Geographical controls on the avian fossil record are investigated by comparing the completeness scores of species in different continental regions and latitudinal bins. Avian fossil record quality varies greatly with peaks during the Tithonian-early Berriasian, Aptian, and Coniacian–Santonian, and troughs during the Albian-Turonian and the Maastrichtian. The completeness metric correlates more strongly with a ‘sampling corrected’ residual diversity curve of avian species than with the raw taxic diversity curve, suggesting that the abundance and diversity of birds might influence the probability of high quality specimens being preserved. There is no correlation between avian completeness and sea level, the number of fluviolacustrine localities or a recently constructed character completeness metric of sauropodomorph dinosaurs. Comparisons between the completeness of Mesozoic birds and sauropodomorphs suggest that small delicate vertebrate skeletons are more easily destroyed by taphonomic processes, but more easily preserved whole. Lagerstätten deposits might therefore have a stronger impact on reconstructions of diversity of smaller organisms relative to more robust forms. The relatively poor quality of the avian fossil record in the Late Cretaceous combined with very patchy regional sampling means that it is possible neornithine lineages were present throughout this interval but

  10. 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.

  11. The origin of animals: Can molecular clocks and the fossil record be reconciled?

    PubMed

    Cunningham, John A; Liu, Alexander G; Bengtson, Stefan; Donoghue, Philip C J

    2017-01-01

    The evolutionary emergence of animals is one of the most significant episodes in the history of life, but its timing remains poorly constrained. Molecular clocks estimate that animals originated and began diversifying over 100 million years before the first definitive metazoan fossil evidence in the Cambrian. However, closer inspection reveals that clock estimates and the fossil record are less divergent than is often claimed. Modern clock analyses do not predict the presence of the crown-representatives of most animal phyla in the Neoproterozoic. Furthermore, despite challenges provided by incomplete preservation, a paucity of phylogenetically informative characters, and uncertain expectations of the anatomy of early animals, a number of Neoproterozoic fossils can reasonably be interpreted as metazoans. A considerable discrepancy remains, but much of this can be explained by the limited preservation potential of early metazoans and the difficulties associated with their identification in the fossil record. Critical assessment of both records may permit better resolution of the tempo and mode of early animal evolution.

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

    PubMed

    Bibi, Faysal

    2011-02-16

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

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

    PubMed Central

    Bibi, Faysal

    2011-01-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

    2012-04-07

    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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  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. 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.

  2. 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

    2009-11-03

    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.

  3. Quantifying Uncertainty in Spatio-temporal Forest Composition Changes Inferred from Fossil Pollen Records

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dawson, A.; Paciorek, C. J.; McLachlan, J. S.; Goring, S. J.; Williams, J. W.; Jackson, S. T.

    2014-12-01

    Understanding past compositional changes in vegetation provides insight about ecosystem dynamics in response to changing environments. Past vegetation reconstructions rely predominantly on fossil pollen data from sedimentary lake cores, which acts as a proxy record for the surrounding vegetation. Stratigraphic changes in these pollen records allow us to infer changes in composition and species distributions. Pollen records collected from a network of sites allow us to make inference about the spatio-temporal changes in vegetation over thousands of years. However, the complexity of the relationship between pollen deposits and surrounding vegetation, as well as the spatially sparse set of fossil pollen sites are important sources of uncertainty. In addition, uncertainty arises from the carbon dating and age-depth modelling processes. To reconstruct vegetation composition including uncertainty for the Upper Midwestern USA, we build a Bayesian hierarchical model that links vegetation composition to fossil pollen data via a dispersal model. In the calibration phase, we estimate the relationship between vegetation and pollen for the settlement era using Public Land Survey data and a network of pollen records. In the prediction phase, parameter estimates obtained during the calibration phase are used to estimate latent species distributions and relative abundances over the last 2500 years. We account for additional uncertainty in the pollen records by: allowing expert palynologists to identify pre-settlement pollen samples to be included in our calibration data, and through the incorporation of age uncertainty obtained from the Bayesian age-depth model BACON in our prediction data. Resulting spatio-temporal composition and abundance estimates will be used to improve forecasting capabilities of ecosystem models.

  4. Exceptional fossil preservation and the cambrian explosion.

    PubMed

    Butterfield, Nicholas J

    2003-02-01

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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-06-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-02-05

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

  10. Mass extinctions among tetrapods and the quality of the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Benton, M J

    1989-11-06

    The fossil record of tetrapods is very patchy because of the problems of preservation, in terrestrial sediments in particular, 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, and there is the potential for more detailed ecological analyses. The relative incompleteness of a fossil record may be assessed readily, and this can be used to test whether drops in overall diversity are related to mass extinctions or to gaps in our knowledge. Absolute incompleteness cannot be assessed directly, but a historical approach may offer clues to future improvements in our knowledge. One of the key problems facing palaeobiologists is paraphyly, the fact that many higher taxa in common use do not contain all of the descendants of the common ancestor. This may be overcome by cladistic analysis and the identification of monophyletic groups. The diversity of tetrapods increased from the Devonian to the Permian, remained roughly constant during the Mesozoic, and 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, crocodilians, birds and mammals--was hardly affected by the celebrated end-Cretaceous extinction event. Major mass extinctions among tetrapods took place in the early Permian, late Permian, early Triassic, late Triassic, late Cretaceous, early Oligocene and late Miocene. Many of these events appear to coincide with the major mass extinctions among marine invertebrates, but the tetrapod record is largely equivocal with regard to the theory of periodicity of mass extinctions.

  11. Sequences, stratigraphy and scenarios: what can we say about the fossil record of the earliest tetrapods?

    PubMed Central

    Friedman, Matt; Brazeau, Martin D.

    2011-01-01

    Past research on the emergence of digit-bearing tetrapods has led to the widely accepted premise that this important evolutionary event occurred during the Late Devonian. The discovery of convincing digit-bearing tetrapod trackways of early Middle Devonian age in Poland has upset this orthodoxy, indicating that current scenarios which link the timing of the origin of digited tetrapods to specific events in Earth history are likely to be in error. Inspired by this find, we examine the fossil record of early digit-bearing tetrapods and their closest fish-like relatives from a statistical standpoint. We find that the Polish trackways force a substantial reconsideration of the nature of the early tetrapod record when only body fossils are considered. However, the effect is less drastic (and often not statistically significant) when other reliably dated trackways that were previously considered anachronistic are taken into account. Using two approaches, we find that 95 per cent credible and confidence intervals for the origin of digit-bearing tetrapods extend into the Early Devonian and beyond, spanning late Emsian to mid Ludlow. For biologically realistic diversity models, estimated genus-level preservation rates for Devonian digited tetrapods and their relatives range from 0.025 to 0.073 per lineage-million years, an order of magnitude lower than species-level rates for groups typically considered to have dense records. Available fossils of early digited tetrapods and their immediate relatives are adequate for documenting large-scale patterns of character acquisition associated with the origin of terrestriality, but low preservation rates coupled with clear geographical and stratigraphic sampling biases caution against building scenarios for the origin of digits and terrestrialization tied to the provenance of particular specimens or faunas. PMID:20739322

  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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. Microbial mat records in siliciclastic rocks: Examples from Four Indian Proterozoic basins and their modern equivalents in Gulf of Cambay

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sarkar, Subir; Banerjee, Santanu; Samanta, Pradip; Chakraborty, Nivedita; Chakraborty, Partha Pratim; Mukhopadhyay, Soumik; Singh, Arvind K.

    2014-09-01

    Microbial mat-related structures (MRS) in siliciclastics have been investigated from four Proterozic formations in India, namely the Marwar Supergroup, the Vindhyan Supergroup, the Chhatisgarh Supergroup and the Khariar Group for their spectral variations, genetic aspects, palaeo-environmental significance and influence on sequence stratigraphic architecture. The maximum diversification of MRS has been experienced in shallow marine coastal Precambrian successions. Observations made from modern environment as well as Precambrian rock records clearly indicates that the features like petee ridges, sand-cracks, gas domes, multi-directed ripples, reticulate surfaces, sieve-like surfaces and setulf are most likely to form in the shallowest part of the marine basins, in upper intertidal to supratidal conditions while wrinkle structures, roll-up structures and patchy ripples had a broader range of palaeogeographic settings from the supratidal to subtidal conditions. Discoidal microbial colony (DMC) represents a special variety of the mat-layer feature in modern environment that may have diverse internal architecture, sometimes falsely resembles Ediacaran medusoids. The uniqueness in sequence stratigraphic architecture of the microbial mat-covered sediment is reflected by the presence of more amalgamated HSTs compare to that of TSTs. The preservation of forced and normal regressive deposits on low-gradient epeiric shelf under low continental freeboard indicates microbial mat-infested sea-floor impedes erosion and concomitant sediment supply may facilitate formation and preservation of regressive packages.

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

    PubMed

    Hipsley, Christy A; Müller, Johannes

    2014-03-01

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

  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 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

  5. 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.

  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.

  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. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Fossil record of stem groups employed in evaluating the chronogram of insects (Arthropoda: Hexapoda)

    PubMed Central

    Wang, Yan-hui; Engel, Michael S.; Rafael, José A.; Wu, Hao-yang; Rédei, Dávid; Xie, Qiang; Wang, Gang; Liu, Xiao-guang; Bu, Wen-jun

    2016-01-01

    Insecta s. str. (=Ectognatha), comprise the largest and most diversified group of living organisms, accounting for roughly half of the biodiversity on Earth. Understanding insect relationships and the specific time intervals for their episodes of radiation and extinction are critical to any comprehensive perspective on evolutionary events. Although some deeper nodes have been resolved congruently, the complete evolution of insects has remained obscure due to the lack of direct fossil evidence. Besides, various evolutionary phases of insects and the corresponding driving forces of diversification remain to be recognized. In this study, a comprehensive sample of all insect orders was used to reconstruct their phylogenetic relationships and estimate deep divergences. The phylogenetic relationships of insect orders were congruently recovered by Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood analyses. A complete timescale of divergences based on an uncorrelated log-normal relaxed clock model was established among all lineages of winged insects. The inferred timescale for various nodes are congruent with major historical events including the increase of atmospheric oxygen in the Late Silurian and earliest Devonian, the radiation of vascular plants in the Devonian, and with the available fossil record of the stem groups to various insect lineages in the Devonian and Carboniferous. PMID:27958352

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. Extinction intensity, selectivity and their combined macroevolutionary influence in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Payne, Jonathan L; Bush, Andrew M; Chang, Ellen T; Heim, Noel A; Knope, Matthew L; Pruss, Sara B

    2016-10-01

    The macroevolutionary effects of extinction derive from both intensity of taxonomic losses and selectivity of losses with respect to ecology, physiology and/or higher taxonomy. Increasingly, palaeontologists are using logistic regression to quantify extinction selectivity because the selectivity metric is independent of extinction intensity and multiple predictor variables can be assessed simultaneously. We illustrate the use of logistic regression with an analysis of physiological buffering capacity and extinction risk in the Phanerozoic marine fossil record. We propose the geometric mean of extinction intensity and selectivity as a metric for the influence of extinction events. The end-Permian mass extinction had the largest influence on the physiological composition of the fauna owing to its combination of high intensity and strong selectivity. In addition to providing a quantitative measure of influence to compare among past events, this approach provides an avenue for quantifying the risk posed by the emerging biodiversity crisis that goes beyond a simple projection of taxonomic losses.

  17. Toward a new synthesis: major evolutionary trends in the angiosperm fossil record.

    PubMed

    Dilcher, D

    2000-06-20

    Angiosperm paleobotany has widened its horizons, incorporated new techniques, developed new databases, and accepted new questions that can now focus on the evolution of the group. The fossil record of early flowering plants is now playing an active role in addressing questions of angiosperm phylogeny, angiosperm origins, and angiosperm radiations. Three basic nodes of angiosperm radiations are identified: (i) the closed carpel and showy radially symmetrical flower, (ii) the bilateral flower, and (iii) fleshy fruits and nutritious nuts and seeds. These are all coevolutionary events and spread out through time during angiosperm evolution. The proposal is made that the genetics of the angiosperms pressured the evolution of the group toward reproductive systems that favored outcrossing. This resulted in the strongest selection in the angiosperms being directed toward the flower, fruits, and seeds. That is why these organs often provide the best systematic characters for the group.

  18. 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

  19. Cyclical Stress Field Switching and (Total?) Relief of Fault Shear Stress Recorded in Quartz Vein Systems Hosted by Proterozoic Strike-Slip Faults, Mt Isa, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sibson, R. H.; Begbie, M. J.; Ghisetti, F. C.; Blenkinsop, T. G.

    2003-12-01

    The Proterozoic Mt Isa inlier ( ˜50,000 km2) in NW Queensland, Australia, underwent a complex tectonothermal history involving multiple episodes of intracontinental rifting, sedimentation, and magmatism that culminated in the Isan Orogeny (1590-1500 Ma) where strong E-W shortening led to compressional inversion of former rift basins. The resulting metamorphic complex of subgreenschist to amphibolite facies assemblages is disrupted by brittle, late-orogenic (1500-1450 Ma?) strike-slip faults. The faults occur in two mutually cross-cutting sets; a set of dextral strike-slip faults striking NE-SW to NNE-SSW with offsets <20 km, and a conjugate set of sinistral faults striking NW-SE to NNW-SSE. The two contemporaneous fault sets therefore lie at +/-45-60° to inferred E-W maximum compression, approaching the expected lock-up angle for 'Byerlee' friction coefficients. The faults commonly outcrop as linear blade-like ridges extending for many kilometres across the semi-arid terrain. Transects across the NE-SW Fountain Range and Overlander Faults which crosscut Corella Formation amphibolite facies assemblages and granites have shown that the fault zones are about 100 m in width with a composite brittle fabric comprising: (1) subvertical silicified cataclastic shear zones (cataclasites plus microbreccias containing vein fragments); (2) innumerable subvertical quartz-veins (cm to m thickness) lying subparallel to the principal shear zones (some retain purely dilational textures; others are multiply recemented fault-breccias with wallrock fragments); (3) highly irregular non-systematic veins; and (4) a systematic set of predominantly extensional, steep planar quartz veins oriented 080-120° at moderate angles to the main faults. Mutual cross-cutting relationships occur between all structural components, indicating broad contemporaneity. Recorded dextral separations along shear fracture components are commonly of the order of 1-10 cm, consistent with small-moderate seismic

  20. Introduction: The Proterozoic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jenkins, Gregory S.; McKay, Christopher P.; McMenamin, Mark A. S.

    The Proterozoic (2.5 Ga-545 Ma) is perhaps the most intriguing period in Earth's history. In a typical high school physical science textbook it may be presented as a rather boring period that today's student is happy to pass over in lieu of the Mesozoic and the extinction of Tyrannosaurus rex by a large asteroid. In reality this was a period full of excitement as it opens (in the PalaeoProterozoic) with low-latitude glaciation in concert with a rise in atmospheric oxygen. The Proterozoic ends with a glacial period and a possible rise in atmospheric oxygen levels. Other highlights of the Proterozoic include: three or more severe glacial events, a long period (1 billion years) of apparent warmth without evidence of glacial deposits, significant fluctuations in δC13, two or more periods where supercontinents were assembled, cap carbonates, banded iron formations, the rise of eukaryotes and the first complex life. The juxtaposition of extreme climate conditions and major evolutionary change among complex organisms during the Proterozoic is particularly puzzling, and begs the following question: What are the factors controlling the appearance of complex life?

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    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.

  2. The role of biology in planetary evolution: cyanobacterial primary production in low-oxygen Proterozoic oceans.

    PubMed

    Hamilton, Trinity L; Bryant, Donald A; Macalady, Jennifer L

    2016-02-01

    Understanding the role of biology in planetary evolution remains an outstanding challenge to geobiologists. Progress towards unravelling this puzzle for Earth is hindered by the scarcity of well-preserved rocks from the Archean (4.0 to 2.5 Gyr ago) and Proterozoic (2.5 to 0.5 Gyr ago) Eons. In addition, the microscopic life that dominated Earth's biota for most of its history left a poor fossil record, consisting primarily of lithified microbial mats, rare microbial body fossils and membrane-derived hydrocarbon molecules that are still challenging to interpret. However, it is clear from the sulfur isotope record and other geochemical proxies that the production of oxygen or oxidizing power radically changed Earth's surface and atmosphere during the Proterozoic Eon, pushing it away from the more reducing conditions prevalent during the Archean. In addition to ancient rocks, our reconstruction of Earth's redox evolution is informed by our knowledge of biogeochemical cycles catalysed by extant biota. The emergence of oxygenic photosynthesis in ancient cyanobacteria represents one of the most impressive microbial innovations in Earth's history, and oxygenic photosynthesis is the largest source of O2 in the atmosphere today. Thus the study of microbial metabolisms and evolution provides an important link between extant biota and the clues from the geologic record. Here, we consider the physiology of cyanobacteria (the only microorganisms capable of oxygenic photosynthesis), their co-occurrence with anoxygenic phototrophs in a variety of environments and their persistence in low-oxygen environments, including in water columns as well as mats, throughout much of Earth's history. We examine insights gained from both the rock record and cyanobacteria presently living in early Earth analogue ecosystems and synthesize current knowledge of these ancient microbial mediators in planetary redox evolution. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that anoxygenic photosynthesis

  3. The role of biology in planetary evolution: cyanobacterial primary production in low‐oxygen Proterozoic oceans

    PubMed Central

    Bryant, Donald A.; Macalady, Jennifer L.

    2016-01-01

    Summary Understanding the role of biology in planetary evolution remains an outstanding challenge to geobiologists. Progress towards unravelling this puzzle for Earth is hindered by the scarcity of well‐preserved rocks from the Archean (4.0 to 2.5 Gyr ago) and Proterozoic (2.5 to 0.5 Gyr ago) Eons. In addition, the microscopic life that dominated Earth's biota for most of its history left a poor fossil record, consisting primarily of lithified microbial mats, rare microbial body fossils and membrane‐derived hydrocarbon molecules that are still challenging to interpret. However, it is clear from the sulfur isotope record and other geochemical proxies that the production of oxygen or oxidizing power radically changed Earth's surface and atmosphere during the Proterozoic Eon, pushing it away from the more reducing conditions prevalent during the Archean. In addition to ancient rocks, our reconstruction of Earth's redox evolution is informed by our knowledge of biogeochemical cycles catalysed by extant biota. The emergence of oxygenic photosynthesis in ancient cyanobacteria represents one of the most impressive microbial innovations in Earth's history, and oxygenic photosynthesis is the largest source of O 2 in the atmosphere today. Thus the study of microbial metabolisms and evolution provides an important link between extant biota and the clues from the geologic record. Here, we consider the physiology of cyanobacteria (the only microorganisms capable of oxygenic photosynthesis), their co‐occurrence with anoxygenic phototrophs in a variety of environments and their persistence in low‐oxygen environments, including in water columns as well as mats, throughout much of Earth's history. We examine insights gained from both the rock record and cyanobacteria presently living in early Earth analogue ecosystems and synthesize current knowledge of these ancient microbial mediators in planetary redox evolution. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that anoxygenic

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-05-01

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

  9. Strong coupling of predation intensity and diversity in the Phanerozoic fossil record.

    PubMed

    Huntley, John Warren; Kowalewski, Michal

    2007-09-18

    The importance of ecological interactions in driving the evolution of animals has been the focus of intense debate among paleontologists, evolutionary biologists, and macroecologists. To test whether the intensity of such interactions covaries with the secular evolutionary trend in global biodiversity, we compiled a species-level database of predation intensity, as measured by the frequency of common predation traces (drillings and repair scars ranging in age from Ediacaran to Holocene). The results indicate that the frequency of predation traces increased notably by the Ordovician, and not in the mid-Paleozoic as suggested by multiple previous studies. Importantly, these estimates of predation intensity and global diversity of marine metazoans correlate throughout the Phanerozoic fossil record regardless of corrections and methods applied. This concordance may represent (i) an ecological signal: long-term coupling of diversity and predation; (ii) a diversity-driven diffusion of predatory behaviors: an increased probability of more complex predatory strategies to appear at higher diversity levels; or (iii) a spurious concordance in signal capture: an artifact where rare species and less-frequent (e.g., trace-producing) predatory behaviors are both more detectable at times when sampling improves. The coupling of predation and diversity records suggests that macroevolutionary and macroecological patterns share common causative mechanisms that may reflect either historical processes or sampling artifacts.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

    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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2004-12-01

    Criticism of molecular clock studies often centres on inadequate calibration and a perceived lack of correlation between reproductive isolation and recognisable morphological evolution. Since many major groups (e.g. birds, mammals, reptiles) have a poor fossil record, it is often difficult to test and refute these limitations. Planktic foraminifera represent an exception to this rule. Deep-sea sediments are super-abundant in foraminifera, and large numbers of specimens and occurrences are easily garnered from Ocean Drilling Programme cores. Planktic foraminifera therefore represent an ideal model group with which to test and refine molecular clock studies. Since the 1990AƒAøAøâ_sA¬Aøâ_zAøs, genetic sequences (principally 18S r-RNA) have been extracted from living planktic foraminifera, and a large genetic library has developed. Our study attempts to contextualise and test molecular data, particularly AƒAøAøâ_sA¬A<Å"molecular clockAƒAøAøâ_sA¬Aøâ_zAø dates, utilising material from two ODP cores (Site 926A (Atlantic) and 806 (Pacific), to examine the evolutionary history of two sibling-species complexes (Globigerinella siphonifera and Globigerinoides ruber, both common shallow-water species and both of considerable palaeoceanographic utility). Recent genetic studies have suggested that these two AƒAøAøâ_sA¬A<Å"super-speciesAƒAøAøâ_sA¬Aøâ_zAø in fact consist of a number of isolated forms, with contrasting ecologies and longevities, which in Recent and sub-Recent sediments can be distinguished either on the basis of pore ultrastructure (Gl. siphonifera) or test colouration (Gs. ruber). In both cases, molecular clock estimates are indicative of ancient (7-11 Ma) intra-species cryptic divergences, which seem to be considerably older than fossil dates. In particular, the calculated molecular split between the two forms of Gs. ruber (AƒAøAøâ_sA¬A<Å"whiteAƒAøAøâ_sA¬Aøâ_zAø and AƒAøAøâ_sA¬A<Å"pinkA

  12. 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)

  13. Molecular Decay of the Tooth Gene Enamelin (ENAM) Mirrors the Loss of Enamel in the Fossil Record of Placental Mammals

    PubMed Central

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

    2009-01-01

    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 (ω) 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-10-23

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

  15. 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.

  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.

  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. 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.

  19. 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).

  20. Nacre tablet thickness records formation temperature in modern and fossil shells

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gilbert, Pupa U. P. A.; Bergmann, Kristin D.; Myers, Corinne E.; Marcus, Matthew A.; DeVol, Ross T.; Sun, Chang-Yu; Blonsky, Adam Z.; Tamre, Erik; Zhao, Jessica; Karan, Elizabeth A.; Tamura, Nobumichi; Lemer, Sarah; Giuffre, Anthony J.; Giribet, Gonzalo; Eiler, John M.; Knoll, Andrew H.

    2017-02-01

    Nacre, the iridescent outer lining of pearls and inner lining of many mollusk shells, is composed of periodic, parallel, organic sheets alternating with aragonite (CaCO3) tablet layers. Nacre tablet thickness (TT) generates both nacre's iridescence and its remarkable resistance to fracture. Despite extensive studies on how nacre forms, the mechanisms controlling TT remain unknown, even though they determine the most conspicuous of nacre's characteristics, visible even to the naked eye. Thermodynamics predicts that temperature (T) will affect both physical and chemical components of biomineralized skeletons. The chemical composition of biominerals is well-established to record environmental parameters, and has therefore been extensively used in paleoclimate studies. The physical structure, however, has been hypothesized but never directly demonstrated to depend on the environment. Here we observe that the physical TT in nacre from modern and fossil shallow-water shells of the bivalves Pinna and Atrina correlates with T as measured by the carbonate clumped isotope thermometer. Based on the observed TT vs. T correlation, we anticipate that TT will be used as a paleothermometer, useful to estimate paleotemperature in shallow-water paleoenvironments. Here we successfully test the proposed new nacre TT thermometer on two Jurassic Pinna shells. The increase of TT with T is consistent with greater aragonite growth rate at higher T, and with greater metabolic rate at higher T. Thus, it reveals a complex, T-dependent biophysical mechanism for nacre formation.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. Proterozoic microfossils revealing the time of algal divergences

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moczydlowska-Vidal, Malgorzata

    2010-05-01

    fossils more ubiquitously and without mineralization. Microalgae radiated quickly in the Cambrian and Ordovician; however, several morphotypes with features related to the reproductive cycle occur in the Proterozoic, although they are not always recognized as such. The assignment of Proterozoic unicellular microfossils with resistant cell walls to specific eukaryotic groups is tentative. However, we argue that the new interpretations of their functional morphology, combined with cell wall ultrastructure and biochemistry, allow their assignment to microalgal classes. Microfossils with advanced ornamentation and ontogenetically formed excystment structures or endocysts, which prove that they are cysts in a complex life cycle with sexual reproduction, are related to the basal lineage of the Chlorophytes and the class Chlorophyceae. A cell wall ultrastructure with a TLS supports the affinity of some spheroidal taxa to the Chlorophytes. The phylogeny of the Chlorophytes shows a sequence of branching nodes from a stem-group of the Viridiplantae that leads to the classes Prasinophyceae and Chlorophyceae, and then the Ulvophyceae. Based on a modern interpretation of the record, the timing of these nodes is deduced to be prior to c. 1650 Ma for the Prasinophyceae, c. 1450 Ma for the Chlorophyceae, and c. 950 Ma for the Ulvophyceae. The origin of the Chlorophytes, and in general the Viridiplantae, predates 1.8 Ga. These ages, based on microfossils, are earlier than the estimates based on molecular clocks.

  7. 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

  8. Limitations of a morphological criterion of adaptive inference in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Ravosa, Matthew J; Menegaz, Rachel A; Scott, Jeremiah E; Daegling, David J; McAbee, Kevin R

    2016-11-01

    Experimental analyses directly inform how an anatomical feature or complex functions during an organism's lifetime, which serves to increase the efficacy of comparative studies of living and fossil taxa. In the mammalian skull, food material properties and feeding behaviour have a pronounced influence on the development of the masticatory apparatus. Diet-related variation in loading magnitude and frequency induce a cascade of changes at the gross, tissue, cellular, protein and genetic levels, with such modelling and remodelling maintaining the integrity of oral structures vis-à-vis routine masticatory stresses. Ongoing integrative research using rabbit and rat models of long-term masticatory plasticity offers unique insight into the limitations of functional interpretations of fossilised remains. Given the general restriction of the palaeontological record to bony elements, we argue that failure to account for the disparity in the hierarchical network of responses of hard versus soft tissues may overestimate the magnitude of the adaptive divergence that is inferred from phenotypic differences. Second, we note that the developmental onset and duration of a loading stimulus associated with a given feeding behaviour can impart large effects on patterns of intraspecific variation that can mirror differences observed among taxa. Indeed, plasticity data are relevant to understanding evolutionary transformations because rabbits raised on different diets exhibit levels of morphological disparity comparable to those found between closely related primate species that vary in diet. Lastly, pronounced variation in joint form, and even joint function, can also characterise adult conspecifics that differ solely in age. In sum, our analyses emphasise the importance of a multi-site and hierarchical approach to understanding determinants of morphological variation, one which incorporates critical data on performance.

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-09-16

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

  10. 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.

  11. Evolutionary History of the Asian Horned Frogs (Megophryinae): Integrative Approaches to Timetree Dating in the Absence of a Fossil Record.

    PubMed

    Mahony, Stephen; Foley, Nicole M; Biju, S D; Teeling, Emma C

    2017-03-01

    Molecular dating studies typically need fossils to calibrate the analyses. Unfortunately, the fossil record is extremely poor or presently nonexistent for many species groups, rendering such dating analysis difficult. One such group is the Asian horned frogs (Megophryinae). Sampling all generic nomina, we combined a novel ∼5 kb dataset composed of four nuclear and three mitochondrial gene fragments to produce a robust phylogeny, with an extensive external morphological study to produce a working taxonomy for the group. Expanding the molecular dataset to include out-groups of fossil-represented ancestral anuran families, we compared the priorless RelTime dating method with the widely used prior-based Bayesian timetree method, MCMCtree, utilizing a novel combination of fossil priors for anuran phylogenetic dating. The phylogeny was then subjected to ancestral phylogeographic analyses, and dating estimates were compared with likely biogeographic vicariant events. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that previously proposed systematic hypotheses were incorrect due to the paraphyly of genera. Molecular phylogenetic, morphological, and timetree results support the recognition of Megophryinae as a single genus, Megophrys, with a subgenus level classification. Timetree results using RelTime better corresponded with the known fossil record for the out-group anuran tree. For the priorless in-group, it also outperformed MCMCtree when node date estimates were compared with likely influential historical biogeographic events, providing novel insights into the evolutionary history of this pan-Asian anuran group. Given a relatively small molecular dataset, and limited prior knowledge, this study demonstrates that the computationally rapid RelTime dating tool may outperform more popular and complex prior reliant timetree methodologies.

  12. †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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2006-12-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2009-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Hyžný, Matúš; Gašparič, Rok

    2014-06-19

    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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

    2016-07-08

    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.

  1. 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

  2. Deep-sea foraging behavior: its bathymetric potential in the fossil record.

    PubMed

    Kitchell, J A; Kitchell, J F; Clark, D L; Dangeard, L

    1978-06-16

    Spiral and meander foraging traces in the deep sea are not distributed in proportion to assumed food availability. Data collected by means of deep-sea photography failed to reveal a bathymetric gradient in behavioral complexity or sensitivity. The foraging paradigm developed by numerous trace fossil studies does not adequately predict the modern environment.

  3. New records and species of Crepidodera Chevrolat (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in Eocene European amber, with a brief review of described fossil beetles from Bitterfeld amber.

    PubMed

    Bukejs, Andris; Biondi, Maurizio; Alekseev, Vitalii I

    2016-11-15

    Based on six relatively well-preserved specimens from Eocene Baltic amber, Crepidodera tertiotertiaria sp. nov. is described. The new species is illustrated and compared with morphologically similar extant and fossil relatives. It is the third described fossil species of Crepidodera Chevrolat. In addition to the new taxon, new fossil records of C. decolorata Nadein & Perkovsky from Baltic and Bitterfeld amber are presented. A key to species of Crepidodera described from fossil resins is provided, and a checklist of Coleoptera described from Bitterfeld amber is compiled.

  4. 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.

  5. Proterozoic ocean redox and biogeochemical stasis

    PubMed Central

    Reinhard, Christopher T.; Planavsky, Noah J.; Robbins, Leslie J.; Partin, Camille A.; Gill, Benjamin C.; Lalonde, Stefan V.; Bekker, Andrey; Konhauser, Kurt O.; Lyons, Timothy W.

    2013-01-01

    The partial pressure of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere has increased dramatically through time, and this increase is thought to have occurred in two rapid steps at both ends of the Proterozoic Eon (∼2.5–0.543 Ga). However, the trajectory and mechanisms of Earth’s oxygenation are still poorly constrained, and little is known regarding attendant changes in ocean ventilation and seafloor redox. We have a particularly poor understanding of ocean chemistry during the mid-Proterozoic (∼1.8–0.8 Ga). Given the coupling between redox-sensitive trace element cycles and planktonic productivity, various models for mid-Proterozoic ocean chemistry imply different effects on the biogeochemical cycling of major and trace nutrients, with potential ecological constraints on emerging eukaryotic life. Here, we exploit the differing redox behavior of molybdenum and chromium to provide constraints on seafloor redox evolution by coupling a large database of sedimentary metal enrichments to a mass balance model that includes spatially variant metal burial rates. We find that the metal enrichment record implies a Proterozoic deep ocean characterized by pervasive anoxia relative to the Phanerozoic (at least ∼30–40% of modern seafloor area) but a relatively small extent of euxinic (anoxic and sulfidic) seafloor (less than ∼1–10% of modern seafloor area). Our model suggests that the oceanic Mo reservoir is extremely sensitive to perturbations in the extent of sulfidic seafloor and that the record of Mo and chromium enrichments through time is consistent with the possibility of a Mo–N colimited marine biosphere during many periods of Earth’s history. PMID:23515332

  6. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  8. Do species populations really start small? New perspectives from the Late Neogene fossil record of African mammals.

    PubMed Central

    Vrba, E S; DeGusta, D

    2004-01-01

    This analysis of all known African larger mammals of the past 10 Myr offers new perspectives on the geographical circumstances of speciation. Our central question is: does the fossil evidence support the idea that most new species start as small populations and, if true, how long is the average growth interval until species are established at their mean later size? This simple question is important to unravelling the competing claims of rival models of speciation. We approached it by direct use of fossil data, which, to our knowledge, has not been done previously. We compared the numbers of fossil site records, as a proxy for magnitude of geographical spread, between survivorship intervals across all species. The results show that the average mammal species has indeed started its life in a relatively small population, and thereafter increased rapidly in geographical spread to reach its long-term equilibrium abundance by about 1 million years after origin. Some theoretical implications of these results are discussed. PMID:15101584

  9. El Niño during the Last Interglacial Period recorded by a fossil coral from Indonesia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hughen, Konrad A.; Schrag, Daniel P.; Jacobsen, Stein B.; Hantoro, Wahyoe

    Measurements of oxygen isotopes and elemental ratios in a fossil coral that grew 124,000 years ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, reflect interannual variability in precipitation and sea surface temperature (SST) due to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This indicates that ENSO was robust during the last interglacial period, a time when global climate was slightly warmer than the present. The pattern of ENSO frequency behavior in the past is similar to variability in modern instrumental records, but distinct from the most recent period since the mid-1970s, supporting the hypothesis that ENSO behavior in recent decades is anomalous with respect to natural variability.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2007-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Belanger, Christina L

    2012-01-01

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

  12. 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

  13. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Bland-Hawthorn; Freeman

    2000-01-07

    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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

    2016-04-05

    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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Boyce, C. Kevin; Zwieniecki, Maciej A.

    2012-01-01

    Declining CO2 over the Cretaceous has been suggested as an evolutionary driver of the high leaf vein densities (7–28 mm mm−2) that are unique to the angiosperms throughout all of Earth history. Photosynthetic modeling indicated the link between high vein density and productivity documented in the modern low-CO2 regime would be lost as CO2 concentrations increased but also implied that plants with very low vein densities (less than 3 mm mm−2) should experience substantial disadvantages with high CO2. Thus, the hypothesized relationship between CO2 and plant evolution can be tested through analysis of the concurrent histories of alternative lineages, because an extrinsic driver like atmospheric CO2 should affect all plants and not just the flowering plants. No such relationship is seen. Regardless of CO2 concentrations, low vein densities are equally common among nonangiosperms throughout history and common enough to include forest canopies and not just obligate shade species that will always be of limited productivity. Modeling results can be reconciled with the fossil record if maximum assimilation rates of nonflowering plants are capped well below those of flowering plants, capturing biochemical and physiological differences that would be consistent with extant plants but previously unrecognized in the fossil record. Although previous photosynthetic modeling suggested that productivity would double or triple with each Phanerozoic transition from low to high CO2, productivity changes are likely to have been limited before a substantial increase accompanying the evolution of flowering plants. PMID:22689947

  18. 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.

  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. 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.

  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. End of the Proterozoic eon.

    PubMed

    Knoll, A H

    1991-10-01

    Living organisms have inhabited the surface of our planet for nearly four billion years. Yet the plants and animals that define our everyday existence have far more recent origins. The ancestors of modern trees and terrestrial animals first colonized land only about 450 million years ago. In the oceans, animals have a longer record, but macroscopic invertebrates did not appear even there until about 580 million years ago--roughly 85 percent of the way through life's history. The earliest animals, which are collectively referred to as the Ediacaran fauna (after the Ediacara Hills in southern Australia), have intrigued paleontologists since their discovery more than 50 years ago [see "The Emergence of Animals," by Mark A. S. McMenamin; Scientific American, April 1987]. The surprisingly young age of the fossils presents a most interesting puzzle. If life is so ancient, why did animals appear so late in the evolutionary day? Why--once the basic blueprint of life was drawn--did animals not emerge for more than three billion years? Alternatively, is the fossil record misleading? Is it possible that animals are far older than the record suggests?

  3. PROTEROZOIC EUCARYOTES FROM EASTERN CALIFORNIA*

    PubMed Central

    Cloud, P. E.; Licari, G. R.; Wright, L. A.; Troxel, B. W.

    1969-01-01

    Both procaryotic and eucaryotic nannofossils occur in chert from the upper Beck Spring Dolomite (Pahrump Group) in northeastern San Bernardino County, California. These fossils include the oldest reasonably certain records to date of chlorophycean and chrysophycean algae, and hence of the eucaryotic or mitosing cell. Associated with these are cyanophycean procaryotes of still more ancient affinities. Indirect radiometric evidence implies an age of 1.2 to 1.4 aeons (1.2 to 1.4 × 109 years) for the enclosing rocks. Associated stromatolites are consistent with such an age assignment. Images PMID:16591732

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

    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 (13C/12C 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-09-01

    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 (13C/12C 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.

  8. 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.

  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. 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

    2014-03-28

    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.

  11. Fossil Horses

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    MacFadden, Bruce J.

    1994-06-01

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

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

  17. The Terrestrial Fossil Organic Matter Record of Global Carbon Cycling: A Late Paleozoic through Early Mesozoic Perspective

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Montanez, I. P.

    2006-12-01

    The carbon isotope composition of terrestrial fossil organic matter (δ13Corg) has been widely used as a proxy of global carbon cycling and to reconstruct perturbations to the ocean-atmosphere carbon budget. The degree to which terrestrial δ13Corg records local to regional environmental conditions versus the evolution of the global carbon cycle has been highly debated. The high-resolution (104 to 106 m.y.) terrestrial δ13Corg record presented here defines a long-term trend through the latest Devonian to Late Triassic that reveals significant and systematic variations that track independently inferred changes in climate, paleo-atmospheric pCO2, and major restructuring in paleotropical flora. This newly derived record is based on 350 carbon isotope analyses of compressed and permineralized plants, cuticle, charcoal and coal (including vitrinite and fusinite) collected from paleo-wetland mudstones and claystones, claystone-filled abandoned fluvial channels, floodplain mudstones, and ephemeral lacustrine deposits at paleo-tropical to paleo-temperate latitudes. Morphologic and geochemical analysis of contemporaneous paleosols and fluvial-alluvial deposits allow for correlation of terrestrial δ13Corg values to reconstructed paleo-environmental conditions. Terrestrial δ13Corg values of contemporaneous fossil organic matter exhibit systematic inter- and intra-basinal variation of up to 2‰ associated with differences in paleo-precipitation and burial history, and geomorphic position within depositional basins and paleo-fluvial systems. Variation in δ13Corg by organic matter type is minimal to less than 1.5‰; specifically, charcoal δ13Corg values overlap to are slightly less negative than those of thermally less mature organic components analyzed. Overall, variation within contemporaneous populations is significantly less than defined by the long-term terrestrial δ13Corg record. Moreover, paleo-floral pi/pa ratios, an established proxy of water-use efficiency of

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. Biotic immigration events, speciation, and the accumulation of biodiversity in the fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stigall, Alycia L.; Bauer, Jennifer E.; Lam, Adriane R.; Wright, David F.

    2017-01-01

    Biotic Immigration Events (BIMEs) record the large-scale dispersal of taxa from one biogeographic area to another and have significantly impacted biodiversity throughout geologic time. BIMEs associated with biodiversity increases have been linked to ecologic and evolutionary processes including niche partitioning, species packing, and higher speciation rates. Yet substantial biodiversity decline has also been documented following BIMEs due to elevated extinction and/or reduced speciation rates. In this review, we develop a conceptual model for biodiversity accumulation that links BIMEs and geographic isolation with local (α) diversity, regional (β) diversity, and global (γ) diversity metrics. Within the model, BIME intervals are characterized by colonization of existing species within new geographic regions and a lack of successful speciation events. Thus, there is no change in γ-diversity, and α-diversity increases at the cost of β-diversity. An interval of regional isolation follows in which lineage splitting results in successful speciation events and diversity increases across all three metrics. Alternation of these two regimes can result in substantial biodiversity accumulation. We tested this conceptual model using a series of case studies from the paleontological record. We primarily focus on two intervals during the Middle through Late Ordovician Period (470-458 Ma): the globally pervasive BIMEs during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE) and a regional BIME, the Richmondian Invasion. We further test the conceptual model by examining the Great Devonian Interchange, Neogene mollusk migrations and diversification, and the Great American Biotic Interchange. Paleontological data accord well with model predictions. Constraining the mechanisms of biodiversity accumulation provides context for conservation biology. Because α-, β-, and γ-diversity are semi-independent, different techniques should be considered for sustaining various

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-08-18

    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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Kano, Yasunori; Chiba, Satoshi; Kase, Tomoki

    2002-01-01

    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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Arsenic stress after the Proterozoic glaciations

    PubMed Central

    Chi Fru, Ernest; Arvestål, Emma; Callac, Nolwenn; El Albani, Abderrazak; Kilias, Stephanos; Argyraki, Ariadne; Jakobsson, Martin

    2015-01-01

    Protection against arsenic damage in organisms positioned deep in the tree of life points to early evolutionary sensitization. Here, marine sedimentary records reveal a Proterozoic arsenic concentration patterned to glacial-interglacial ages. The low glacial and high interglacial sedimentary arsenic concentrations, suggest deteriorating habitable marine conditions may have coincided with atmospheric oxygen decline after ~2.1 billion years ago. A similar intensification of near continental margin sedimentary arsenic levels after the Cryogenian glaciations is also associated with amplified continental weathering. However, interpreted atmospheric oxygen increase at this time, suggests that the marine biosphere had widely adapted to the reorganization of global marine elemental cycles by glaciations. Such a glacially induced biogeochemical bridge would have produced physiologically robust communities that enabled increased oxygenation of the ocean-atmosphere system and the radiation of the complex Ediacaran-Cambrian life. PMID:26635187

  11. Arsenic stress after the Proterozoic glaciations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chi Fru, Ernest; Arvestål, Emma; Callac, Nolwenn; El Albani, Abderrazak; Kilias, Stephanos; Argyraki, Ariadne; Jakobsson, Martin

    2015-12-01

    Protection against arsenic damage in organisms positioned deep in the tree of life points to early evolutionary sensitization. Here, marine sedimentary records reveal a Proterozoic arsenic concentration patterned to glacial-interglacial ages. The low glacial and high interglacial sedimentary arsenic concentrations, suggest deteriorating habitable marine conditions may have coincided with atmospheric oxygen decline after ~2.1 billion years ago. A similar intensification of near continental margin sedimentary arsenic levels after the Cryogenian glaciations is also associated with amplified continental weathering. However, interpreted atmospheric oxygen increase at this time, suggests that the marine biosphere had widely adapted to the reorganization of global marine elemental cycles by glaciations. Such a glacially induced biogeochemical bridge would have produced physiologically robust communities that enabled increased oxygenation of the ocean-atmosphere system and the radiation of the complex Ediacaran-Cambrian life.

  12. Arsenic stress after the Proterozoic glaciations.

    PubMed

    Fru, Ernest Chi; Arvestål, Emma; Callac, Nolwenn; El Albani, Abderrazak; Kilias, Stephanos; Argyraki, Ariadne; Jakobsson, Martin

    2015-12-04

    Protection against arsenic damage in organisms positioned deep in the tree of life points to early evolutionary sensitization. Here, marine sedimentary records reveal a Proterozoic arsenic concentration patterned to glacial-interglacial ages. The low glacial and high interglacial sedimentary arsenic concentrations, suggest deteriorating habitable marine conditions may have coincided with atmospheric oxygen decline after ~2.1 billion years ago. A similar intensification of near continental margin sedimentary arsenic levels after the Cryogenian glaciations is also associated with amplified continental weathering. However, interpreted atmospheric oxygen increase at this time, suggests that the marine biosphere had widely adapted to the reorganization of global marine elemental cycles by glaciations. Such a glacially induced biogeochemical bridge would have produced physiologically robust communities that enabled increased oxygenation of the ocean-atmosphere system and the radiation of the complex Ediacaran-Cambrian life.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-12-01

    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.

  14. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Popov, Yuri A; Chłond, Dominik

    2015-11-06

    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.

  16. The Vendian (Ediacaran) in the geological record: Enigmas in geology's prelude to the Cambrian explosion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McCall, G. J. H.

    2006-07-01

    Up to the 1950s, the Precambrian was regarded as unrewardingly unfossiliferous, records of fossils being isolated, few in number and dubious. The change came with the discovery by Reg Sprigg of body fossils in latest Proterozoic sediments in South Australia. Although there had been descriptions of isolated fossils (now recognised as Ediacaran) from rocks of this age in the nineteenth century and at the start of the twentieth century, in Newfoundland and Namibia, respectively, the Ediacara finds stimulated researches and now, at the start of the twenty-first century, diversified fossil assemblages are known, all over the world, from the period 600-543 Ma, known formerly as the Vendian and now officially as the Ediacaran. In this account, a brief description of the history of these finds is given, followed by descriptions of the most important provinces [South Australia, Leicestershire, Namibia, Russia (Podolia, the White Sea Coast, Urals and Siberia), Newfoundland (Avalon Peninsula) and Northwest Canada]: then of 27 other known occurrences of this dominantly soft-bodied and perplexing fauna(?)-it seems certain that some, at least of the fossils, are animal fossils, although some, even the greater part, could be a unique form of life, not animals or plants ("Vendobionta"). These descriptions, derived in the course of a literature search lasting over a year, are followed by discussions of important special aspects: trace fossils; geochronology and correlation; geotectonics; glaciation (the "Snowball Earth" concept applied to the Varangian/Laplandian/Marinoan glaciation, which ushered in this last subdivision of the Proterozoic); the evidence for Ediacaran and other life forms existing in the Proterozoic prior to its last, Ediacaran, chronological subdivison; the Vendozoa concept. The last section consists of short summary of conclusions. This text essentially constitutes an objective record of what has been published to 2005 on the Ediacaran System.

  17. Limited role for methane in the mid-Proterozoic greenhouse.

    PubMed

    Olson, Stephanie L; Reinhard, Christopher T; Lyons, Timothy W

    2016-10-11

    Pervasive anoxia in the subsurface ocean during the Proterozoic may have allowed large fluxes of biogenic CH4 to the atmosphere, enhancing the climatic significance of CH4 early in Earth's history. Indeed, the assumption of elevated pCH4 during the Proterozoic underlies most models for both anomalous climatic stasis during the mid-Proterozoic and extreme climate perturbation during the Neoproterozoic; however, the geologic record cannot directly constrain atmospheric CH4 levels and attendant radiative forcing. Here, we revisit the role of CH4 in Earth's climate system during Proterozoic time. We use an Earth system model to quantify CH4 fluxes from the marine biosphere and to examine the capacity of biogenic CH4 to compensate for the faint young Sun during the "boring billion" years before the emergence of metazoan life. Our calculations demonstrate that anaerobic oxidation of CH4 coupled to SO4(2-) reduction is a highly effective obstacle to CH4 accumulation in the atmosphere, possibly limiting atmospheric pCH4 to less than 10 ppm by volume for the second half of Earth history regardless of atmospheric pO2 If recent pO2 constraints from Cr isotopes are correct, we predict that reduced UV shielding by O3 should further limit pCH4 to very low levels similar to those seen today. Thus, our model results likely limit the potential climate warming by CH4 for the majority of Earth history-possibly reviving the faint young Sun paradox during Proterozoic time and challenging existing models for the initiation of low-latitude glaciation that depend on the oxidative collapse of a steady-state CH4 greenhouse.

  18. Limited role for methane in the mid-Proterozoic greenhouse

    PubMed Central

    Olson, Stephanie L.; Reinhard, Christopher T.; Lyons, Timothy W.

    2016-01-01

    Pervasive anoxia in the subsurface ocean during the Proterozoic may have allowed large fluxes of biogenic CH4 to the atmosphere, enhancing the climatic significance of CH4 early in Earth’s history. Indeed, the assumption of elevated pCH4 during the Proterozoic underlies most models for both anomalous climatic stasis during the mid-Proterozoic and extreme climate perturbation during the Neoproterozoic; however, the geologic record cannot directly constrain atmospheric CH4 levels and attendant radiative forcing. Here, we revisit the role of CH4 in Earth’s climate system during Proterozoic time. We use an Earth system model to quantify CH4 fluxes from the marine biosphere and to examine the capacity of biogenic CH4 to compensate for the faint young Sun during the “boring billion” years before the emergence of metazoan life. Our calculations demonstrate that anaerobic oxidation of CH4 coupled to SO42− reduction is a highly effective obstacle to CH4 accumulation in the atmosphere, possibly limiting atmospheric pCH4 to less than 10 ppm by volume for the second half of Earth history regardless of atmospheric pO2. If recent pO2 constraints from Cr isotopes are correct, we predict that reduced UV shielding by O3 should further limit pCH4 to very low levels similar to those seen today. Thus, our model results likely limit the potential climate warming by CH4 for the majority of Earth history—possibly reviving the faint young Sun paradox during Proterozoic time and challenging existing models for the initiation of low-latitude glaciation that depend on the oxidative collapse of a steady-state CH4 greenhouse. PMID:27671638

  19. Limited role for methane in the mid-Proterozoic greenhouse

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Olson, Stephanie L.; Reinhard, Christopher T.; Lyons, Timothy W.

    2016-10-01

    Pervasive anoxia in the subsurface ocean during the Proterozoic may have allowed large fluxes of biogenic CH4 to the atmosphere, enhancing the climatic significance of CH4 early in Earth’s history. Indeed, the assumption of elevated pCH4 during the Proterozoic underlies most models for both anomalous climatic stasis during the mid-Proterozoic and extreme climate perturbation during the Neoproterozoic; however, the geologic record cannot directly constrain atmospheric CH4 levels and attendant radiative forcing. Here, we revisit the role of CH4 in Earth’s climate system during Proterozoic time. We use an Earth system model to quantify CH4 fluxes from the marine biosphere and to examine the capacity of biogenic CH4 to compensate for the faint young Sun during the “boring billion” years before the emergence of metazoan life. Our calculations demonstrate that anaerobic oxidation of CH4 coupled to SO42- reduction is a highly effective obstacle to CH4 accumulation in the atmosphere, possibly limiting atmospheric pCH4 to less than 10 ppm by volume for the second half of Earth history regardless of atmospheric pO2. If recent pO2 constraints from Cr isotopes are correct, we predict that reduced UV shielding by O3 should further limit pCH4 to very low levels similar to those seen today. Thus, our model results likely limit the potential climate warming by CH4 for the majority of Earth history—possibly reviving the faint young Sun paradox during Proterozoic time and challenging existing models for the initiation of low-latitude glaciation that depend on the oxidative collapse of a steady-state CH4 greenhouse.

  20. †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

  1. High-Resolution pCO2 Record for the Cenomanian-Turonian OAE2 based on Fossil Plant Cuticle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barclay, R. S.; Sageman, B. B.; McElwain, J. C.

    2008-12-01

    The Cenomanian-Turonian oceanic anoxic event 2 (OAE2) represents a major perturbation to the ocean- atmosphere-terrestrial system that lasted at least 600 ka. Marine extinction associated with OAE2 is thought to have occurred due to global marine anoxia, and increased primary production is the likely driver. However, the causal factors leading to increased production have remained poorly resolved. Recent research indicates that a pulse of submarine volcanism occurred in association with OAE2, and it has been suggested that this event led to overturn of the stratified ocean, possibly bringing P-rich deep waters to the surface. 208/204Pbinitial ratios taken from the Bonarelli horizon suggest that CO2 expelled by the volcanic event may have come from the Caribbean LIP. This is supported by a rapid negative shift in both 186/187Os and 87/86Sr isotopes just prior to OAE2, suggesting a marine source for the CO2 pulse. Some prior studies suggested that OAE2 resulted in a major drawdown of high ambient pCO2 levels. Only recently has a volcanic-sourced CO2 pulse been suggested for the event and its implications have yet to be fully explored. Two previous studies attempted to reconstruct pCO2 levels through OAE2 using geochemical proxy methods. Both studies show a decline in pCO2 at the onset of the δ13C excursion, but with decreases ranging from 140 to at least 400ppmV. Since neither study extended analyses to the interval preceding onset of the δ13C excursion it is difficult to assess the longer term trend. In addition, marine-based proxy methods contain large uncertainties that may be avoided in a non-marine proxy of pCO2, such as the stomatal frequency record of fossil plant cuticles. The stomatal based paleo-CO2 proxy relies on a genetically controlled inverse relationship between pCO2 and stomatal frequency in terrestrial plant leaves. Abundant plant cuticle is preserved in the paralic sections of the Dakota SS in SW Utah, which has been correlated to the Cenomanian

  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. Bridging Two Worlds: From the Archean to the Proterozoic

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Schopf, J. William

    2000-01-01

    As now known, the Archean and Proterozoic appear to have been different worlds: the geology (tectonic style, basinal distribution, dominant rock types), atmospheric composition (O2, CO21, CH4), and surface environment (day-length, solar luminosity, ambient temperature) all appear to have changed over time. And virtually all paleobiologic indicators can be interpreted as suggesting there were significant biotic differences as well: (1) Stromatolites older than 2.5 Ga are rare relative to those of the Proterozoic; their biotic components are largely unknown; and the biogenicity of those older than approx. 3.2 Ga has been questioned. (2) Bona fide microfossils older than approx. 2.4 Ga are rare, poorly preserved, and of uncertain biological relations. Gaps of hundreds of millions of years in the known record make it impossible to show that Archean microorganisms are definitely part of the 2.4 Ga-to-present evolutionary continuum. and (3) In rocks older than approx. 2.2 Ga, the sulfur isotopic record is subject to controversy; phylogenetically distinctive bio-markers are unknown; and nearly a score of geologic units contain organic carbon anomalously light isotopically (relative to that of the Proterozoic and Phanerozoic) that may reflect the presence of Archaeans ("Archaebacteria of earlier classifications) but may not (since cellularly preserved Archean-age Archaeans have never been identified).

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. Integrated chronostratigraphy of Proterozoic-Cambrian boundary beds in the western Anabar region, northern Siberia

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaufman, A. J.; Knoll, A. H.; Semikhatov, M. A.; Grotzinger, J. P.; Jacobsen, S. B.; Adams, W.

    1996-01-01

    Carbonate-rich sedimentary rocks of the western Anabar region, northern Siberia, preserve an exceptional record of evolutionary and biogeochemical events near the Proterozoic/Cambrian boundary. Sedimentologically, the boundary succession can be divided into three sequences representing successive episodes of late transgressive to early highstand deposition; four parasequences are recognized in the sequence corresponding lithostratigraphically to the Manykal Formation. Small shelly fossils are abundant and include many taxa that also occur in standard sections of southeastern Siberia. Despite this coincidence of faunal elements, biostratigraphic correlations between the two regions have been controversial because numerous species that first appear at or immediately above the basal Tommotian boundary in southeastern sections have first appearances scattered through more than thirty metres of section in the western Anabar. Carbon- and Sr-isotopic data on petrographically and geochemically screened samples collected at one- to two-metre intervals in a section along the Kotuikan River, favour correlation of the Staraya Reckha Formation and most of the overlying Manykai Formation with sub-Tommotian carbonates in southeastern Siberia. In contrast, isotopic data suggest that the uppermost Manykai Formation and the basal 26 m of the unconformably overlying Medvezhya Formation may have no equivalent in the southeast; they appear to provide a sedimentary and palaeontological record of an evolutionarily significant time interval represented in southeastern Siberia only by the sub-Tommotian unconformity. Correlations with radiometrically dated horizons in the Olenek and Kharaulakh regions of northern Siberia suggest that this interval lasted approximately three to six million years, during which essentially all 'basal Tommotian' small shelly fossils evolved.

  7. 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

  8. Characterization of fossil organic matter with Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy: an attempt to record extraterrestrial life .

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guido, A.; Mastandrea, A.; Tosti, F.; Demasi, F.; Blanco, A.; D'Elia, M.; Orofino, V.; Fonti, S.; Russo, F.

    The characterization of the insoluble macromolecular fraction of organic matter preserved in carbonate sediments allows the identification of fossil organisms otherwise not recognizable. This approach represents a new tool for the detection of extraterrestrial traces of life even in their primitive form, one of the primary goals of exobiological studies on Mars. Considering the deep connection between carbonate sediments and biological activities on Earth, we checked if it was possible to characterize the organic matter remains dispersed within these rocks, with Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The experiment was performed on ancient and well preserved carbonates, belonging to the Calcare di Base Formation outcropping in Northern Calabria (Rossano Basin). The origin of these Miocene deposits is problematic, due to the absence of skeletal fossils. The results demonstrate that FTIR is a reliable method for the characterization of the organic matter preserved in carbonates, and generally in all types of sedimentary rocks.

  9. Vascularization of the Selaginella rhizophore: anatomical fingerprints of polar auxin transport with implications for the deep fossil record.

    PubMed

    Matsunaga, Kelly K S; Cullen, Nevin P; Tomescu, Alexandru M F

    2017-02-22

    The Selaginella rhizophore is a unique and enigmatic organ whose homology with roots, shoots, or neither of the two remains unresolved. Nevertheless, rhizophore-like organs have been documented in several fossil lycophytes. Here we test the homology of these organs through comparisons with the architecture of rhizophore vascularization in Selaginella. We document rhizophore vascularization in nine Selaginella species using cleared whole-mounts and histological sectioning combined with three-dimensional reconstruction. Three patterns of rhizophore vascularization are present in Selaginella and each is comparable to those observed in rhizophore-like organs of fossil lycophytes. More compellingly, we found that all Selaginella species sampled exhibit tracheids that arc backward from the stem and side branch into the rhizophore base. This tracheid curvature is consistent with acropetal auxin transport previously documented in the rhizophore and is indicative of the redirection of basipetal auxin from the shoot into the rhizophore during development. The tracheid curvature observed in Selaginella rhizophores provides an anatomical fingerprint for the patterns of auxin flow that underpin rhizophore development. Similar tracheid geometry may be present and should be searched for in fossils to address rhizophore homology and the conservation of auxin-related developmental mechanisms from early stages of lycophyte evolution.

  10. Primary endosymbiosis events date to the later Proterozoic with cross-calibrated phylogenetic dating of duplicated ATPase proteins.

    PubMed

    Shih, Patrick M; Matzke, Nicholas J

    2013-07-23

    Chloroplasts and mitochondria descended from bacterial ancestors, but the dating of these primary endosymbiosis events remains very uncertain, despite their importance for our understanding of the evolution of both bacteria and eukaryotes. All phylogenetic dating in the Proterozoic and before is difficult: Significant debates surround potential fossil calibration points based on the interpretation of the Precambrian microbial fossil record, and strict molecular clock methods cannot be expected to yield accurate dates over such vast timescales because of strong heterogeneity in rates. Even with more sophisticated relaxed-clock analyses, nodes that are distant from fossil calibrations will have a very high uncertainty in dating. However, endosymbiosis events and gene duplications provide some additional information that has never been exploited in dating; namely, that certain nodes on a gene tree must represent the same events, and thus must have the same or very similar dates, even if the exact date is uncertain. We devised techniques to exploit this information: cross-calibration, in which node date calibrations are reused across a phylogeny, and cross-bracing, in which node date calibrations are formally linked in a hierarchical Bayesian model. We apply these methods to proteins with ancient duplications that have remained associated and originated from plastid and mitochondrial endosymbionts: the α and β subunits of ATP synthase and its relatives, and the elongation factor thermo unstable. The methods yield reductions in dating uncertainty of 14-26% while only using date calibrations derived from phylogenetically unambiguous Phanerozoic fossils of multicellular plants and animals. Our results suggest that primary plastid endosymbiosis occurred ∼900 Mya and mitochondrial endosymbiosis occurred ∼1,200 Mya.

  11. "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)

  12. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Srivastava, Gaurav; Mehrotra, Rakesh C.

    2013-01-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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,…

  16. 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…

  17. Sporulation and ultrastructure in a late Proterozoic cyanophyte - Some implications for taxonomy and plant phylogeny

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cloud, P.; Moorman, M.; Pierce, D.

    1975-01-01

    Electron microscopical studies of a morphologically diverse, coccoid, presumably late Proterozoic blue-green alga are here reported. They show, together with light microscopy, that the form studied is widespread in the Cordilleran geosyncline, extend the record of well-defined endosporangia perhaps 700 million years into the past, and reveal previously unrecorded ultrastructural details. Coming from northeastern Utah, southwestern Alberta, and east central Alaska, these minute fossils belong to the recently described, morphologically diverse taxon Sphaerocongregus variabilis Moorman, are related to living entophysalidaceans, and have affinities with both the chroococcalean and chamaesiphonalean cyanophytes. Included in the morphological modes displayed by this alga are individual unicells, coenobial clusters of unicells, and a range of endosporangia comparable to those described for living entophysalidaceans. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy reveal that the endospores are commonly embedded in a vesicular matrix, that some of them show what appears to be a bilaminate or perhaps locally multilaminate wall structure, and that some remain together to mature as coenobial clones or 'colonies'. Taxonomic classification and phylogeny are discussed.

  18. Microbenthic distribution of Proterozoic tidal flats: environmental and taphonomic considerations

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kah, L. C.; Knoll, A. H.

    1996-01-01

    Silicified carbonates of the late Mesoproterozoic to early Neoproterozoic Society Cliffs Formation, Baffin Island, contain distinctive microfabrics and microbenthic assemblages whose paleo-environmental distribution within the formation parallels the distribution of these elements through Proterozoic time. In the Society Cliffs Formation, restricted carbonates--including microdigitate stromatolites, laminated tufa, and tufted microbial mats--consist predominantly of synsedimentary cements; these facies and the cyanobacterial fossils they contain are common in Paleoproterozoic successions but rare in Neoproterozoic and younger rocks. Less restricted tidal-flat facies in the formation are composed of laminated microbialites dominated by micritic carbonate lithified early, yet demonstrably after compaction; these strata contain cyanobacteria that are characteristic in Neoproterozoic rocks. Within the formation, the facies-dependent distribution of microbial populations reflects both the style and timing of carbonate deposition because of the strong substrate specificity of benthic cyanobacteria. A reasonable conclusion is that secular changes in microbenthic assemblages through Proterozoic time reflect a decrease in the overall representation of rapidly lithified carbonate substrates in younger peritidal environments, as well as concomitant changes in the taphonomic window of silicification through which early life is observed.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2005-10-01

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

  20. Parasites in the fossil record: a Cretaceous fauna with isopod-infested decapod crustaceans, infestation patterns through time, and a new ichnotaxon.

    PubMed

    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).

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Whitehouse, Nicki J.; Smith, David

    2010-02-01

    The reconstruction and structure of the European Holocene "wildwood" has been the focus of considerable academic debate. The ability of palaeoecological data and particularly pollen analysis to accurately reflect the density of wildwood canopy has also been widely discussed. Fossil insects, as a proxy for vegetation and landscape structure, provide a potential approach to address this argument. Here, we present a review and re-analysis of 36 early and mid-Holocene (9500-2000 cal BC) sub-fossil beetle assemblages from Britain, examining percentage values of tree, open ground and dung beetles as well as tree host data to gain an insight into vegetation structure, the role of grazing animals in driving such structure and establish independently the importance of different types of trees and associated shading in the early Holocene "wildwood". Open indicator beetle species are persistently present over the entire review period, although they fluctuate in importance. During the early Holocene (9500-6000 cal BC), these indicators are initially high, at levels which are not dissimilar to modern data from pasture woodland. However, during the latter stages of this and the next period, 6000-4000 cal BC, open ground and pasture indicators decline and are generally low compared with previously. Alongside this pattern, we see woodland indicators generally increase in importance, although there are significant local fluctuations. Levels of dung beetles are mostly low over these periods, with some exceptions to this pattern, especially towards the end of the Mesolithic and in floodplain areas. Host data associated with the fossil beetles indicate that trees associated with lighter canopy conditions such as oak, pine, hazel and birch are indeed important components of the tree canopy during the earlier Holocene (c. 9500-6000 cal BC), in accordance with much of the current pollen literature. Beetles associated with more shade-tolerant trees (such as lime and elm) become more

  5. 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.

  6. The Effect Of microbial Mats In The Decay Of Anurans With Implications For Understanding Taphonomic Processes In The Fossil Record

    PubMed Central

    Iniesto, M.; Villalba, I.; Buscalioni, A. D.; Guerrero, M. C.; López-Archilla, A. I.

    2017-01-01

    The pattern and sequence of the decomposition of the Pipidae African dwarf frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri) is tracked in an experiment with microbial mats in order to explore soft tissue preservation over three years. Frog decay in microbial mats is preceded by rapid entombment (25–30 days) and mediated by the formation of a sarcophagus, which is built by a complex microbial community. The frog carcasses maintained a variety of soft tissues for years. Labile organic structures show greater durability within the mat, cells maintain their general shape (bone marrow cells and adipocytes), and muscles and connective tissues (adipose and fibrous tendons) exhibit their original organic structures. In addition, other soft tissues are promptly mineralized (day 540) in a Ca-rich carbonate phase (encephalic tectum) or enriched in sulphur residues (integumentary system). The result is coherent with a bias in soft-tissue preservation, as some tissues are more likely to be conserved than others. The outcomes support observations of exceptionally preserved fossil anurans (adults and tadpoles). Decomposition in mats shows singular conditions of pH and dissolved oxygen. Mineralization processes could be more diverse than in simple heterotrophic biofilms, opening new taphonomic processes that have yet to be explored. PMID:28338095

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Distribution and diagenesis of microfossils from the lower Proterozoic Duck Creek Dolomite, Western Australia

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, A. H.; Strother, P. K.; Rossi, S.

    1988-01-01

    Two distinct generations of microfossils occur in silicified carbonates from a previously undescribed locality of the Lower Proterozoic Duck Creek Dolomite, Western Australia. The earlier generation occurs in discrete organic-rich clasts and clots characterized by microquartz anhedra; it contains a variety of filamentous and coccoidal fossils in varying states of preservation. Second generation microfossils consist almost exclusively of well-preserved Gunflintia minuta filaments that drape clasts or appear to float in clear chalcedony. These filaments appear to represent an ecologically distinct assemblage that colonized a substrate containing the partially degraded remains of the first generation community. The two assemblages differ significantly in taxonomic frequency distribution from previously described Duck Creek florules. Taken together, Duck Creek microfossils exhibit a range of assemblage variability comparable to that found in other Lower Proterozoic iron formations and ferruginous carbonates. With increasing severity of post-mortem alteration, Duck Creek microfossils appear to converge morphologically on assemblages of simple microstructures described from early Archean cherts. Two new species are described: Oscillatoriopsis majuscula and O. cuboides; the former is among the largest septate filamentous fossils described from any Proterozoic formation.

  10. Pellet microfossils: Possible evidence for metazoan life in Early Proterozoic time.

    PubMed

    Robbins, E I; Porter, K G; Haberyan, K A

    1985-09-01

    Microfossils resembling fecal pellets occur in acid-resistant residues and thin sections of Middle Cambrian to Early Proterozoic shale. The cylindrical microfossils average 50 x 110 mum and are the size and shape of fecal pellets produced by microscopic animals today. Pellets occur in dark gray and black rocks that were deposited in the facies that also preserves sulfide minerals and that represent environments analogous to those that preserve fecal pellets today. Rocks containing pellets and algal microfossils range in age from 0.53 to 1.9 gigayears (Gyr) and include Burgess Shale, Greyson and Newland Formations, Rove Formation, and Gunflint Iron-Formation. Similar rock types of Archean age, ranging from 2.68 to 3.8 Gyr, were barren of pellets. If the Proterozoic microfossils are fossilized fecal pellets, they provide evidence of metazoan life and a complex food chain at 1.9 Gyr ago. This occurrence predates macroscopic metazoan body fossils in the Ediacaran System at 0.67 Gyr, animal trace fossils from 0.9 to 1.3 Gyr, and fossils of unicellular eukaryotic plankton at 1.4 Gyr.

  11. 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…

  12. 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…

  13. 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.

  14. Latest Proterozoic to early Cambrian sedimentary-tectonic evolution of a passive margin sequence, northeastern Washington

    SciTech Connect

    Lindsey, K.A.; Gaylord, D.R.

    1987-08-01

    The late Proterozoic to Early Cambrian Three Sisters formation, Addy Quartzite, and Gypsy Quartzite lie near the base of the Cordilleran miogeocline in northeastern Washington. Detailed stratigraphic and sedimentary examination of these units extends understanding of the evolution of western North America. These units were deposited on a newly rifted passive margin and record the final stages of late Proterozoic rifting and the early stages of subsequent early Paleozoic subsidence and transgression. The three Sisters formation, Addy Quartzite, and Gypsy Quartzite are correlative with the Brigham Group in southeastern Idaho and Utah, the Gold Creek Quartzite in northern Idaho, and the Flathead Quartzite in Montana and Wyoming.

  15. 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

  16. Proterozoic low orbital obliquity and axial-dipolar geomagnetic field from evaporite palaeolatitudes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Evans, David A. D.

    2006-11-01

    Palaeomagnetism of climatically sensitive sedimentary rock types, such as glacial deposits and evaporites, can test the uniformitarianism of ancient geomagnetic fields and palaeoclimate zones. Proterozoic glacial deposits laid down in near-equatorial palaeomagnetic latitudes can be explained by `snowball Earth' episodes, high orbital obliquity or markedly non-uniformitarian geomagnetic fields. Here I present a global palaeomagnetic compilation of the Earth's entire basin-scale evaporite record. Magnetic inclinations are consistent with low orbital obliquity and a geocentric-axial-dipole magnetic field for most of the past two billion years, and the snowball Earth hypothesis accordingly remains the most viable model for low-latitude Proterozoic ice ages. Efforts to reconstruct Proterozoic supercontinents are strengthened by this demonstration of a consistently axial and dipolar geomagnetic reference frame, which itself implies stability of geodynamo processes on billion-year timescales.

  17. Proterozoic low orbital obliquity and axial-dipolar geomagnetic field from evaporite palaeolatitudes.

    PubMed

    Evans, David A D

    2006-11-02

    Palaeomagnetism of climatically sensitive sedimentary rock types, such as glacial deposits and evaporites, can test the uniformitarianism of ancient geomagnetic fields and palaeoclimate zones. Proterozoic glacial deposits laid down in near-equatorial palaeomagnetic latitudes can be explained by 'snowball Earth' episodes, high orbital obliquity or markedly non-uniformitarian geomagnetic fields. Here I present a global palaeomagnetic compilation of the Earth's entire basin-scale evaporite record. Magnetic inclinations are consistent with low orbital obliquity and a geocentric-axial-dipole magnetic field for most of the past two billion years, and the snowball Earth hypothesis accordingly remains the most viable model for low-latitude Proterozoic ice ages. Efforts to reconstruct Proterozoic supercontinents are strengthened by this demonstration of a consistently axial and dipolar geomagnetic reference frame, which itself implies stability of geodynamo processes on billion-year timescales.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Horacek, Ivan; Lozek, Vojen

    2010-05-01

    The information provided by modern instrumental approaches (molecular phylogeography, ancient DNA analyses, large scale radiocarbon datings etc.) refined the knowledge on Late Quaternary faunal development and range history of particular taxa in essential way. Nevertheless, the direct fossil record remains still an essential substrate in study of that topics, and to reveal all the information, that it may provide, and integrate it with the outputs of the other approaches presents one of the essential aim of the present meeting. Unfortunately, the immediate use of fossil record for the paleoecologic and paleobiogeographic inferences is often limited by its fragmentarity (both in temporal and spatial respects), taphonomic influences and/or locally specific post-sedimentary effects which all may bias it in a considerable degree. Hence, each particular record is to be carefully reexamined in respect to all factor which may bias it - unfortunately, often it is not too easy to respond that task, particularly when the record is retrived from secondary sources. It should also be remembered that the records representing narrow time slices without a robust lithostratigraphic context do not provide any information on the historical and contextual setting of the respective faunal situation. Such information that is essential for reconstructions of paleobiogeography of community development and similar locally-sensitive phenomena can only be retrived from the continuous sedimentary series which establish the sequence of particular faunal events by direct superposition. A sufficiently dense network of such series provides than a possibility of direct inter-regional comparisons and a high resolution information on the paleobiogeography of the Late Pleistocene-Holocene rearrangements of mammalian communities, local variation in history of particular species and its community context. We illustrate productivity of such approach on with aid of the fossil record obtained from

  1. Fossil fuel and wood combustion as recorded by carbon particles in Lake Erie sediments 1850-1998.

    PubMed

    Kralovec, Andrew C; Christensen, Erik R; Van Camp, Ryan P

    2002-04-01

    Carbon particle analysis was performed on a dated sediment core from Lake Erie in order to explore the inputs of pollution from incomplete combustion of coal, oil, and wood. Carbon particles were isolated from the sediment by chemical digestion, and elemental carbon content was determined by CHN analysis. The type of carbon particle (from burning coal, oil, and wood) and particle size and relative abundance were determined using scanning electron microscopy on 100 particles from each core section. The elemental carbon content in the Lake Erie core ranges from 2.5 to 7.4 mg of carbon/g of sediment (1850-1998), and the maximum carbon content in the sediment occurs in the late 1960s to early 1970s. It is shown that particle mass is a better predictor than particle number of historical energy consumption records. This is especially clear for wood where variable particle volumes play a significant role in determining the record of elemental carbon mass from wood burning. Lake Erie core's content of total carbon and carbon particle type is in agreement with U.S. energy consumption records, except that a wood maximum occurs during 1905-1917, about 36 yr after the U.S. consumption maximum from 1870 to 1880.

  2. Influence of hydro-sedimentary factors on mollusc death assemblages in a temperate mixed tide-and-wave dominated coastal environment: Implications for the fossil record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Poirier, Clément; Sauriau, Pierre-Guy; Chaumillon, Eric; Bertin, Xavier

    2010-10-01

    Mollusc death assemblages were recovered in 98 subtidal sampling stations on the seafloor of the shallow Pertuis Charentais Sea (Atlantic coast of France). Taxonomic composition and spatial distribution of death assemblages were investigated, as well as their response to sediment grain size (field data), bottom shear stress (coupled tide and wave hydrodynamic modelling), and sediment budget (bathymetric difference map). Results showed that molluscs are likely to be reliable paleoenvironmental indicators since death assemblages were able to acquire ecological changes within years (decadal-scale taphonomic inertia), and live-dead agreement inferred from existing data on living benthic communities was high, except close to river mouths and intertidal mudflats that provide terrestrial and intertidal species to subtidal death assemblages, respectively. Taxonomic composition of these within-habitat death assemblages strongly depended on sediment grain size and bottom shear stress, similarly to living subtidal communities. Post-mortem dispersal of shells, owing to relatively low bottom shear stress in the area, was only of a few 10s to 100s of meters, which shows that death assemblages preserved environmental gradients even at a fine spatial scale. Sediment budget had also a significant influence on death assemblages. Thick-shelled epifaunal species were correlated with erosion areas on one side, and thin-shelled infaunal species with deposition on the other, showing that mollusc fossil assemblages could be used as indicators of paleo-sedimentation rate. This new proxy was successfully tested on a previously published Holocene mollusc fossil record from the same area. It was possible to refine the paleoenvironmental interpretation already proposed, in accordance with existing stratigraphic and sedimentological data.

  3. 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.

  4. The Nd and Sr isotopic evolution of Proterozoic seawater

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Derry, Louis A.; Jacobsen, Stein B.

    1988-04-01

    Nd isotope measurements on banded iron formations and phosphorites, and Sr isotope measurements on carbonates, indicate that during both the Early and Late Proterozoic, hydrothermal input to the oceans was a significant fraction of the total input to ocean chemistry. Isotopic data from Early Proterozoic clastic sediments show systematic differences from coeval chemical sediments. These differences become less marked toward the end of the Proterozoic. This implies a higher hydrothermal water to river water flux ratio during the Early Proterozoic. The significant changes in seawater isotopic composition during the Proterozoic reflect the transition from mantle dominated Archean oceans to a typically modern system.

  5. Proterozoic geology and ore deposits of Arizona

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Karlstrom, Karl E.

    1991-01-01

    Proterozoic rocks in Arizona have been the focus of interest for geologists since the late 1800's. Early investigations, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, focused on the extensive ore deposits hosted by Proterozoic rocks. By the 1960's, these studies, combined with theses from academic institutions and the efforts of the Arizona Geological Survey, had produced a rich data base of geologic maps, primarily of the central part of the Transition Zone. The chronological significance of these maps became much better known with the application of U-Pb geochronology by L.Y. Silver and his students starting in the 1960's. The 1970's and early 1980's were marked by numerous contributions from Masters and Ph.D students at a variety of academic institutions, and continued work by the U.S. Geological Survey. Interest in ore deposits persisted and there was an increasing interest in interpretation of the tectonic history of Proterozoic rocks in terms of plate tectonic models, as summarized in papers by Phillip Anderson, Ed DeWitt, Clay Conway, Paul Lindberg, and J.L Anderson in the 1989 Arizona Geological Society Digest 17: "Geologic Evolution of Arizona". The present volume: "Proterozoic Geology and Ore deposits of Arizona" builds upon A.G.S. Digest 17, and presents the results of geologic investigations from the latter part of the 1980's. A number of the papers are condensed versions of MS theses done by students at Northern Arizona University. These papers are based upon 1:10,000 mapping and structural analysis of several areas in Arizona. The geologic maps from each of these studies are available separately as part of the Arizona Geological Survey Contributed Map Series. These detailed maps, plus the continuing mapping efforts of the U.S.G.S. and students at other academic institutions, form an ever improving data base for continuing attempts to understand the Proterozoic geology and ore deposits of Arizona

  6. An expansion of age constraints for microbial clades that lack a conventional fossil record using phylogenomic dating.

    PubMed

    Blank, Carrine E

    2011-10-01

    Most microbial taxa lack a conventional microfossil or biomarker record, and so we currently have little information regarding how old most microbial clades and their associated traits are. Building on the previously published oxygen age constraint, two new age constraints are proposed based on the ability of microbial clades to metabolize chitin and aromatic compounds derived from lignin. Using the archaeal domain of life as a test case, phylogenetic analyses, along with published metabolic and genetic data, showed that members of the Halobacteriales and Thermococcales are able to metabolize chitin. Ancestral state reconstruction combined with phylogenetic analysis of the genes underlying chitin degradation predicted that the ancestors of these two groups were also likely able to metabolize chitin or chitin-related compounds. These two clades were therefore assigned a maximum age of 1.0 Ga (when chitin likely first appeared). Similar analyses also predicted that the ancestor to the Sulfolobus solfataricus-Sulfolobus islandicus clade was able to metabolize phenol using catechol dioxygenase, so this clade was assigned a maximum age of 475 Ma. Inferred ages of archaeal clades using relaxed molecular clocks with the new age constraints were consistent with those inferred with the oxygen age constraints. This work expands our current toolkit to include Paleoproterozoic, Neoproterozoic, and Paleozoic age constraints, and should aid in our ability to phylogenetically reconstruct the antiquity of a wide array of microbial clades and their associated morphological and biogeochemical traits, spanning deep geologic time. Such hypotheses-although built upon evolutionary inferences-are fundamentally testable.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. Regulation of atmospheric oxygen during the Proterozoic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Laakso, Thomas A.; Schrag, Daniel P.

    2014-02-01

    Many studies suggest that oxygen has remained near modern levels throughout the Phanerozoic, but was much less abundant from the “Great Oxygenation Event” around 2.4 Ga until the late Neoproterozoic around 600 Ma (Kump, 2008). Using a simple model, we show that the maintenance of atmospheric pO2 at ∼1% of present atmospheric levels (PAL) is inconsistent with modern biogeochemical cycling of carbon, sulfur and iron unless new feedbacks are included. Low oxygen conditions are stable in our model if the flux of phosphorus to the oceans was greatly reduced during the Proterozoic. We propose a mechanism to reduce this flux through the scavenging of phosphate ions with an “iron trap” driven by greater surface mobility of ferrous iron in a low pO2 world. Incorporating this feedback leads to two stable equilibria for atmospheric oxygen, the first quantitative hypothesis to explain both Proterozoic and Phanerozoic O2 concentrations.

  10. First record of Microscapha LeConte from Baltic amber with description of a new species and list of fossil Melandryidae (Coleoptera: Tenebrionoidea).

    PubMed

    Bukejs, Andris; Alekseev, Vitalii I

    2015-09-03

    Microscapha andrzeji sp. nov., the first fossil representative of the genus is described from Eocene Baltic amber. An updated list of fossil Melandryidae (Coleoptera: Tenebrionoidea) is provided. The presence of Microscapha within Baltic amber suggests some potential for palaeoenvironmental inferences based on the melandryid assemblage within the deposit.

  11. Paleobiology of distinctive benthic microfossils from the upper Proterozoic Limestone-Dolomite "Series," central East Greenland

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Green, J. W.; Knoll, A. H.; Golubic, S.; Swett, K.

    1987-01-01

    Populations of Polybessurus bipartitus Fairchild ex Green et al., a large morphologically distinctive microfossil, occur in silicified carbonates of the Upper Proterozoic (700-800 Ma) Limestone-Dolomite "Series," central East Greenland. Large populations of well-preserved individuals permit reconstruction of P. bipartitus as a coccoidal unicell that "jetted" upward from the sediment by the highly unidirectional secretion of extracellular mucopolysaccharide envelopes. Reproduction by baeocyte formation is inferred on the basis of clustered envelope stalks produced by small cells. Sedimentological evidence indicates that P. bipartitus formed surficial crusts locally within a shallow peritidal carbonate platform. Among living microorganisms a close morphological, reproductive, and behavioral counterpart to Polybessurus is provided by populations of an as yet underscribed cyanobacterium found in coastal Bahamian environments similar to those in which the Proterozoic fossils occur. In general morphology and "jetting" behavior, this population resembles species of the genus Cyanostylon, Geitler (1925), but reproduces via baeocyte formation. Polybessurus is but one of the more than two dozen taxa in the richly fossiliferous biota of the Limestone-Dolomite "Series." This distinctive population, along with co-occurring filamentous cyanobacteria and other microfossils, contributes to an increasingly refined picture of ecological heterogeneity in late Proterozoic oceans.

  12. A Laughing Gas Greenhouse for the Proterozoic?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roberson, A. L.; Roadt, J.; Halevy, I.; Kasting, J. F.

    2010-12-01

    An anoxic, sulfidic ‘Canfield ocean’ during the Proterozoic (0.75-2.3 Ga) would have had limited trace metal abundances because of the low solubility of metal sulfides. The limitation on copper, specifically, would have had a significant impact on marine denitrification. Copper is needed for the enzyme that controls the final step of denitrification, from N2O to N2. Today, only about 5-6 percent of denitrification results in release of N2O. If all denitrification stopped at N2O during the Proterozoic, the N2O flux could have been 15-20 times higher than today. Other parts of the nitrogen cycle should have been able to operate at rates comparable to today, as catalysts for these reactions should have existed. The high N2O flux should have created higher atmospheric N2O concentrations; although this effect may have been offset by faster rates of N2O photolysis if O2 concentrations were lower than today. N2O concentrations of 0.3 to 30 ppmv, along with methane levels of 30-100 ppm, could have kept the surface warm during the Proterozoic without necessitating high CO2 levels. The high methane concentrations were a consequence of lack of dissolved O2 and sulfate in the deep ocean, which should have led to a high CH4 flux from marine sediments. A second oxygenation event at the end of the Proterozoic would have resulted in a shift to a more modern ocean and, consequently, more modern concentrations of atmospheric N2O and CH4.

  13. Growth-Dependent Calibration of Coral Sr/Ca-SST From Multiple Colonies Provides Potential for Long SST Records from Fossil Corals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Goodkin, N. F.

    2005-12-01

    Extended reconstructions of sea surface temperature (SST) are critical to examining long-term climate variability not captured in instrumental records. Coral skeleton, which continuously accretes in annual density bands, preserves unique, multi-century archives of sub-annual resolution SST. Despite the promise of coral proxies, however, SSTs derived from corals are often several degrees cooler than those derived from other archives. Here we present strontium to calcium ratios (Sr/Ca) for four brain corals (Diploria labyrinthiformis) collected from the south shore of Bermuda that are strongly correlated with both instrumental SST (Hydrostation S, 30km southeast) and annual skeletal extension rate. High Sr/Ca ratios correspond with cold SSTs and slow skeletal growth rate, and vice versa. Over a ~25 year calibration period, the four corals have distinct average growth rates (2.57, 2.68, 3.55 and 4.03 mm/yr). For each colony, we provide a quantitative calibration of annual Sr/Ca to annual extension rate and annual SST along the axis of maximum growth and derive an individual growth dependent Sr/Ca-SST calibration equation: Sr/Ca = m*(SST) + n*(annual growth rate)*(SST) + b The slopes and intercepts of the four equations are found to be linearly related to the average growth-rate during the calibration periods of each colony, and a final multi-variant regression is performed to establish one final Sr/Ca-Growth Rate-SST calibration, in the form: Sr/Ca = m*(SST) + n*(annual growth rate)*(SST) + o*(average colony growth rate)*(SST) + b This growth-dependent calibration is shown to be applicable to a fossil coral of the same species in order to reconstruct SSTs at Bermuda for 223 years. A reconstruction excluding the influence of growth yields SSTs that exaggerate both cool and warm periods. SST anomalies near the end of the Little Ice Age (~1850) that are derived using a non-growth dependent calibration are exaggerated by a factor of two relative to those from a growth

  14. Perspectives on Proterozoic surface ocean redox from iodine contents in ancient and recent carbonate

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hardisty, Dalton S.; Lu, Zunli; Bekker, Andrey; Diamond, Charles W.; Gill, Benjamin C.; Jiang, Ganqing; Kah, Linda C.; Knoll, Andrew H.; Loyd, Sean J.; Osburn, Magdalena R.; Planavsky, Noah J.; Wang, Chunjiang; Zhou, Xiaoli; Lyons, Timothy W.

    2017-04-01

    The Proterozoic Eon hosted the emergence and initial recorded diversification of eukaryotes. Oxygen levels in the shallow marine settings critical to these events were lower than today's, although how much lower is debated. Here, we use concentrations of iodate (the oxidized iodine species) in shallow-marine limestones and dolostones to generate the first comprehensive record of Proterozoic near-surface marine redox conditions. The iodine proxy is sensitive to both local oxygen availability and the relative proximity to anoxic waters. To assess the validity of our approach, Neogene-Quaternary carbonates are used to demonstrate that diagenesis most often decreases and is unlikely to increase carbonate-iodine contents. Despite the potential for diagenetic loss, maximum Proterozoic carbonate iodine levels are elevated relative to those of the Archean, particularly during the Lomagundi and Shuram carbon isotope excursions of the Paleo- and Neoproterozoic, respectively. For the Shuram anomaly, comparisons to Neogene-Quaternary carbonates suggest that diagenesis is not responsible for the observed iodine trends. The baseline low iodine levels in Proterozoic carbonates, relative to the Phanerozoic, are linked to a shallow oxic-anoxic interface. Oxygen concentrations in surface waters would have at least intermittently been above the threshold required to support eukaryotes. However, the diagnostically low iodine data from mid-Proterozoic shallow-water carbonates, relative to those of the bracketing time intervals, are consistent with a dynamic chemocline and anoxic waters that would have episodically mixed upward and laterally into the shallow oceans. This redox instability may have challenged early eukaryotic diversification and expansion, creating an evolutionary landscape unfavorable for the emergence of animals.

  15. Crustal thickening during Proterozoic metamorphism and deformation in New Mexico

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grambling, Jeffrey A.

    1986-02-01

    Proterozoic rocks in northern and central New Mexico underwent simultaneous metamorphism and deformation, tentatively dated at 1410 Ma. Structural relationships record a minimum of 20% 30% shortening during the latter part of deformation, and chemical zoning in garnet and plagioclase indicates a 20% increase in depth of burial during the same interval. Locally, deformation thickened the upper continental crust by at least 20%. This crustal thickening was distributed over a broad area and caused rocks across 75 000 km2 to recrystallize at peak metamorphic conditions near 525 °C and 4 kbar. The metamorphic terrane cooled isobarically, at rates less than 5 °C/m.y. Such slow cooling may be normal at middle crustal depths. Preservation of the regionally uniform peak metamorphic conditions reflects an unusual tectonic history: heat from the metamorphic event outlasted deformation, and the terrane was not subjected to rapid uplift following its thermal peak.

  16. 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…

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Terminal Proterozoic reorganization of biogeochemical cycles.

    PubMed

    Logan, G A; Hayes, J M; Hieshima, G B; Summons, R E

    1995-07-06

    The Proterozoic aeon (2,500-540 million years ago) saw episodic increases in atmospheric oxygen content, the evolution of multicellular life and, at its close, an enormous radiation of animal diversity. These profound biological and environmental changes must have been linked, but the underlying mechanisms have been obscure. Here we show that hydrocarbons extracted from Proterozoic sediments in several locations worldwide are derived mainly from bacteria or other heterotrophs rather than from photosynthetic organisms. Biodegradation of algal products in sedimenting matter was therefore unusually complete, indicating that organic material was extensively reworked as it sank slowly through the water column. We propose that a significant proportion of this reworking will have been mediated by sulphate-reducing bacteria, forming sulphide. The production of sulphide and consumption of oxygen near the ocean surface will have inhibited transport of O2 to the deep ocean. We find that preservation of algal-lipid skeletons improves at the beginning of the Cambrian, reflecting the increase in transport by rapidly sinking faecal pellets. We suggest that this rapid removal of organic matter will have increased oxygenation of surface waters, leading to a descent of the O2-sulphide interface to the sea floor and to marked changes in the marine environment, ultimately contributing to the Cambrian radiation.

  1. Terminal Proterozoic reorganization of biogeochemical cycles

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Logan, G. A.; Hayes, J. M.; Hieshima, G. B.; Summons, R. E.

    1995-01-01

    The Proterozoic aeon (2,500-540 million years ago) saw episodic increases in atmospheric oxygen content, the evolution of multicellular life and, at its close, an enormous radiation of animal diversity. These profound biological and environmental changes must have been linked, but the underlying mechanisms have been obscure. Here we show that hydrocarbons extracted from Proterozoic sediments in several locations worldwide are derived mainly from bacteria or other heterotrophs rather than from photosynthetic organisms. Biodegradation of algal products in sedimenting matter was therefore unusually complete, indicating that organic material was extensively reworked as it sank slowly through the water column. We propose that a significant proportion of this reworking will have been mediated by sulphate-reducing bacteria, forming sulphide. The production of sulphide and consumption of oxygen near the ocean surface will have inhibited transport of O2 to the deep ocean. We find that preservation of algal-lipid skeletons improves at the beginning of the Cambrian, reflecting the increase in transport by rapidly sinking faecal pellets. We suggest that this rapid removal of organic matter will have increased oxygenation of surface waters, leading to a descent of the O2-sulphide interface to the sea floor and to marked changes in the marine environment, ultimately contributing to the Cambrian radiation.

  2. 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

  3. The largest fossil rodent.

    PubMed

    Rinderknecht, Andrés; Blanco, R Ernesto

    2008-04-22

    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 1000kg 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 (4-2Myr ago), and the proposed palaeoenvironment where this rodent lived was characterized as an estuarine or deltaic system with forest communities.

  4. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Scott, Jeremiah E; Lockwood, Charles A

    2004-12-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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)

  8. Absolute age constraints on the age and tectonics of the Middle and Late Proterozoic Pahrump Group, southern Death Valley, California

    SciTech Connect

    Calzia, J.P. ); Troxel, B.W.

    1993-04-01

    The Pahrump Group unconformably overlies 1.35 Ga granite, is unconformably overlain by the Late Proterozoic Noonday Dolomite, and is divided into the Crystal Spring Formation, the Beck Spring Dolomite, and the Kingston Peak Formation. Contacts between these formations are gradational through several meters of interbedded clastic and carbonate rocks. Lithologic data, sedimentary structures, and fossil assemblages suggest that the Pahrump Group, from middle Crystal Spring to lower Kingston Peak time, was deposited in an intratidal to supratidal environment. Diamictite, volcanic ash, and mono lithologic megabreccia suggest that the middle and the upper members of the Kingston Peak Formation were deposited in a higher energy sedimentary and tectonic environment. Dikes and sills of 1.08 Ga diabase intrude the gneiss and all members of the Crystal Spring Formation; erosional clasts of diabase first appear in the middle Kingston Peak Formation. The diabase sills are up to 450 m thick and have caused at least 20 percent inflation of the Crystal Spring, Beck Spring, and lower Kingston Peak formations. If these sedimentary rocks were deposited at or above wave base, evidence of intraplate rifting or gross stratigraphic inflation is not recorded in the Pahrump stratigraphy until middle and upper Kingston Peak time. Therefore, the stratigraphic and petrologic data suggest that the diabase was emplaced in the Crystal Spring Formation during post-lower but pre-middle Kingston Peak time. The Beck Spring Dolomite and the lower Kingston Peak Formation are older than 1.08 Ga; the contact between the lower and the middle Kingston Peak Formation is a regional disconformity that marks significant changes in the depositional and the tectonic environments of the Pahrump Group at about 1.08 Ga.

  9. 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.

  10. Organically preserved microbial endoliths from the late Proterozoic of East Greenland

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, A. H.; Golubic, S.; Green, J.; Swett, K.

    1986-01-01

    Diverse microorganisms ranging from cyanobacteria to eukaryotic algae and fungi live endolithically within ooids, hardgrounds and invertebrate shells on the present-day sea floor. These organisms are involved in the mechanical destruction of carbonates, and are useful ecological indicators of water depth and pollution. The Phanerozoic history of microbial endoliths has been elucidated through the study of microborings (the trace fossils of endolithic microorganisms) and rare cellularly preserved individuals, but nothing was known of the possible Precambrian evolution of comparable microorganisms until Campbell documented the occurrence of microborings in late Proterozoic ooids from central East Greenland. We now report the discovery of large populations of organically preserved endolithic microorganisms in silicified pisolites from 700-800-Myr-old Limestone-Dolomite Series of East Greenland. This fossil assemblage is significant for three reasons: (1) It confirms the prediction that oolites, pisolites and hardgrounds--the substrates for pre-Phanerozoic endoliths--provide a hitherto poorly explored but rewarding set of environments into which the search for early microfossils must be broadened; (2) the assemblage is diverse, containing about 12 taxa of morphologically distinct and previously unknown endolithic cyanobacteria, plus associated epilithic and interstitial populations; and (3) at least six of the fossil populations are indistinguishable in morphology, pattern of development, reproductive biology and inferred ecology from distinctive cyanobacterial species that bore ooids today in the Bahama Banks.

  11. Fractal branching organizations of Ediacaran rangeomorph fronds reveal a lost Proterozoic body plan

    PubMed Central

    Hoyal Cuthill, Jennifer F.; Conway Morris, Simon

    2014-01-01

    The branching morphology of Ediacaran rangeomorph fronds has no exact counterpart in other complex macroorganisms. As such, these fossils pose major questions as to growth patterns, functional morphology, modes of feeding, and adaptive optimality. Here, using parametric Lindenmayer systems, a formal model of rangeomorph morphologies reveals a fractal body plan characterized by self-similar, axial, apical, alternate branching. Consequent morphological reconstruction for 11 taxa demonstrates an adaptive radiation based on 3D space-filling strategies. The fractal body plan of rangeomorphs is shown to maximize surface area, consistent with diffusive nutrient uptake from the water column (osmotrophy). The enigmas of rangeomorph morphology, evolution, and extinction are resolved by the realization that they were adaptively optimized for unique ecological and geochemical conditions in the late Proterozoic. Changes in ocean conditions associated with the Cambrian explosion sealed their fate. PMID:25114255

  12. Reconstructing Earth's Surface Oxidation Across The Archean- Proterozoic Transition

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kaufman, A. J.; Guo, Q.; Strauss, H.; Schröder, S.; Gutzmer, J.; Wing, B. A.; Baker, M.; Bekker, A.; Jin, Q.; Kim, S.; Farquhar, J.

    2010-12-01

    The Archean-Proterozoic transition is characterized by the widespread deposition of organic-rich shale, sedimentary iron formation, glacial diamictite, and marine carbonates recording profound carbon isotope anomalies, but notably lacks bedded evaporites. All deposits reflect environmental changes in oceanic and atmospheric redox states, in part associated with Earth’s earliest ice ages. Time-series data for multiple sulfur isotopes from carbonate associated sulfate as well as sulfides in the glaciogenic Duitschland Formation of the Transvaal Supergroup, South Africa, capture the concomitant buildup of sulfate in the ocean and the loss of mass independent sulfur isotope fractionation. This is arguably associated with the atmospheric rise of oxygen (as well as the protective ozone layer) coincident with profound changes in ocean chemistry and biology. The loss of the MIF signal within the Duitschland succession is in phase with the earliest recorded positive carbon isotope anomaly, convincingly linking these environmental perturbations to the Great Oxidation Event (ca. 2.3 Ga). The emergence of cyanobacteria and oxygenic photosynthesis may be associated with a geochemical “whiff of oxygen” recorded in 2.5 Ga sediments. If true, the delay in the GOE can then be understood in terms of a finite sink for molecular oxygen - ferrous iron, which was abundant in deep Neoarchean seawater and sequestered in a worldwide episode of iron formation deposition ending shortly before accumulation of the Duitschland Formation. Insofar as early Paleoproterozoic glaciation is associated with oxygenation of a methane-rich atmosphere, we conclude that Earth’s earliest ice age(s) and the onset of a modern and far more energetic carbon cycle are directly related to the global expansion of cyanobacteria that released oxygen to the environment, and of eukaryotes that respired it.

  13. A global survey of Precambrian evaporites: Implications for Proterozoic paleoenvironments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Evans, D. A.

    2006-05-01

    Evaporites are sedimentary rocks comprising minerals that crystallized from supersaturation of surface waters due to solar-driven desiccation. They, or their metamorphic relics and pseudomorphs, are abundant in the geologic record and document changes in paleoclimate, sealevel, and marine chemistry. Phanerozoic evaporites have been well described and summarized, in no small part due to their role as hydrocarbon seals, as well as sources of salinity in hydrothermal fluids that concentrate metal deposits. Precambrian evaporites are abundant in discrete number of instances but are generally less voluminous; their long-term preservation is limited by subsurface mineral dissolution as well as tectonic crustal recycling. Unlike Precambrian glacial deposits, which have been globally catalogued several times during the past fifty years, Precambrian evaporites have been compiled only partially in a few rare studies. A new, global survey of Precambrian evaporites (mainly pseudomorphs after gypsum, anhydrite, and halite) documents over 100 examples, including ten of Archean age. About 20 deposits have total preserved or estimated salt volumes exceeding 1000 cubic km, and these are restricted to the Proterozoic Era. One of the most impressive episodes of evaporite deposition in the entire geologic record occurred at about 800 Ma, coincident with the onset of Rodinia supercontinental fragmentation. These evaporites are preserved primarily as calcium-sulfates, totalling about 350,000 cubic km in volume. The next major global peak in evaporite deposition occurred in late Ediacaran to Early Cambrian time, totalling more than 1.5 million cubic km of mixed sulfates and halites. These peaks rival the great salt records of the Late Devonian, Late Permian, and Late Jurassic, and the molar volumes of deposited salt are comparable to the current inventory of oceanic salinity. Questions for future consideration include: what does the removal of this much salinity from the oceans, in these

  14. SIMS and NanoSIMS analyses of Mesoproterozoic individual microfossils indicating continuous oxygen-producing photosynthesis in Proterozoic Ocean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Peng, X.; Guo, Z.; House, C. H.; Chen, S.; Ta, K.

    2015-12-01

    Well-preserved microfossils in the stromatolites from the Gaoyuzhuang Formation (~1500Ma), which is younger than the Gunflint Formation (~1880Ma) and older than the Bitter Springs Formation (~850Ma), may play key roles in systematizing information about the evolution of early life and environmental changes in the Proterozoic Ocean. Here, a combination of light microscopy (LM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), focused ion beam (FIB), nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) were employed to characterize the morphology, elemental distributions and carbon isotope values of individual microfossils in the stromatolites from the Gaoyuahzuang Formation. Light microscopy analyses show that abundant filamentous and coccoid microfossils are exceptionally well preserved in chert. NanoSIMS analyses show that metabolically important elements such as 12C-, 13C-, 12C14N-, 32S-, and 34S- are concentrated in these microfossils and that the variations in the concentrations of these elements are similar, establishing the elemental distributions in incontestably biogenic microstructures. Carbon isotope (δ13C) values of individual microfossils range from -32.2‰ ± 0.9‰ to -23.3‰ ± 1.0‰ (weighted mean= -28.9‰ ± 0.1‰), consistent with carbon fixation via the Calvin cycle. The elevated δ13C values of the microfossils from Early-, Meso- to Late Proterozoic Era, possibly indicate decreasing CO2 and increasing O2 concentrations in the Proterozoic atmosphere. Our results, for the first time, provided the element distributions and cell specific carbon isotope values on convincing Mesoproterozoic cyanobacterial fossils, supporting continuous oxygen-producing photosynthesis in the Proterozoic Ocean.

  15. 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

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

    PubMed Central

    Petrulevičius, Julián F.; Popov, Yuri A.

    2014-01-01

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

  17. 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.

  18. Evidences for multiple remagnetization of Proterozoic dykes from Iguerda inlier (Anti-Atlas Belt, Southern Morocco)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Neres, Marta; Silva, Pedro F.; Ikene, Moha; Martins, Sofia; Hafid, Ahmid; Mata, João; Almeida, Francisco; Youbi, Nasrrddine; Boumehdi, Ahmed

    2016-04-01

    Paleomagnetic data able to constrain the paleoposition of the West African Craton (WAC) during Paleo-Mesoproterozoic are absent, mainly due to gaps on the sedimentary record and intense remagnetizations. Dykes that intrude several Proterozoic inliers of WAC in the Anti-Atlas Belt (southern Morocco) have recently been subjected to geochronological studies, which revealed ages between Paleoproterozoic and early Neoproterozoic. Therefore, these dykes represent a window of opportunity for paleomagnetic studies aiming to infer about the paleoposition of WAC during Proterozoic. On this scope we conducted a paleomagnetic study on seven Proterozoic dykes of the Iguerda inlier. We determined the paleomagnetic directions and evaluated their meaning by rock magnetic and mineral analyses, complemented by petrographic observations. Results revealed that these rocks record the presence of a complex history of remagnetization events, mostly assigned to several Phanerozoic thermal/chemical events. In particular, we found components assigned to the late stages of Pan African orogeny (s.l.), to the Late Carboniferous Variscan orogeny, and to more recent events. The recognized remagnetization processes are related to widespread metamorphic events under greenschist facies followed by low-temperature oxidation, both responsible for the formation of new magnetic phases (magnetite and hematite). The primary (magmatic) thermo-remanent magnetization of the dykes was obliterated during these events through multiple thermal and chemical remagnetizations. For only one dyke the presence of primary magnetization is possible to infer, though not to confirm, and would place WAC at an equatorial position around 1750 Ma. The authors wish to acknowledge FCT (Portugal) - CNRST (Morocco) bilateral agreement for its major contribution without which this work wouldn't be possible. Publication supported by project FCT UID/GEO/50019/2013 - Instituto Dom Luiz.

  19. 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.

  20. Global Biogeochemical Changes at Both Ends of the Proterozoic: Insights from Phosphorites

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Papineau, Dominic

    2010-03-01

    The distribution of major phosphate deposits in the Precambrian sedimentary rock record is restricted to periods that witnessed global biogeochemical changes, but the cause of this distribution is unclear. The oldest known phosphogenic event occurred around 2.0 Ga and was followed, after more than 1.3 billion years, by an even larger phosphogenic event in the Neoproterozoic. Phosphorites (phosphate-rich sedimentary rocks that contain more than 15% P2O5) preserve a unique record of seawater chemistry, biological activity, and oceanographic changes. In an attempt to emphasize the potentially crucial significance of phosphorites in the evolution of Proterozoic biogeochemical cycles, this contribution provides a review of some important Paleoproterozoic phosphate deposits and of models proposed for their origin. A new model is then presented for the spatial and temporal modes of occurrence of phosphorites along with possible connections to global changes at both ends of the Proterozoic. Central to the new model is that periods of atmospheric oxygenation may have been caused by globally elevated rates of primary productivity stimulated by high fluxes of phosphorus delivery to seawater as a result of increased chemical weathering of continental crust over geological timescales. The striking similarities in biogeochemical evolution between the Paleo- and Neoproterozoic are discussed in light of the two oldest major phosphogenic events and their possible relation to the stepwise rise of atmospheric oxygen that ultimately resulted in significant leaps in biological evolution.

  1. Global biogeochemical changes at both ends of the proterozoic: insights from phosphorites.

    PubMed

    Papineau, Dominic

    2010-03-01

    The distribution of major phosphate deposits in the Precambrian sedimentary rock record is restricted to periods that witnessed global biogeochemical changes, but the cause of this distribution is unclear. The oldest known phosphogenic event occurred around 2.0 Ga and was followed, after more than 1.3 billion years, by an even larger phosphogenic event in the Neoproterozoic. Phosphorites (phosphate-rich sedimentary rocks that contain more than 15% P(2)O(5)) preserve a unique record of seawater chemistry, biological activity, and oceanographic changes. In an attempt to emphasize the potentially crucial significance of phosphorites in the evolution of Proterozoic biogeochemical cycles, this contribution provides a review of some important Paleoproterozoic phosphate deposits and of models proposed for their origin. A new model is then presented for the spatial and temporal modes of occurrence of phosphorites along with possible connections to global changes at both ends of the Proterozoic. Central to the new model is that periods of atmospheric oxygenation may have been caused by globally elevated rates of primary productivity stimulated by high fluxes of phosphorus delivery to seawater as a result of increased chemical weathering of continental crust over geological timescales. The striking similarities in biogeochemical evolution between the Paleo- and Neoproterozoic are discussed in light of the two oldest major phosphogenic events and their possible relation to the stepwise rise of atmospheric oxygen that ultimately resulted in significant leaps in biological evolution.

  2. 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

    2015-08-12

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Statistical analysis of iron geochemical data suggests limited late Proterozoic oxygenation.

    PubMed

    Sperling, Erik A; Wolock, Charles J; Morgan, Alex S; Gill, Benjamin C; Kunzmann, Marcus; Halverson, Galen P; Macdonald, Francis A; Knoll, Andrew H; Johnston, David T

    2015-07-23

    Sedimentary rocks deposited across the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transition record extreme climate fluctuations, a potential rise in atmospheric oxygen or re-organization of the seafloor redox landscape, and the initial diversification of animals. It is widely assumed that the inferred redox change facilitated the observed trends in biodiversity. Establishing this palaeoenvironmental context, however, requires that changes in marine redox structure be tracked by means of geochemical proxies and translated into estimates of atmospheric oxygen. Iron-based proxies are among the most effective tools for tracking the redox chemistry of ancient oceans. These proxies are inherently local, but have global implications when analysed collectively and statistically. Here we analyse about 4,700 iron-speciation measurements from shales 2,300 to 360 million years old. Our statistical analyses suggest that subsurface water masses in mid-Proterozoic oceans were predominantly anoxic and ferruginous (depleted in dissolved oxygen and iron-bearing), but with a tendency towards euxinia (sulfide-bearing) that is not observed in the Neoproterozoic era. Analyses further indicate that early animals did not experience appreciable benthic sulfide stress. Finally, unlike proxies based on redox-sensitive trace-metal abundances, iron geochemical data do not show a statistically significant change in oxygen content through the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, sharply constraining the magnitude of the end-Proterozoic oxygen increase. Indeed, this re-analysis of trace-metal data is consistent with oxygenation continuing well into the Palaeozoic era. Therefore, if changing redox conditions facilitated animal diversification, it did so through a limited rise in oxygen past critical functional and ecological thresholds, as is seen in modern oxygen minimum zone benthic animal communities.

  6. Statistical analysis of iron geochemical data suggests limited late Proterozoic oxygenation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sperling, Erik A.; Wolock, Charles J.; Morgan, Alex S.; Gill, Benjamin C.; Kunzmann, Marcus; Halverson, Galen P.; MacDonald, Francis A.; Knoll, Andrew H.; Johnston, David T.

    2015-07-01

    Sedimentary rocks deposited across the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transition record extreme climate fluctuations, a potential rise in atmospheric oxygen or re-organization of the seafloor redox landscape, and the initial diversification of animals. It is widely assumed that the inferred redox change facilitated the observed trends in biodiversity. Establishing this palaeoenvironmental context, however, requires that changes in marine redox structure be tracked by means of geochemical proxies and translated into estimates of atmospheric oxygen. Iron-based proxies are among the most effective tools for tracking the redox chemistry of ancient oceans. These proxies are inherently local, but have global implications when analysed collectively and statistically. Here we analyse about 4,700 iron-speciation measurements from shales 2,300 to 360 million years old. Our statistical analyses suggest that subsurface water masses in mid-Proterozoic oceans were predominantly anoxic and ferruginous (depleted in dissolved oxygen and iron-bearing), but with a tendency towards euxinia (sulfide-bearing) that is not observed in the Neoproterozoic era. Analyses further indicate that early animals did not experience appreciable benthic sulfide stress. Finally, unlike proxies based on redox-sensitive trace-metal abundances, iron geochemical data do not show a statistically significant change in oxygen content through the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, sharply constraining the magnitude of the end-Proterozoic oxygen increase. Indeed, this re-analysis of trace-metal data is consistent with oxygenation continuing well into the Palaeozoic era. Therefore, if changing redox conditions facilitated animal diversification, it did so through a limited rise in oxygen past critical functional and ecological thresholds, as is seen in modern oxygen minimum zone benthic animal communities.

  7. Early and middle(?) Cambrian metazoan and protistan fossils from West Africa

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Culver, S.J.; Repetski, J.E.; Pojeta, J.; Hunt, D.

    1996-01-01

    Supposed Upper Proterozoic strata in the southwest Taoudeni Basin, Guinea and Senegal, and from the Mauritanide fold belt, Mauritania, have yielded mostly poorly preserved small skeletal fossils of metazoan and protistan origin. Problematic, but possible echinoderm material and spicules of the heteractinid sponge Eiffelia dominate the Taoudeni Basin assemblage. The age of the material is not certain but the paleontologic data suggest an Early Cambrian age for the stratigraphically lowest faunas, and a Middle Cambrian age is possible for the stratigraphically highest collections.

  8. Modeling the Consequences of Proterozoic Oxygenation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bachan, A.; Kump, L. R.

    2013-12-01

    state iron removal is dominated by pyrite precipitation allowing for elevated phosphate regeneration. Furthermore, in the model, the weathering input of cations and phosphate accompanied by sulfate moderates the reduction in pCO2 that otherwise results from elevated organic carbon burial. Thus, a positive feedback arises where O2 production from organic carbon burial triggers additional sulfide oxidation which leads to further organic carbon burial. This process continues until the sulfide reservoir is depleted, after which δ13C values return to near zero and the model settles into a new steady state with a higher pO2. In total, our modeling supports the idea that the late Proterozoic carbon isotope anomaly can be understood as the manifestation of oxidizing power, triggered externally, and amplified internally, propagating through the earth system.

  9. Fossilized bioelectric wire - the trace fossil Trichichnus.

    PubMed

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

    2015-04-16

    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".

  10. Fossilized bioelectric wire - the trace fossil Trichichnus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2014-12-01

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

  11. Fossilized bioelectric wire - the trace fossil Trichichnus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-04-01

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

  12. Organic Geochemistry of the Hamersley Province: Relationships Among Organic Carbon Isotopes, Molecular Fossils, and Lithology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Eigenbrode, Jennifer L.

    2012-01-01

    Molecular fossils are particularly valuable ancient biosignatures that can provide key insight about microbial sources and ecology in early Earth studies. In particular, hopanes carrying 2-methyl or 3-methyl substituents are proposed to be derived from cyanobacteria and oxygen-respiring methanotrophs, respectively, based on both their modem occurrences and their Proterozoic and Phanerozoic sedimentary distributions. Steranes are likely from ancestral eukaryotes. The distribution of methylhopanes, steranes, and other biomarkers in 2.72-2.56 billion-year-old rocks from the Hamersley Province, Western Australia show relationships to lithology, facies, and isotopes of macromolecular carbon, and other biomarkers. These observations support biomarker syngenicity and thermal maturity. Moreover, ecological signatures are revealed, including a surprising relationship between isotopic values for bulk macromolecular carbon and the biomarker for methanotrophs. The record suggests that cyanobacteria were likely key organisms of shallow-water microbial ecosystems providing molecular oxygen, fixed carbon, and possibly fixed nitrogen, and methanotrophs were not alone in recycling methane and other C-13-depleted substrates.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-08-01

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

  16. Calibrating the Tree of Life: fossils, molecules and evolutionary timescales

    PubMed Central

    Forest, Félix

    2009-01-01

    Background Molecular dating has gained ever-increasing interest since the molecular clock hypothesis was proposed in the 1960s. Molecular dating provides detailed temporal frameworks for divergence events in phylogenetic trees, allowing diverse evolutionary questions to be addressed. The key aspect of the molecular clock hypothesis, namely that differences in DNA or protein sequence between two species are proportional to the time elapsed since they diverged, was soon shown to be untenable. Other approaches were proposed to take into account rate heterogeneity among lineages, but the calibration process, by which relative times are transformed into absolute ages, has received little attention until recently. New methods have now been proposed to resolve potential sources of error associated with the calibration of phylogenetic trees, particularly those involving use of the fossil record. Scope and Conclusions The use of the fossil record as a source of independent information in the calibration process is the main focus of this paper; other sources of calibration information are also discussed. Particularly error-prone aspects of fossil calibration are identified, such as fossil dating, the phylogenetic placement of the fossil and the incompleteness of the fossil record. Methods proposed to tackle one or more of these potential error sources are discussed (e.g. fossil cross-validation, prior distribution of calibration points and confidence intervals on the fossil record). In conclusion, the fossil record remains the most reliable source of information for the calibration of phylogenetic trees, although associated assumptions and potential bias must be taken into account. PMID:19666901

  17. Identification of immunoreactive material in mammoth fossils.

    PubMed

    Schweitzer, Mary; Hill, Christopher L; Asara, John M; Lane, William S; Pincus, Seth H

    2002-12-01

    The fossil record represents a history of life on this planet. Attempts to obtain molecular information from this record by analysis of nucleic acids found within fossils of extreme age have been unsuccessful or called into question. However, previous studies have demonstrated the long-term persistence of peptides within fossils and have used antibodies to extant proteins to demonstrate antigenic material. In this study we address two questions: Do immunogenic/antigenic materials persist in fossils? and; Can fossil material be used to raise antibodies that will cross-react with extant proteins? We have used material extracted from a well-preserved 100000-300000-year-old mammoth skull to produce antisera. The specificity of the antisera was tested by ELISA, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. It was demonstrated that antisera reacted specifically with the fossils and not the surrounding sediments. Reactivity of antisera with modern proteins and tissues was also demonstrated, as was the ability to detect evolutionary relationships via antibody-antigen interactions. Mass spectrometry demonstrated the presence of amino acids and specific peptides within the fossil. Peptides were purified by anion-exchange chromatography and sequenced by tandem mass spectrometry. The collagen-derived peptides may have been the source of at least some of the immunologic reactivity, but the antisera identified molecules that were not observed by mass spectrometry, indicating that immunologic methods may have greater sensitivity. Although the presence of peptides and amino acids was demonstrated, the exact nature of the antigenic material was not fully clarified. This report demonstrates that antibodies may be used to obtain information from the fossil record.

  18. 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…

  19. The Earliest Fossil Evidence for Life on Land and the Freshwater Origin of Algae?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Battison, L.; Brasier, M. D.; Antcliffe, J. B.

    2009-04-01

    lagerstatte. Delicate cellular structures, and even sub-cellular structures, can be preserved with high fidelity in the phosphate. These cells show evidence for life cycles that ranged from resting cysts - sometimes sculptured - to colonial vegetative stages and thence to single celled dispersal stages. Cyanobacteria, eukaryotic protists and algae are all present. The ecological structure and responses of these Torridon lake communities can be compared with those of modern, mainly acidiphilic, lakes. Together with sedimentary structures and wrinkle mats of demonstrably microbial origin, we can point to the variable development of seasonal eutrophication and stagnation in the photic zone of these ancient lakes. Population statistics of the various morphotypes reveal differences between the assemblages collected from older and younger units of the Torridon Group, attributable to differing lacustrine ecologies. Such exceptional preservation in the Proterozoic is part of an emerging picture of evolving taphonomic styles through time, in which better preservation of cells is found as we go further back into the fossil record. We attribute this remarkable preservation in the Proterozoic to very early diagenesis in a world before the evolution of a sediment Mixed Layer during the Cambrian explosion of the Metazoa. This evidence suggests that Earth's terrestrial biota and its associated phosphorus cycle were well established on land by ~1000 Ma ago. It also suggests that many algal groups, which today are obligate freshwater denizens, may have originated in freshwater lakes over a billion years ago.

  20. 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

  1. River Valley pluton, Ontario - A late-Archean/early-Proterozoic anorthositic intrusion in the Grenville Province

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ashwal, Lewis D.; Wooden, Joseph L.

    1989-01-01

    This paper presents Nd, Sr, and Pb isotopic data indicating a late-Archean/early-Proterozoic age for the River Valley anorthositic pluton of the southwestern Grenville Province of Sudbury, Ontario. Pb-Pb isotopic data on 10 whole-rock samples ranging in composition from anorthosite to gabbro yield an age of 2560 + or - 155 Ma. The River Valley pluton is thus the oldest anorthositic intrusive yet recognized within the Grenville Province. The Sm-Nd isotopic system records an age of 2377 + or - 68 Ma. High Pb-208/Pb-204 of deformed samples relative to igneous-textured rocks implies Th introduction and/or U loss during metamorphism in the River Valley area. Rb-Sr data from igneous-textured and deformed samples and from mineral separates give an age of 2185 + or - 105 Ma, indicating substantial disturbance of the Rb-Sr isotopic system.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Prokaryotic algae associated with Australian proterozoic stromatolites.

    PubMed

    Licari, G R; Cloud, P

    1972-09-01

    Five instances of association between distinctive stromatolites and blue-green algal nannofossils are recorded from a 100-m sequence of carbonate rocks about 1.6 x 10(9) years old, along the south side of Paradise Creek, northwestern Queensland, Australia. No eukaryotes were identified in any of these systematically limited assemblages, although they are known from rocks as old as 1.3 x 10(9) years in eastern California. Thus, eukaryotes may not have appeared until after 1.6 x 10(9) years ago (but before 1.3 x 10(9) years ago). The associations observed would also be consistent with (but do not prove) a biotic influence on stromatolite morphology. As is usual among prePaleozoic forms described, the morphology of the nannofossils is very similar to living forms, displaying marked evolutionary conservatism. Primary orientation of stromatolitic laminae and columns is not invariably convex upward, as conventionally believed, but convex away from and parallel to the initial point or surface of attachment, which may be horizontal or even downward beneath overhangs.

  6. Infrared Spectra of Fossils,

    DTIC Science & Technology

    fossil’s surface is accessible to the analyzing beams. The technique is potentially valuable for the examination of special samples of palaeontological and archaeological interest. Keywords include: Photothermal effect.

  7. Natural Product Molecular Fossils.

    PubMed

    Falk, Heinz; Wolkenstein, Klaus

    2017-01-01

    The natural products synthesized by organisms that were living a long time ago gave rise to their molecular fossils. These can consist of either the original unchanged compounds or they may undergo peripheral transformations in which their skeletons remain intact. In cases when molecular fossils can be traced to their organismic source, they are termed "geological biomarkers".This contribution describes apolar and polar molecular fossils and, in particular biomarkers, along the lines usually followed in organic chemistry textbooks, and points to their bioprecursors when available. Thus, the apolar compounds are divided in linear and branched alkanes followed by alicyclic compounds and aromatic and heterocyclic molecules, and, in particular, the geoporphyrins. The polar molecular fossils contain as functional groups or constituent units ethers, alcohols, phenols, carbonyl groups, flavonoids, quinones, and acids, or are polymers like kerogen, amber, melanin, proteins, or nucleic acids. The final sections discuss the methodology used and the fundamental processes encountered by the biomolecules described, including diagenesis, catagenesis, and metagenesis.

  8. Discovery of a new chert-permineralized microbiota in the Proterozoic Buxa Formation of the Ranjit window, Sikkim, northeast India, and its astrobiological implications.

    PubMed

    Schopf, J William; Tewari, Vinod C; Kudryavtsev, Anatoliy B

    2008-08-01

    For the foreseeable future, the search for evidence of past life in rocks acquired from other planets will be constrained by the amount of sample available and by the fidelity of preservation of any fossils present. What amount of rock is needed to establish the existence of past life? To address this question, we studied a minute amount of rock collected from cherty dolomites of the Proterozoic Buxa Formation in the metamorphically altered tectonically active northeastern Himalaya. In particular, we investigated 2 small petrographic thin sections-one from each of 2 bedded chert horizons exposed in the Ranjit River stratigraphic section northwest of Rishi, Sikkim, India-that together comprise an area of approximately 5 cm(2) (about the size of a US postage stamp) and have a total rock weight of approximately 0.1 g. Optical microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy and imagery demonstrate that each of the thin sections contains a rich assemblage of 3-dimensionally permineralized organic-walled microfossils. This study, the first report of Proterozoic microfossils in units of the Ranjit tectonic window, demonstrates that firm evidence of early life can be adduced from even a minuscule amount of fossil-bearing ancient rock.

  9. Tracing the stepwise oxygenation of the Proterozoic ocean.

    PubMed

    Scott, C; Lyons, T W; Bekker, A; Shen, Y; Poulton, S W; Chu, X; Anbar, A D

    2008-03-27

    Biogeochemical signatures preserved in ancient sedimentary rocks provide clues to the nature and timing of the oxygenation of the Earth's atmosphere. Geochemical data suggest that oxygenation proceeded in two broad steps near the beginning and end of the Proterozoic eon (2,500 to 542 million years ago). The oxidation state of the Proterozoic ocean between these two steps and the timing of deep-ocean oxygenation have important implications for the evolutionary course of life on Earth but remain poorly known. Here we present a new perspective on ocean oxygenation based on the authigenic accumulation of the redox-sensitive transition element molybdenum in sulphidic black shales. Accumulation of authigenic molybdenum from sea water is already seen in shales by 2,650 Myr ago; however, the small magnitudes of these enrichments reflect weak or transient sources of dissolved molybdenum before about 2,200 Myr ago, consistent with minimal oxidative weathering of the continents. Enrichments indicative of persistent and vigorous oxidative weathering appear in shales deposited at roughly 2,150 Myr ago, more than 200 million years after the initial rise in atmospheric oxygen. Subsequent expansion of sulphidic conditions after about 1,800 Myr ago (refs 8, 9) maintained a mid-Proterozoic molybdenum reservoir below 20 per cent of the modern inventory, which in turn may have acted as a nutrient feedback limiting the spatiotemporal distribution of euxinic (sulphidic) bottom waters and perhaps the evolutionary and ecological expansion of eukaryotic organisms. By 551 Myr ago, molybdenum contents reflect a greatly expanded oceanic reservoir due to oxygenation of the deep ocean and corresponding decrease in sulphidic conditions in the sediments and water column.

  10. Tectonics and metallogenesis of Proterozoic rocks of the Reading Prong

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gundersen, L.C.S.

    2004-01-01

    Detailed geologic mapping, petrography, and major and trace-element analyses of Proterozoic rocks from the Greenwood Lake Quadrangle, New York are compared with chemical analyses and stratigraphic information compiled for the entire Reading Prong. A persistent regional stratigraphy is evident in the mapped area whose geochemistry indicates protoliths consistent with a back-arc marginal basin sequence. The proposed marginal basin may have been floored by an older sialic basement and overlain by a basin-fill sequence consisting of a basal tholeiitic basalt, basic to intermediate volcanic or volcaniclastic rocks and carbonate sediments, a bimodal calc-alkaline volcanic sequence, and finally volcaniclastic, marine, and continental sediments. The presence of high-chlorine biotite and scapolite may indicate circulation of brine fluids or the presence of evaporite layers in the sequence. Abundant, stratabound magnetite deposits with a geologic setting very unlike that of cratonic, Proterozoic banded-iron formations are found throughout the proposed basin sequence. Associated with many of the magnetite deposits is unusual uranium and rare-earth element mineralization. It is proposed here that these deposits formed in an exhalative, volcanogenic, depositional environment within an extensional back-arc marginal basin. Such a tectonic setting is consistent with interpretations of protoliths in other portions of the Reading Prong, the Central Metasedimentary Belt of the Canadian Grenville Province, and recent interpretation of the origin of the Franklin lead-zinc deposits, suggesting a more cohesive evolving arc/back-arc tectonic model for the entire Proterozoic margin of the north-eastern portion of the North American craton. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  11. 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)

  12. Early Proterozoic ultrahigh pressure metamorphism: evidence from microdiamonds.

    PubMed

    Cartigny, Pierre; Chinn, Ingrid; Viljoen, K S; Robinson, Derek

    2004-05-07

    Microdiamonds from the Akluilâk minette dykes (Nunavut, Canada) are similar to diamonds formed in subducted metamorphic rocks. High concentrations of unaggregated nitrogen and positive delta(15)N suggest that the microdiamonds formed within rocks subducted to ultrahigh pressures before being sampled by the minette magma 1.8 billion years ago. This ultrahigh pressure metamorphism in North America, probably related to the Trans-Hudson orogen (about 2 billion years ago), extends the occurrence of ultrahigh pressure metamorphism from 0.6 billion years to before 1.8 billion years ago and suggests that Phanerozoic-type subductions were active by the Early Proterozoic.

  13. Chromium Isotopes in Carbonate Rocks: New Insights into Proterozoic Atmospheric Oxygenation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kah, L. C.; Gilleaudeau, G. J.; Frei, R.; Kaufman, A. J.; Azmy, K.; Bartley, J. K.; Chernyavskiy, P.; Knoll, A. H.

    2015-12-01

    There has been a long-standing debate in geobiology about the role that Earth's oxygenation played in the evolution of complex life. Temporal linkages exist between the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) and the evolution of eukaryotes, as well as Neoproterozoic rise in oxygen and the diversification of metazoans. Further advances have been hampered, however, by the lack of direct proxies that mark specific levels of atmospheric pO2 in the geologic past. Chromium (Cr) isotopes show promise in this regard because the oxidation of Cr during terrestrial weathering—which results in isotopic fractionation—is dependent on a specific threshold of atmospheric pO2 (0.1-1% of the present atmospheric level [PAL]). This threshold value broadly coincides with recent estimates of the oxygen requirements of early animals. Here we report new Cr-isotope data from four late Mesoproterozoic carbonate-dominated successions. Samples were collected from the Turukhansk Uplift (Siberia), the El Mreiti Group (Mauritania), the Vazante Group (Brazil), and the Angmaat Formation (Canada). We emphasize the application of Cr-isotopes to carbonate rocks because the broad temporal range of this lithology in the geologic record provides an opportunity to significantly expand our understanding of Proterozoic oxygenation on shorter time scales. Our data indicate that pO2 levels required to support early animals were attained long before Neoproterozoic metazoan diversification, although the large degree of isotopic heterogeneity in our dataset may indicate that pO2 > 0.1-1% PAL was only a transient phenomenon in the Mesoproterozoic. This study demonstrates the utility of Cr-isotopes as an atmospheric redox proxy in carbonate rocks and helps inform future avenues of research on Proterozoic pO2 thresholds.

  14. Proterozoic metamorphism and uplift history of the north-central Laramie Mountains, Wyoming, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Patel, S.C.; Frost, B.R.; Chamberlain, K.R.; Snyder, G.L.

    1999-01-01

    The Laramie Mountains of south-eastern Wyoming contain two metamorphic domains that are separated by the 1.76 Ga. Laramie Peak shear zone (LPSZ). South of the LPSZ lies the Palmer Canyon block, where apatite U-Pb ages are c. 1745 Ma and the rocks have undergone Proterozoic kyanite-grade Barrovian metamorphism. In contrast, in the Laramie Peak block, north of the shear zone, the U-Pb apatite ages are 2.4-2.1 Ga, the granitic rocks are unmetamorphosed and supracrustal rocks record only low-T amphibolite facies metamorphism that is Archean in age. Peak mineral assemblages in the Palmer Canyon block include (a) quartz-biotite-plagioclase-garnet-staurolite-kyanite in the pelitic schists; (b) quartz-biotite-plagioclase-low-Ca amphiboles-kyanite in Mg-Al-rich schists, and locally (c) hornblende-plagioclase-garnet in amphibolites. All rock types show abundant textural evidence of decompression and retrograde re-equilibration. Notable among the texturally late minerals are cordierite and sapphirine, which occur in coronas around kyanite in Mg-Al-rich schists. Thermobarometry from texturally early and late assemblages for samples from different areas within the Palmer Canyon block define decompression from > 7 kbar to < 3 kbar. The high-pressure regional metamorphism is interpreted to be a response to thrusting associated with the Medicine Bow orogeny at c. 1.78-1.76 Ga. At this time, the north-central Laramie Range was tectonically thickened by as much as 12 km. This crustal thickening extended for more than 60 km north of the Cheyenne belt in southern Wyoming. Late in the orogenic cycle, rocks of the Palmer Canyon block were uplifted and unroofed as the result of transpression along the Laramie Peak shear zone to produce the widespread decompression textures. The Proterozoic tectonic history of the central Laramie Range is similar to exhumation that accompanied late-orogenic oblique convergence in many Phanerozoic orogenic belts.

  15. Iron-dependent nitrogen cycling in a ferruginous lake and the nutrient status of Proterozoic oceans

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Michiels, Céline C.; Darchambeau, François; Roland, Fleur A. E.; Morana, Cédric; Llirós, Marc; García-Armisen, Tamara; Thamdrup, Bo; Borges, Alberto V.; Canfield, Donald E.; Servais, Pierre; Descy, Jean-Pierre; Crowe, Sean A.

    2017-01-01

    Nitrogen limitation during the Proterozoic has been inferred from the great expanse of ocean anoxia under low-O2 atmospheres, which could have promoted NO3- reduction to N2 and fixed N loss from the ocean. The deep oceans were Fe rich (ferruginous) during much of this time, yet the dynamics of N cycling under such conditions remain entirely conceptual, as analogue environments are rare today. Here we use incubation experiments to show that a modern ferruginous basin, Kabuno Bay in East Africa, supports high rates of NO3- reduction. Although 60% of this NO3- is reduced to N2 through canonical denitrification, a large fraction (40%) is reduced to NH4+, leading to N retention rather than loss. We also find that NO3- reduction is Fe dependent, demonstrating that such reactions occur in natural ferruginous water columns. Numerical modelling of ferruginous upwelling systems, informed by our results from Kabuno Bay, demonstrates that NO3- reduction to NH4+ could have enhanced biological production, fuelling sulfate reduction and the development of mid-water euxinia overlying ferruginous deep oceans. This NO3- reduction to NH4+ could also have partly offset a negative feedback on biological production that accompanies oxygenation of the surface ocean. Our results indicate that N loss in ferruginous upwelling systems may not have kept pace with global N fixation at marine phosphorous concentrations (0.04-0.13 μM) indicated by the rock record. We therefore suggest that global marine biological production under ferruginous ocean conditions in the Proterozoic eon may thus have been P not N limited.

  16. 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.

  17. Paleomagnetism of Middle Proterozoic mafic intrusions and Upper Proterozoic (Nankoweap) red beds from the Lower Grand Canyon Supergroup, Arizona

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Weil, Arlo B.; Geissman, John W.; Heizler, Matt; Van der Voo, Rob

    2003-11-01

    Paleomagnetic data from lavas and dikes of the Unkar igneous suite (16 sites) and sedimentary rocks of the Nankoweap Formation (7 sites), Grand Canyon Supergroup (GCSG), Arizona, provide two primary paleomagnetic poles for Laurentia for the latest Middle Proterozoic (ca. 1090 Ma) at 32°N, 185°E (dp=6.8°, dm=9.3°) and early Late Proterozoic (ca. 850-900 Ma) at 10°S, 163°E (dp=3.5°, dm=7.0°). A new 40Ar/ 39Ar age determination from an Unkar dike gives an interpreted intrusion age of about 1090 Ma, similar to previously reported geochronologic data for the Cardenas Basalts and associated intrusions. The paleomagnetic data show no evidence of any younger, middle Late Proterozoic tectonothermal event such as has been revealed in previous geochronologic studies of the Unkar igneous suite. The pole position for the Unkar Group Cardenas Basalts and related intrusions is in good agreement with other ca. 1100 Ma paleomagnetic poles from the Keweenawan midcontinent rift deposits and other SW Laurentia diabase intrusions. The close agreement in age and position of the Unkar intrusion (UI) pole with poles derived from rift related rocks from elsewhere in Laurentia indicates that mafic magmatism was essentially synchronous and widespread throughout Laurentia at ca. 1100 Ma, suggesting a large-scale continental magmatic event. The pole position for the Nankoweap Formation, which plots south of the Unkar mafic rocks, is consistent with a younger age of deposition, at about 900 to 850 Ma, than had previously been proposed. Consequently, the inferred ˜200 Ma difference in age between the Cardenas Basalts and overlying Nankoweap Formation provides evidence for a third major unconformity within the Grand Canyon sequence.

  18. 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)

  19. Causes and consequences of mid-Proterozoic anoxia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Derry, Louis A.

    2015-10-01

    Evidence for low pO2 and a ferruginous ocean characterize the mid-Proterozoic (1.8-0.8 Ga). Considerations of redox sources and sinks imply that generation of O2 via organic carbon (Corg) burial must be low to maintain a low pO2 atmosphere for geologically long intervals, yet low oxygen should result in increased Corg preservation. Marine export production must therefore be low to limit Corg burial and O2 generation. Formation of ferrous phosphate can buffer deepwater phosphate (Pi) to levels an order of magnitude or more below those in the modern ocean, limiting export production. Low deepwater Pi is consistent with the hiatus in sedimentary phosphorite deposits during the mid-Proterozoic, and low pO2 limits formation of sedimentary iron deposits (BIF). We propose that low pO2 was maintained by P limitation resulting from ferrous phosphate buffering. The near-absence of BIF and phosphorite deposition is direct and indirect consequences of the low pO2, respectively.

  20. Caledonian and Proterozoic terrane accretion in the southwest Baltic Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meissner, R.; Krawczyk, C. H.

    1999-12-01

    A marine seismic reflection survey was carried out in 1996 by DEKORP, Potsdam, and BGR, Hannover in the SW Baltic Sea. Several tectonic lineaments were crossed nearly perpendicularly, for example, the Caledonian Deformation Front which is assumed to mark the northern boundary of the terrane Avalonia which accreted to Baltica ca. 400 Ma. Here, a bivergent collision is clearly observed, confirming early ideas from the BABEL survey. The NE-dipping reflections in the uppermost mantle are interpreted as signs of the subducted Tornquist Ocean. A similar tectonic style of compression and indentation is observed in the Proterozoic crust northeast of Bornholm, where in addition a remarkable crustal thickening and a strong increase of reflection power is observed. The three DEKORP lines in this area provide a certain three-dimensional control and allows extension of similar observations from the BABEL line A southward. This Proterozoic terrane accretion seems to be connected to major tectonic lineaments in southern Sweden, either to the Gothian Thrust or the Sveconorwegian Front.

  1. Molar tooth carbonates and benthic methane fluxes in Proterozoic oceans

    PubMed Central

    Shen, Bing; Dong, Lin; Xiao, Shuhai; Lang, Xianguo; Huang, Kangjun; Peng, Yongbo; Zhou, Chuanming; Ke, Shan; Liu, Pengju

    2016-01-01

    Molar tooth structures are ptygmatically folded and microspar-filled structures common in early- and mid-Proterozoic (∼2,500–750 million years ago, Ma) subtidal successions, but extremely rare in rocks <750 Ma. Here, on the basis of Mg and S isotopes, we show that molar tooth structures may have formed within sediments where microbial sulphate reduction and methanogenesis converged. The convergence was driven by the abundant production of methyl sulphides (dimethyl sulphide and methanethiol) in euxinic or H2S-rich seawaters that were widespread in Proterozoic continental margins. In this convergence zone, methyl sulphides served as a non-competitive substrate supporting methane generation and methanethiol inhibited anaerobic oxidation of methane, resulting in the buildup of CH4, formation of degassing cracks in sediments and an increase in the benthic methane flux from sediments. Precipitation of crack-filling microspar was driven by methanogenesis-related alkalinity accumulation. Deep ocean ventilation and oxygenation around 750 Ma brought molar tooth structures to an end. PMID:26739600

  2. Molar tooth carbonates and benthic methane fluxes in Proterozoic oceans.

    PubMed

    Shen, Bing; Dong, Lin; Xiao, Shuhai; Lang, Xianguo; Huang, Kangjun; Peng, Yongbo; Zhou, Chuanming; Ke, Shan; Liu, Pengju

    2016-01-07

    Molar tooth structures are ptygmatically folded and microspar-filled structures common in early- and mid-Proterozoic (∼2,500-750 million years ago, Ma) subtidal successions, but extremely rare in rocks <750 Ma. Here, on the basis of Mg and S isotopes, we show that molar tooth structures may have formed within sediments where microbial sulphate reduction and methanogenesis converged. The convergence was driven by the abundant production of methyl sulphides (dimethyl sulphide and methanethiol) in euxinic or H2S-rich seawaters that were widespread in Proterozoic continental margins. In this convergence zone, methyl sulphides served as a non-competitive substrate supporting methane generation and methanethiol inhibited anaerobic oxidation of methane, resulting in the buildup of CH4, formation of degassing cracks in sediments and an increase in the benthic methane flux from sediments. Precipitation of crack-filling microspar was driven by methanogenesis-related alkalinity accumulation. Deep ocean ventilation and oxygenation around 750 Ma brought molar tooth structures to an end.

  3. Molar tooth carbonates and benthic methane fluxes in Proterozoic oceans

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shen, Bing; Dong, Lin; Xiao, Shuhai; Lang, Xianguo; Huang, Kangjun; Peng, Yongbo; Zhou, Chuanming; Ke, Shan; Liu, Pengju

    2016-01-01

    Molar tooth structures are ptygmatically folded and microspar-filled structures common in early- and mid-Proterozoic (~2,500-750 million years ago, Ma) subtidal successions, but extremely rare in rocks <750 Ma. Here, on the basis of Mg and S isotopes, we show that molar tooth structures may have formed within sediments where microbial sulphate reduction and methanogenesis converged. The convergence was driven by the abundant production of methyl sulphides (dimethyl sulphide and methanethiol) in euxinic or H2S-rich seawaters that were widespread in Proterozoic continental margins. In this convergence zone, methyl sulphides served as a non-competitive substrate supporting methane generation and methanethiol inhibited anaerobic oxidation of methane, resulting in the buildup of CH4, formation of degassing cracks in sediments and an increase in the benthic methane flux from sediments. Precipitation of crack-filling microspar was driven by methanogenesis-related alkalinity accumulation. Deep ocean ventilation and oxygenation around 750 Ma brought molar tooth structures to an end.

  4. Late Cretaceous remagnetization of Proterozoic mafic dikes, southern Highland Mountains, southwestern Montana: A paleomagnetic and 40Ar/39Ar study

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Harlan, S.S.; Geissman, J.W.; Snee, L.W.; Reynolds, R.L.

    1996-01-01

    Paleomagnetic results from Early Proterozoic metabasite sills and Middle Proterozoic diabase dikes from the southern Highland Mountains of southwestern Montana give well-defined, dual-polarity magnetizations that are statistically identical to those from a small Late Cretaceous pluton that cuts the dikes. The concordance of paleomagnetic directions from rocks of three widely separated ages indicates that the Proterozoic rocks were remagnetized, probably during Late Cretaceous time. Paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, and petrographic observations from the metabasite and diabase samples indicate that remanence is carried primarily by low-Ti magnetite. Combining virtual geomagnetic poles from metabasite sills, diabase dikes, and the Late Cretaceous pluton, we obtain a paleomagnetic pole at 85.5??N, 310.7??E (K = 19.9, A95 = 9.1??, N = 14 sites) that is similar to a reference pole from the 74 Ma Adel Mountain Volcanics of western Montana. Biotite and hornblende 40Ar/39Ar isotopic dates from host basement geneiss and a hornblende from a remagnetized metabasite sill yield ages of ca. 1800 Ma; these dates probably record cooling of the southern Highland Mountains following high-grade metamorphism at 1.9-1.8 Ga. The gneiss and metabasite age spectra show virtually no evidence of disturbance, indicating that the basement rocks were never heated to temperatures sufficient to cause even partial resetting of their argon systems. Thus, the overprint magnetization of the Highland Mountains rocks is not a thermoremanent magnetization acquired during conductive cooling of nearby Late Cretaceous plutons. Remagnetization of the metabasite sills and diabase dikes was probably caused by localized thermochemical and thermoviscous effects during circulation of Late Cretaceous hydrothermal fluids related to epithermal mineralization. The absence of significant disturbance to the 40Ar/39Ar age spectrum from the remagnetized metabasite hornblende indicates that some secondary magnetizations may

  5. 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.

  6. Trace Fossil Analysis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hasiotis, Stephen T.

    2009-05-01

    Today, the study of trace fossils—ichnology—is an important subdiscipline of geology at the interface of paleontology and sedimentology, mostly because of the efforts of Adolf Seilacher. His ability to synthesize various aspects of ichnology and produce a hierarchy of marine ichna and sedimentary facies has made ichnology useful worldwide in interpreting paleodiversity, rates of sedimentation, oxygenation of bottom water and sediment pore water, and depositional energy. Seilacher's book Trace Fossil Analysis provides a glimpse into the mind, methodology, and insights of the father of modern ichnology, generated from his course notes as a professor and a guest lecturer. The title sounds misleading—readers looking for up-to-date principles and approaches to trace fossil analysis in marine and continental strata will be disappointed. In his preface, however, Seilacher clearly gives direction for the use of his text: “This is a course book—meaning that it is intended to confer not knowledge, but skill.” Thus, it is not meant as a total compilation of all trace fossils, ichnotaxonomy, ichnological interpretations, applications, or the most relevant and up-to-date references. Rather, it takes the reader on a personal journey, explaining how trace fossils are understood in the context of their three-dimensional (3-D) morphology and sedimentary facies.

  7. 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.

  8. The controversial "Cambrian" fossils of the Vindhyan are real but more than a billion years older.

    PubMed

    Bengtson, Stefan; Belivanova, Veneta; Rasmussen, Birger; Whitehouse, Martin

    2009-05-12

    The age of the Vindhyan sedimentary basin in central India is controversial, because geochronology indicating early Proterozoic ages clashes with reports of Cambrian fossils. We present here an integrated paleontologic-geochronologic investigation to resolve this conundrum. New sampling of Lower Vindhyan phosphoritic stromatolitic dolomites from the northern flank of the Vindhyans confirms the presence of fossils most closely resembling those found elsewhere in Cambrian deposits: annulated tubes, embryo-like globules with polygonal surface pattern, and filamentous and coccoidal microbial fabrics similar to Girvanella and Renalcis. None of the fossils, however, can be ascribed to uniquely Cambrian or Ediacaran taxa. Indeed, the embryo-like globules are not interpreted as fossils at all but as former gas bubbles trapped in mucus-rich cyanobacterial mats. Direct dating of the same fossiliferous phosphorite yielded a Pb-Pb isochron of 1,650 +/- 89 (2sigma) million years ago, confirming the Paleoproterozoic age of the fossils. New U-Pb geochronology of zircons from tuffaceous mudrocks in the Lower Vindhyan Porcellanite Formation on the southern flank of the Vindhyans give comparable ages. The Vindhyan phosphorites provide a window of 3-dimensionally preserved Paleoproterozoic fossils resembling filamentous and coccoidal cyanobacteria and filamentous eukaryotic algae, as well as problematic forms. Like Neoproterozoic phosphorites a billion years later, the Vindhyan deposits offer important new insights into the nature and diversity of life, and in particular, the early evolution of multicellular eukaryotes.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Buried Proterozoic foredeep under the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Boerner, D. E.; Kurtz, R. D.; Craven, J. A.; Rondenay, S.; Qian, W.

    1995-04-01

    Electromagnetic studies of the Precambrian basement beneath the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin in Alberta indicate a narrow linear conductivity anomaly spatially correlated with a strong positive magnetic feature, the Red Deer high. The conductor is located below sedimentary cover near the top of the crystalline basement and has limited depth extent. We propose that this anomalous feature represents graphitic metasedimentary rocks in the euxinic-flysch facies of a Proterozoic foredeep sequence. The strong magnetic anomaly results from an associated iron formation deposited on the outer ramp of the foredeep. This model explains the geophysical anomalies, has analogues on the exposed shield, and is consistent with the timing, deformation history, and known geology of the Precambrian basement.

  13. Clay Mineralogy and Organic Carbon Burial in Proterozoic Basins

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tosca, N. J.; Johnston, D. T.; Mushegian, A.; Rothman, D. H.; Knoll, A. H.

    2008-12-01

    Pedogenic, or soil-derived, clay minerals have long been implicated in the efficiency of organic matter (OM) burial and coincident accumulation of atmospheric oxygen. As diagenesis and metamorphism obscure pedogenic clays in many Precambrian rocks, clay mineralogy and its role in OM burial through much of geologic time remains incompletely understood. In this study we analyzed the mineralogy and total organic carbon (TOC) of a number of organic rich shales deposited in Late Archean to Early Cambrian sedimentary basins. Across all samples, diagenetic transformation of pre-existing smectite minerals has led to the predominance of glauconite and the diagenetic 1M and 1Md illite polytypes, which, collectively, can be thought of as "proto-smectite". The correlations between TOC and illite crystallinity suggest that OM burial and preservation in the Proterozoic proceeded by the physical aggregation of OM and pedogenic clays upon deposition. This association, in turn, led to the interference of OM with the illitization process, resulting in the ubiquitous relationship between high surface area (or, finely crystalline) material and high TOC. This interpretation is consistent with suggestions that the preservation of OM after burial proceeds by physical exclusion, with mineral surfaces effectively isolating OM from enzymatic breakdown. Together, it appears that the deposition of pedogenic clays has remained broadly constant over Proterozoic time and into the Early Cambrian, which is incompatible with the hypothesis that late Neoproterozoic oxygenation was influenced by increases in pedogenic clay production. As no clear temporal relationship exists between clays and OM, Precambrian oxygenation was likely controlled by other mechanisms.

  14. Reconstruction of ocean plate stratigraphy in the Gwna Group, NW Wales: Implications for the subduction-accretion process of a latest Proterozoic trench-forearc

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Asanuma, Hisashi; Okada, Yoshihiro; Fujisaki, Wataru; Suzuki, Kazue; Sato, Tomohiko; Sawaki, Yusuke; Sakata, Shuhei; Yamamoto, Shinji; Hirata, Takafumi; Maruyama, Shigenori; Windley, Brian F.

    2015-11-01

    The Gwna Group in Anglesey island and Lleyn peninsula, Wales consists of a latest Proterozoic volcano-sedimentary trench mélange, which has a complicated accretionary structure, and is poorly constrained by isotopic ages. The mélange contains oceanic-trench rocks including pillow basalts, cherts, mudstones and sandstones, which have not previously been interpreted as ocean plate stratigraphy (OPS). We reconstructed imbricated OPS at 5 localities in the coastal Lleyn peninsula. In order to constrain the depositional U-Pb age of the upper clastic sediments, detrital zircons, separated from 9 clastic sediments, were analyzed with a Nu AttoM single-collector inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometer. The ages indicate that there are two Gwna Groups (maximum depositional ages of: 1 at 608-601 Ma, and 2 at 564-539 Ma) that were deposited between the late Neoproterozoic and the Middle Cambrian contemporaneously with dated calc-alkaline arc magmatism and regional metamorphism in the Anglesey-Lleyn complex. The age spectra of the detrital zircons show a prominent peak at ca. 650-600 Ma, and several Proterozoic and Archean ages. To account for the older ages, we integrated our new isotopic data with published radiometric and fossil ages, and conclude that the clastic sediments at the top of the OPS were deposited in a trench on the western active margin of Avalonia when it was close to the Amazonian craton, and that the Gwna Group OPS began to be incorporated into an accretionary wedge in an active subduction zone in the latest Proterozoic.

  15. Magmatism in the Carolina terrane: Isotopic evidence for a Grenville-age source for Late Proterozoic volcanics and a mantle source for Silurian Concord syenite

    SciTech Connect

    Kozuch, M.; Heatherington, A.L.; Mueller, P.A. . Dept. of Geology); Offield, T.W.; Koeppen, R.P.; Klein, T.L. )

    1992-01-01

    Rhyolitic to andesitic volcanic rocks from the central portion of the Carolina slate belt in North Carolina were analyzed for Sr and Nd isotopic composition and dated by U-Pb zircon geochronology. Samples were from the greenschist-facies Late Proterozoic Albemarle Group, Uwharrie Formation, and the informal Virginia sequence. A rhyolite from the Cid Formation of the Albemarle Group dated by U-Pb zircon geochronology yielded a Pb-207/Pb-206 age of 575 [+-] 7.6 Ma, consistent with its position below strata containing the Late Proterozoic trace fossil Pteridinium and above rocks previously dated at 586 [+-] 10 Ma. Rb-Sr isotopic analyses of late Proterozoic rocks showed average initial Sr-87/Sr-86 ratios of approximately 0.704, indicating a moderately depleted source for these samples. E[sub ND] values at 600 Ma are moderately positive (+0.7 [minus] +2.3) and T(DM) values range from 1.19--1.04 Ga. These isotopic data, along with major and trace element data, suggest that andesites and rhyolites of the Carolina slate belt may have formed by partial melting of attenuated, Grenville-aged continental lithosphere during a 600 Ma episode of arc volcanism. In contrast, Sr and Nd data for the younger ([approximately]400 Ma) Concord pluton indicate it was derived from a depleted mantle source (Sr-87/Sr-86 = 0.7021 and E[sub ND] = +0.4 at 400 Ma) without significant involvement of older lithosphere (T(DM) = 370 Ma).

  16. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    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.

    2011-01-01

    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. PMID:21525049

  18. Late-Proterozoic to Paleozoic history of the peri-Gondwana Calabria-Peloritani Terrane inferred from a review of zircon chronology.

    PubMed

    Fornelli, Annamaria; Micheletti, Francesca; Piccarreta, Giuseppe

    2016-01-01

    U-Pb analyses of zircon from ten samples of augen gneisses, eight mafic and intermediate metaigneous rocks and six metasediments from some tectonic domains along the Calabria-Peloritani Terrane (Southern Italy) contribute to knowledge of peri-Gondwanan evolution from Late-Proterozoic to Paleozoic times. All samples were equilibrated under amphibolite to granulite facies metamorphism during the Variscan orogeny. The zircon grains of all considered samples preserve a Proterozoic memory suggestive of detrital, metamorphic and igneous origin. The available data fit a frame involving: (1) Neoproterozoic detrital input from cratonic areas of Gondwana; (2) Pan-African/Cadomian assemblage of blocks derived from East and West African Craton; (3) metamorphism and bimodal magmatism between 535 and 579 Ma, within an active margin setting; (4) rifting and opening of Ordovician basins fed by detrital input from the assembled Cadomian blocks. The Paleozoic basins evolved through sedimentation, metamorphism and magmatism during the Variscan orogeny involving Palaeozoic and pre-Paleozoic blocks. The Proterozoic zircon records decidedly decrease in the high grade metamorphic rocks affected by Variscan pervasive partial melting.

  19. Facies analysis of Late Proterozoic through Lower Cambrian rocks of the Death Valley regional ground-water system and surrounding areas, Nevada and California

    SciTech Connect

    Sweetkind, D.S.; White, D.K.

    2002-03-15

    Late Proterozoic through Lower Cambrian rocks in the southern Great Basin form a westward-thickening wedge of predominantly clastic deposits that record deposition on the early western shelf edge of western North America (Stewart and Poole, 1974; Poole and others, 1992). Regional analyses of geologic controls on ground-water flow in the southern Great Basin typically combined lithostratigraphic units into more general hydrogeologic units that have considerable lateral extent and distinct hydrologic properties. The Late Proterozoic through Lower Cambrian rocks have been treated as a single hydrogeologic unit, named the lower clastic aquitard (Winograd and Thordarson, 1975) or the quartzite confining unit (Laczniak and others, 1996), that serves as the hydrologic basement to the flow system. Although accurate in a general sense, this classification ignores well-established facies relations within these rocks that might increase bedrock permeability and locally influence ground-water flow . This report presents a facies analysis of Late Proterozoic through Lower Cambrian rocks (hereafter called the study interval) in the Death Valley regional ground-water flow system - that portion of the southern Great Basin that includes Death Valley, the Nevada Test Site, and the potential high-level nuclear waste underground repository at Yucca Mountain (fig. 1). The region discussed in this report, hereafter called the study area, covers approximately 100,000 km2 (lat 35 degrees-38 degrees 15'N., long 115 degrees-118 degrees W.). The purpose of this analysis is to provide a general documentation of facies transitions within the Late Proterozoic through Lower Cambrian rocks in order to provide an estimate of material properties (via rock type, grain size, and bedding characteristics) for specific hydrogeologic units to be included in a regional ground-water flow model.

  20. Low Mid-Proterozoic atmospheric oxygen levels and the delayed rise of animals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Planavsky, Noah J.; Reinhard, Christopher T.; Wang, Xiangli; Thomson, Danielle; McGoldrick, Peter; Rainbird, Robert H.; Johnson, Thomas; Fischer, Woodward W.; Lyons, Timothy W.

    2014-10-01

    The oxygenation of Earth’s surface fundamentally altered global biogeochemical cycles and ultimately paved the way for the rise of metazoans at the end of the Proterozoic. However, current estimates for atmospheric oxygen (O2) levels during the billion years leading up to this time vary widely. On the basis of chromium (Cr) isotope data from a suite of Proterozoic sediments from China, Australia, and North America, interpreted in the context of data from similar depositional environments from Phanerozoic time, we find evidence for inhibited oxidation of Cr at Earth’s surface in the mid-Proterozoic (1.8 to 0.8 billion years ago). These data suggest that atmospheric O2 levels were at most 0.1% of present atmospheric levels. Direct evidence for such low O2 concentrations in the Proterozoic helps explain the late emergence and diversification of metazoans.

  1. Earth history. Low mid-Proterozoic atmospheric oxygen levels and the delayed rise of animals.

    PubMed

    Planavsky, Noah J; Reinhard, Christopher T; Wang, Xiangli; Thomson, Danielle; McGoldrick, Peter; Rainbird, Robert H; Johnson, Thomas; Fischer, Woodward W; Lyons, Timothy W

    2014-10-31

    The oxygenation of Earth's surface fundamentally altered global biogeochemical cycles and ultimately paved the way for the rise of metazoans at the end of the Proterozoic. However, current estimates for atmospheric oxygen (O2) levels during the billion years leading up to this time vary widely. On the basis of chromium (Cr) isotope data from a suite of Proterozoic sediments from China, Australia, and North America, interpreted in the context of data from similar depositional environments from Phanerozoic time, we find evidence for inhibited oxidation of Cr at Earth's surface in the mid-Proterozoic (1.8 to 0.8 billion years ago). These data suggest that atmospheric O2 levels were at most 0.1% of present atmospheric levels. Direct evidence for such low O2 concentrations in the Proterozoic helps explain the late emergence and diversification of metazoans.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. How Strong is the Case for Proterozoic Low-Latitude Glaciation?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Evans, D. A.

    2004-05-01

    The most recent global compilations of paleomagnetic depositional latitudes for Proterozoic glaciogenic formations indicate a dominant mode near the paleo-equator (Evans 2000 AJS; Evans 2003 Tectonophysics). This result would therefore support either the snowball Earth or the large-obliquity hypotheses for Precambrian ice ages, but would reject the uniformitarian comparison to polar-temperate-restricted Phanerozoic glaciogenic deposits. The most reliable low-latitude results come from the Australian Marinoan succession, but a recent summary of these units has suggested that a glaciogenic origin is not yet demonstrated (Eyles and Januszczak 2004 Earth-Sci Reviews). It becomes useful, then, to review the global evidence for Proterozoic low-latitude glaciation. Eyles and Januszczak (ibid.) identified 13 Neoproterozoic deposits with "demonstrated" glacial influence. Among these, poor age constraints and lack of paleomagnetic data prohibit estimation of depositional paleolatitudes for the Fiq, Sturtian, Vreeland, Taoudeni, East Greenland, Port Askaig, and Zhengmuguan units. Moderate paleolatitudes are reasonably well supported for the South China, Gaskiers, Smalfjord, and Moelv units. Among the three remaining units, the Rapitan Group can be assigned a near-equatorial paleolatitude indirectly through use of the Galeros and Franklin-Natkusiak paleomagnetic results, as long as the Rapitan age lies within 750-720 Ma as generally expected. The Moonlight Valley Formation in northern Australia may be assigned a tropical paleolatitude according to high-quality paleomagnetic results from compellingly correlated Marinoan strata in southern Australia. Those strata, including the famous Elatina Formation, have yielded a robust paleomagnetic signature that is commonly interpreted to imply frigid climate (manifest in part by frost-wedge polygons) at near-equatorial latitudes. Concerns that the Neoproterozoic geomagnetic field was either nonaxial or nondipolar are valid in principle

  5. 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.

  6. Fossil evidence of water lilies (Nymphaeales) in the Early Cretaceous.

    PubMed

    Friis, E M; Pedersen, K R; Crane, P R

    2001-03-15

    Phylogenetic analyses have identified the water lilies (Nymphaeales: Cabombaceae and Nymphaeaceae), together with four other small groups of flowering plants (the 'ANITA clades': Amborellaceae, Illiciales, Trimeniaceae, Austrobaileyaceae), as the first diverging lineages from the main branch of the angiosperm phylogenetic tree, but evidence of these groups in the earliest phases of the angiosperm fossil record has remained elusive. Here we report the earliest unequivocal evidence, based on fossil floral structures and associated pollen, of fossil plants related to members of the ANITA clades. This extends the history of the water lilies (Nymphaeales) back to the Early Cretaceous (125-115 million years) and into the oldest fossil assemblages that contain unequivocal angiosperm stamens and carpels. This discovery adds to the growing congruence between results from molecular-based analyses of relationships among angiosperms and the palaeobotanical record. It is also consistent with previous observations that the flowers of early angiosperms were generally very small compared with those of their living relatives.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Cycles in fossil diversity.

    PubMed

    Rohde, Robert A; Muller, Richard A

    2005-03-10

    It is well known that the diversity of life appears to fluctuate during the course of the Phanerozoic, the eon during which hard shells and skeletons left abundant fossils (0-542 million years ago). Here we show, using Sepkoski's compendium of the first and last stratigraphic appearances of 36,380 marine genera, a strong 62 +/- 3-million-year cycle, which is particularly evident 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 the contributions of environmental factors, and possible causes.

  11. Atmospheric CO2 from fossil plant cuticles.

    PubMed

    Kerp, Hans

    2002-01-03

    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.

  12. Some key issues in reconstructions of Proterozoic supercontinents

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhao, Guochun; Sun, Min; Wilde, Simon A.; Li, Sanzhong; Zhang, Jian

    2006-10-01

    Supercontinents containing most of the earth's continental crust are considered to have existed at least twice in Proterozoic time. The younger one, Rodinia, formed at ˜1.0 Ga by accretion and collision of fragments produced by breakup of the older supercontinent, Columbia, which was assembled by global-scale 2.0-1.8 Ga collisional events. Little consensus has been reached regarding configurations of these supercontinents because of some unresolved issues concerning continental fits. One of these issues concerns how Siberia was related to Laurentia. Previous reconstructions that consider the Aldan Shield of Siberia as a continuation of the Wyoming Province of Laurentia have been largely abandoned in favor of models connecting Siberia to northern Laurentia, but it remains controversial which part of Siberia is contiguous with northern Laurentia. Also at issue is the western Laurentia-Australia-East Antarctica connection. Most Rodinia reconstructions place Australia, together with East Antarctica, adjacent to either western Canada (the SWEAT hypothesis) or the western United States (the AUSWUS hypothesis). However, recent studies combining paleomagnetic and isotopic age data have called into question the validity of SWEAT, AUSWUS and other variants. Another issue is the position of North China in Rodinia/Columbia. Limited paleomagnetic data seem to be consistent with the Paleo-Mesoproterozoic North China-Siberia/Baltica connection, whereas geological data support the recently proposed Archean to Mesoproterozoic North China-India connection. Controversial issues have also been raised about the timing and history of the amalgamation and fragmentation of South America and West Africa. Both geological and paleomagnetic data suggest that South America (São Francisco and Amazonia Cratons) and West Africa (Congo and West African Cratons) coalesced into a single landmass along the 2.1-2.0 Ga Transamazonian/Eburnean orogens. However, whether they were divorced and then re

  13. Microfossils' diversity from the Proterozoic Taoudeni Basin, Mauritania

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beghin, Jérémie; Houzay, Jean-Pierre; Blanpied, Christian; Javaux, Emmanuelle

    2014-05-01

    Prokaryotes and microscopic eukaryotes are known to have appeared well before the Cambrian's adaptative radiation which flourished perceptibly as a generalized macroscopic world. What do we know about the trigger events which stimulated eukaryotic diversification during the Proterozoic? Biological innovations or environmental changes, and indeed probably both (Knoll et al., 2006), played a fundamental role controlling this important step of life's evolution on Earth. Javaux (2011), proposed a diversification pattern of early eukaryotes divided into three steps and focusing on different taxonomic levels, from stem group to within crown group, of the domain Eukarya. Here, we present a new, exquisitely preserved and morphologically diverse assemblage of organic-walled microfossils from the 1.1 Ga El Mreiti Group of the Taoudeni Basin (Mauritania). The assemblage includes beautifully preserved microbial mats comprising pyritized filaments, prokaryotic filamentous sheaths and filaments, microfossils of uncertain biological affinity including smooth isolated and colonial sphaeromorphs (eukaryotes and/or prokaryotes), diverse protists (ornamented and process-bearing acritarchs), as well multicellular microfossils interpreted in the literature as possible xanthophyte algae. Several taxa are reported for the first time in Africa, but are known worldwide. This study improves microfossil diversity previously reported by Amard (1986) and shows purported xanthophyte algae contrary to a previous biomarker study suggesting the absence of eukaryotic algae, other than acritarchs, in the basin (Blumenberg et al., 2012). This new microfossil assemblage and others provide, all together, evidences of early and worldwide diversification of eukaryotes. Thereby, those first qualitative results also provide a basis for further and larger quantitative studies on the Taoudeni Basin. To better understand the palaeobiology (stem or crown group, aerobic or anaerobic metabolism) and

  14. Climate, paleoecology and abrupt change during the Late Proterozoic: A consideration of causes and effects

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McMenamin, Mark A. S.

    This chapter examines the influence of the biosphere on the initiation, and termination of, the glaciations of the late Proterozoic. Recent considerations suggest that the biosphere controlled the timing of the onset of glaciation and also controlled the timing of the end of glaciation. Massive carbonate accumulation and giant stromatolites of the Late Proterozoic, combined with major blooms of phytoplankton, led to significant drops in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, and forced climate from greenhouse to icehouse conditions. Cryoconites and hyperscums, each with a distinctively adapted cryophilic microbiota, developed during the Proterozoic ice ages and may have been a factor in melting the ice. The Proterozoic Tindir Group, Alaska provides evidence for such a cryophilic microbiota. Only by invoking the activity of such organisms can we explain the rapidity of deglaciation. A propensity to accumulate massive carbonates was present before the glaciation as well as after the deposition of the cap carbonates. Substrate disturbance by burrowing metazoa after the ice ages disrupted the microbial mat component of Proterozoic carbonate sequestration. Stromatolites after the glaciation tend to have porous, clotted and thrombolitic textures instead of evenly laminated textures and would therefore be less effective at retaining carbon dioxide (as carbonate and organic matter) and keeping it out of marine circulation. Newly emergent, burrowing metazoa of the Late Proterozoic eventually halted the development of ice-age inducing conditions, and may have prevented even worse glaciations by releasing hydrocarbons sequestered in seafloor sediment.

  15. 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

  16. Further records of Amphipoda from Baltic Eocene amber with first evidence of prae-copulatory behaviour in a fossil amphipod and remarks on the taxonomic position of Palaeogammarus Zaddach, 1864.

    PubMed

    Jażdżewski, Krzysztof; Grabowski, Michał; Kupryjanowicz, Janusz

    2014-02-20

    Two pieces of Baltic amber with amphipod inclusions were studied. One of them contained approximately twenty individuals identified as belonging to the extinct genus Palaeogammarus and described as P. debroyeri sp. nov. Interestingly, among the individuals there are two pairs preserved in an evident prae-copula position. This is the first finding of such mating behaviour in fossil amphipods. Based on this behavioural trait and on the observed morphological features, we conclude that the genus Palaeogammarus should be placed in Gammaridae and not in Crangonyctidae. The second amber piece contains two individuals identified as belonging to the still extant genus Synurella and described as S. aliciae sp. nov. 

  17. Anoxygenic photosynthesis modulated Proterozoic oxygen and sustained Earth's middle age.

    PubMed

    Johnston, D T; Wolfe-Simon, F; Pearson, A; Knoll, A H

    2009-10-06

    Molecular oxygen (O(2)) began to accumulate in the atmosphere and surface ocean ca. 2,400 million years ago (Ma), but the persistent oxygenation of water masses throughout the oceans developed much later, perhaps beginning as recently as 580-550 Ma. For much of the intervening interval, moderately oxic surface waters lay above an oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) that tended toward euxinia (anoxic and sulfidic). Here we illustrate how contributions to primary production by anoxygenic photoautotrophs (including physiologically versatile cyanobacteria) influenced biogeochemical cycling during Earth's middle age, helping to perpetuate our planet's intermediate redox state by tempering O(2) production. Specifically, the ability to generate organic matter (OM) using sulfide as an electron donor enabled a positive biogeochemical feedback that sustained euxinia in the OMZ. On a geologic time scale, pyrite precipitation and burial governed a second feedback that moderated sulfide availability and water column oxygenation. Thus, we argue that the proportional contribution of anoxygenic photosynthesis to overall primary production would have influenced oceanic redox and the Proterozoic O(2) budget. Later Neoproterozoic collapse of widespread euxinia and a concomitant return to ferruginous (anoxic and Fe(2+) rich) subsurface waters set in motion Earth's transition from its prokaryote-dominated middle age, removing a physiological barrier to eukaryotic diversification (sulfide) and establishing, for the first time in Earth's history, complete dominance of oxygenic photosynthesis in the oceans. This paved the way for the further oxygenation of the oceans and atmosphere and, ultimately, the evolution of complex multicellular organisms.

  18. Proterozoic to mesozoic mobile-belt geology, Pensacola Mountains, Antarctica

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schmidt, D. L.

    The Pensacola Mountains consist of four unconformable sequences of: (1) graywacke (oldest), (2) platform, (3) molasses, and (4) continental (youngest) deposits. The first sequence of Middle Proterozoic graywacke deposits (Patuxent Formation) consists of turbidite quartzbearing sandstone and slate and volcanic rocks. The second sequence consist of extensive platform deposits of Lower Cambrian archaeocyathidbearing limestone and Middle Cambrian trilobitebearing limestone (Nelson Limestone) that are overlain by shale (Wiens Formation), and silicic volcanic rocks (Gambacorta Formation) including rhyolitic ignimbrite of caldera origin. The third sequence, The pre-Devonian Neptune Group consists of of basal orogenic conglomerate and more than 1,500 m of quartz-sandstone molasse that resulted from the erosion of the early Paleozoic mountains of the Ross orogeny. The fourth sequence of continental deposits of the Beacon Supergroup consists of Devonian quartz sanstone (Dover Sandstone), Permian glacial tillite (Gale Mudstone), and Permian siltstone and shale (Pecora Formation) containing glossopterid-bearing coal beds. During Early and Middle Jurassic time, and Transantarctic continental rift extensionally split the East Antarctic craton from West Antarctica as Gondwanaland began to break up. The continental rifting was shortly followed, during Late Jurassic time, by more vigorous extension resulting from major transform faulting.

  19. Proterozoic diabase sills of northern Ontario: Magnetic properties and history

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Middleton, R. S.; Borradaile, G. J.; Baker, D.; Lucas, K.

    2004-02-01

    Magnetic fabrics show that a series of massive diabase sills ("Logan sills") possess flow fabrics away from the midcontinental Proterozoic rift system, near its triple junction on the north shore of Lake Superior. Their intense remanences are commonly antiparallel to the geomagnetic field, requiring some knowledge of natural remanent magnetization in order to interpret of ground magnetic surveys. Thermal demagnetization, low-temperature demagnetization, and the combined techniques yield differently oriented characteristic remanence vectors in some of these sills. Although the commonly reported "Keweenawan" reversed paleofield direction is verified by most A components, the orientation of vectors within sites and through the thickness of sills is large and may be attributed to reversals, excursions, and secular variation. B components are mostly down, but their orientation distribution is poorly concentrated. Low-temperature demagnetization, prior to thermal demagnetization, tends to improve the consistency of vectors defined in subsequent thermal demagnetization. Moreover, in some cases, three to five cycles of low-temperature demagnetization alone produces the same result as the more time-consuming thermal demagnetization. Some within-site scatter of the A components is large, and some anomalous specimen directions and alternate polarities may be associated with platinum group mineralization. Whereas the grand mean direction for all sites lies on the available apparent polar wander path between 1100 and 1300 Ma, the mean paleopole locations differ at the 95% level for different demagnetization treatments of specimens from the same sites.

  20. Continental accretion: contrasting Mesozoic and Early Proterozoic tectonic regimes in North America

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Condie, Kent C.; Chomiak, Beverly

    1996-11-01

    Juvenile continental crust was accreted to southern and western North America during the Early Proterozoic and Mesozoic, respectively. Graywacke, granite, granodiorite, and basalt comprise most of the accreted Early Proterozoic crust, whereas graywacke, andesite, basalt, and granodiorite comprise most of the Mesozoic crust. In addition, carbonates, ultramafics, pelagic sediments, and tonalite/diorite are minor but important components in the juvenile Mesozoic crust, whereas rhyolites are important in the Early Proterozoic crust. Mesozoic supracrustal rocks vary significantly in chemical composition, while Early Proterozoic supracrustals have a limited compositional range and exhibit a linear relation between many element concentrations suggesting a genetic linkage between accreted terranes. Although SiO 2, Al 2O 3, FeO, and incompatible elements are more enriched in Early Proterozoic than in Mesozoic supracrustal rocks, negative Eu anomalies are typical of rocks of both ages. Early Proterozoic granitoids are enriched in LILE (large ion lithophile elements) compared to Mesozoic granitoids, and granitoids of both ages of are enriched in LILE and have larger Eu anomalies than associated supracrustal rocks. Accreted Mesozoic upper crust is similar to andesite in chemical composition, and the bulk crust is similar to basaltic andesite. In contrast, accreted Early Proterozoic upper crust and bulk crust are similar to granodiorite and andesite, respectively. Incompatible elements are depleted in the Mesozoic compared to the Early Proterozoic crust, but both crustal types have negative NbTa anomalies. Depending on the composition assumed for the lower crust, both ages of crust have either very small or negligible Eu anomalies. Lifespans of the Early Proterozoic terranes (time interval between oldest rocks in a terrane and its collision with North America) are 20-80 My, whereas lifespans of Mesozoic terranes are 50-500 My, with most falling between 50 and 200 My. Within

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. Triassic leech cocoon from Antarctica contains fossil bell animal.

    PubMed

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

    2012-12-18

    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.

  4. 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

  5. Deformation styles in the Proterozoic Pinal schist, Pinal Mountains, Arizona

    SciTech Connect

    Keep, M.; Hansen, V. . Geology Dept.)

    1993-02-01

    A > 3 km thick, ductile, east-trending shear zone in the Pinal Peak map area, near Globe, Arizona, reveals contact metamorphism of the Pinal schist, through intrusion of the Proterozoic Madera granodiorite, and synchronous deformation of both units. The exposed shear zone comprises approximately 40 anastomosing shear zones, ranging in thickness from 10 cm to 40 cm, which cut both the Pinal schist and the Madera granodiorite. The shear zones have sharp boundaries that separate sheared material from massive zones lacking strong foliation, elongation lineation, and ductile deformation fabrics. The shear zones are characterized by well-developed, generally N- and NW- trending elongation lineation, and hand-sample scale S-C fabrics. Microstructures in Pinal schist and Madera granodiorite include S-C fabrics, mica fish', porphyroblast tails, and grain-shape- and lattice-preferred orientation of minerals, most of which indicate top-to-the-south displacement, consistent with field interpretations. Locally microstructures indicate top-to-the-north shear. Quartz c-axis fabrics were measured for 14 samples of Pinal schist and Madera granodiorite. Fabric diagrams show symmetric and symmetric double girdles, and activation of high temperature slip systems is evidenced by clustering of maxima in the center of the stereonet, parallel to the y-axis, in some plots. Symmetric fabrics indicate coaxial flattening. Asymmetric fabrics indicate top-to-the-north displacement, opposite to the shear sense derived from the majority of field and microstructural measurements. This may be indicative of a late-phase of backsliding on the shear zone, which could reset the quartz lattice fabrics. The high temperature slip systems of the quartz may be evidence for intrusion of the Madera granodiorite being early syn-tectonic in nature.

  6. A Modern Analogue for Proterozoic Inverse Carbon Isotope Signatures

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Close, H. G.; Diefendorf, A. F.; Freeman, K. H.; Pearson, A.

    2008-12-01

    The carbon isotope distribution preserved in sedimentary lipids changes near the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian boundary. In older samples, n-alkyl lipids contain more 13C than both isoprenoid lipids and kerogen [1]. In younger samples, the opposite prevails. Although extreme heterotrophy has been invoked as a mechanism to explain the enrichment in 13C [2], here we suggest another explanation. The switch may reflect a fundamental transition from an oligotrophic ocean dominated by prokaryotic biomass, to an ocean in which carbon fixation is more intensive and burial is dominated by eukaryotic biomass. An analogue for Proterozoic ordering is found in the modern, oligotrophic Pacific Ocean, where n-alkyl lipids of picoplankton (0.2-0.5 μm particulate matter) contain excess 13C relative to the same lipids found in larger size classes (> 0.5 μm). Picoplanktonic lipids are heavier isotopically (-18 ‰) than both the sterols of eukaryotes (-23 ‰ to -26 ‰) and the total organic matter (-20 ‰; TOM). The 0.2-0.5 μm size class also has a distinct chain-length abundance profile. Although large particles must be the vehicle for total carbon export, paradoxically the lipid component of export production appears to be dominated by the 0.2-0.5 μm source. The picoplanktonic chain lengths and isotopic composition dominate lipids of TOM at 670 meters. When the ratio of prokaryotic to eukaryotic production is high, as in the modern central Pacific Ocean, it appears that exported material has an inverse carbon isotope signature similar to that preserved in Precambrian samples. [1] Logan, G. A. et al., Nature 376:53-56 (1995). [2] Rothman, D. H. et al., PNAS 100:8124-8129 (2003).

  7. Assembling and disassembling california: A zircon and monazite geochronologic framework for proterozoic crustal evolution in southern California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Barth, A.P.; Wooden, J.L.; Coleman, D.S.; Vogel, M.B.

    2009-01-01

    The Mojave province in southern California preserves a comparatively complete record of assembly, postorogenic sedimentation, and rifting along the southwestern North American continental margin. The oldest exposed rocks are metasedimentary gneisses and amphibolite, enclosing intrusive suites that range from tonalite and quartz mon-zodiorite to granite with minor trondhjemite. Discrete magmatic episodes occurred at approximately 1790-1730 and 1690-1640 Ma. Evidence from detrital and premagmatic zircons indicates that recycling of 1900-1790 Ma Paleopro-terozoic crust formed the unique isotopic character of the Mojave province. Peak metamorphic conditions in the Mojave province reached middle amphibolite to granulite facies; metamorphism occurred locally from 1795 to 1640 Ma, with widespread evidence for metamorphism at 1711-1689 and 1670-1650 Ma. Structures record early, tight to isoclinal folding and penetrative west-vergent shear during the final metamorphic event in the west Mojave province. Proterozoic basement rocks are overlain by siliciclastic-carbonate sequences of Mesoproterozoic, Neoproterozoic, and Cambrian age, recording environmental change over the course of the transition from stable Mojave crust to the rifted Cordilleran margin. Neoproterozoic quartzites have diverse zircon populations inconsistent with a southwest North American source, which we infer were derived from the western conjugate rift pair within Rodinia, before establishment of the miogeocline. Neoproterozoic-Cambrian miogeoclinal clastic rocks record an end to rifting and establishment of the Cordilleran miogeocline in southern California by latest Neoproterozoic to Early Cambrian time. ?? 2009 by The University of Chicago.

  8. Correlated evolution and dietary change in fossil stickleback.

    PubMed

    Purnell, Mark A; Bell, Michael A; Baines, David C; Hart, Paul J B; Travis, Matthew P

    2007-09-28

    The importance of trophic ecology in adaptation and evolution is well known, yet direct evidence that feeding controls microevolution over extended evolutionary time scales, available only from the fossil record, is conspicuously lacking. Through quantitative analysis of tooth microwear, we show that rapid evolutionary change in Miocene stickleback was associated with shifts in feeding, providing direct evidence from the fossil record for changes in trophic niche and resource exploitation driving directional, microevolutionary change over thousands of years. These results demonstrate the potential for tooth microwear analysis to provide powerful insights into trophic ecology during aquatic adaptive radiations.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. Exploring macroevolution using modern and fossil data.

    PubMed

    Benton, Michael J

    2015-07-07

    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.

  12. Molybdenum isotope evidence for widespread anoxia in mid-Proterozoic oceans.

    PubMed

    Arnold, G L; Anbar, A D; Barling, J; Lyons, T W

    2004-04-02

    How much dissolved oxygen was present in the mid-Proterozoic oceans between 1.8 and 1.0 billion years ago is debated vigorously. One model argues for oxygenation of the oceans soon after the initial rise of atmospheric oxygen approximately 2.3 billion years ago. Recent evidence for H(2)S in some mid-Proterozoic marine basins suggests, however, that the deep ocean remained anoxic until much later. New molybdenum isotope data from modern and ancient sediments indicate expanded anoxia during the mid-Proterozoic compared to the present-day ocean. Consequently, oxygenation of the deep oceans may have lagged that of the atmosphere by over a billion years.

  13. Fossilization of melanosomes via sulfurization.

    PubMed

    McNamara, Maria E; van Dongen, Bart E; Lockyer, Nick P; Bull, Ian D; Orr, Patrick J

    2016-05-01

    Fossil melanin granules (melanosomes) are an important resource for inferring the evolutionary history of colour and its functions in animals. The taphonomy of melanin and melanosomes, however, is incompletely understood. In particular, the chemical processes responsible for melanosome preservation have not been investigated. As a result, the origins of sulfur-bearing compounds in fossil melanosomes are difficult to resolve. This has implications for interpretations of original colour in fossils based on potential sulfur-rich phaeomelanosomes. Here we use pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (Py-GCMS), fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) to assess the mode of preservation of fossil microstructures, confirmed as melanosomes based on the presence of melanin, preserved in frogs from the Late Miocene Libros biota (NE Spain). Our results reveal a high abundance of organosulfur compounds and non-sulfurized fatty acid methyl esters in both the fossil tissues and host sediment; chemical signatures in the fossil tissues are inconsistent with preservation of phaeomelanin. Our results reflect preservation via the diagenetic incorporation of sulfur, i.e. sulfurization (natural vulcanization), and other polymerization processes. Organosulfur compounds and/or elevated concentrations of sulfur have been reported from melanosomes preserved in various invertebrate and vertebrate fossils and depositional settings, suggesting that preservation through sulfurization is likely to be widespread. Future studies of sulfur-rich fossil melanosomes require that the geochemistry of the host sediment is tested for evidence of sulfurization in order to constrain interpretations of potential phaeomelanosomes and thus of original integumentary colour in fossils.

  14. Proterozoic geochronologic and isotopic boundary in NW Arizona

    SciTech Connect

    Chamberlain, K.R.; Bowring, S.A. )

    1990-05-01

    U-Pb ages determined from zircon, sphene, and apatite in conjunction with Pb isotopic analyses of alkali feldspar establish a regional geochronological framework and constrain the location of a major north-trending Proterozoic crustal boundary in northwestern Arizona. Two regions west of the boundary (Hualapai Mountains and Lost Basin Range-Garnet Mountain) are characterized by complex U-Pb zircon systematics, evidence for inheritance of an older zircon component (1.8-2.3 Ga), and elevated {sup 207}Pb/{sup 204}Pb from feldspars compared to the east. Although the discordia patterns are complex, supracrustal rocks are interpreted to be ca. 1.73 Ga and are intruded by plutonic rocks ca. 1.70 Ga. Deformation is younger than ca. 1.70 Ga foliated granites and older than the 1,682 {plus minus} 4 Ma Garnet Mt. monzogranite. The rocks in one area east of the boundary (Cottonwood Cliffs) are characterized by relatively simple U-Pb zircon systematics, no evidence for inheritance of any older component, and feldspar {sup 207}/{sup 204}Pb near model mantle values. Supracrustal rocks are older than 1.73 Ga, as they are intruded by a 1,730 {plus minus} 9 Ma foliated granodiorite. Timing of deformation is constrained by the late syn-kinematic Valentine granite dated at 1,713 {plus minus} 12 Ma. Mineral ages indicate that the rocks on either side of the boundary had different cooling histories and inferentially, different uplift histories. West of the boundary, the cooling history is inferred from minerals separated from an amphibolite: metamorphic zircon is 1,687 +13/{minus}8 Ma, sphene is 1,660 {plus minus} 5 Ma, hornblende has a {sup 40}Ar/{sup 39}Ar age of 1,552 {plus minus} 5 Ma, and apatite has a U-Pb age of 1,520 {plus minus} 45 Ma. East of the boundary an amphibolite has sphene with an age of 1,670 {plus minus} 11 Ma and apatite with an age of 1,630 {plus minus} 8 Ma.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. A sulfur isotope study of pyrite genesis: The mid-proterozoic Newland formation, belt supergroup, Montana

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Strauss, Harald; Schieber, Jürgen

    1990-01-01

    Different generations of sedimentary pyrite from the Mid-Proterozoic Newland Formation, USA, have been analysed for their sulfur isotopic compositions. The results indicate bacterial sulfate reduction as the pyrite forming process. The δ 34S values for early diagenetic pyrite, around -14%., are in contrast to dominantly more positive values for many other Middle Proterozoic units. A progressive reduction of sulfate availability during diagenesis can be recognized by an increase in 34S content (Rayleigh Distillation) as well as through detailed petrographic observations. Contemporaneous seawater had a sulfur isotopic ratio between +14 and +18%. as measured from sedimentary barite within the unit.

  18. Geochronologic and isotopic evidence for early Proterozoic crust in the eastern Arabian Shield

    SciTech Connect

    Stacey, J.S.; Hedge, C.E.

    1984-05-01

    The authors report zircon U-Pb, feldspar common Pb, whole-rock Sm-Nd, and Rb-Sr data from sample Z-103, a fine-grained granodiorite from the Jabal Khida region of the Saudi Arabian Shield (lat 21/sup 0/19'N; long 44/sup 0/50'W). The measurements yield conclusive evidence for continental crust of early Proterozoic age (approx.1630 Ma) at that locality. Furthermore, lead-isotope data indicate an even earlier, perhaps Archean, crustal history for the source of the lower Proterozoic rocks. 17 references, 4 figures, 1 table.

  19. Secular variation in carbon isotope ratios from Upper Proterozoic successions of Svalbard and East Greenland.

    PubMed

    Knoll, A H; Hayes, J M; Kaufman, A J; Swett, K; Lambert, I B

    1986-06-26

    Analyses of stratigraphically continuous suites of samples from Upper Proterozoic sedimentary successions of East Greenland, Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet (Svalbard) provide an approximation to the secular variation in carbon isotope ratios during a geologically and biologically important period of change from around 900 million years ago to the beginning of the Cambrian period. Late Riphean carbonates and organic material show a stratigraphically useful pattern of enrichment in 13C relative to Phanerozoic or earlier Proterozoic samples. Isotopic compositions of isolated samples from other localities are consistent with a worldwide extended interval of enhanced organic burial and consequent net survival of oxidized material, probably O2, just before the initial radiation of metazoans.

  20. Phenotypic Evolution in Fossil Species: Pattern and Process

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hunt, Gene; Rabosky, Daniel L.

    2014-05-01

    Since Darwin, scientists have looked to the fossil record with the hope of using it to document how the phenotypes of species change over substantial periods of time. How best to interpret this record has been controversial, but empirical and methodological advances have resolved at least two issues about pattern: (a) directional transformations are seldom sustained over geological timescales, and (b) net rates of morphological change in fossil species are usually quite slow. Considerable uncertainty remains, however, about the processes responsible for these patterns, but most fruitful explanations use the framework of adaptive landscapes to consider the role of natural selection and other processes. An additional, unresolved issue is the claim that most phenotypic change is associated with speciation. A variety of methods, using data from both fossil and extant species, have supported such a link, at least in some clades and traits, but its prevalence and underlying mechanism remain unresolved.

  1. Overview of the Proterozoic evolution of the Lewisian Gneiss Complex, Scotland - constraints from the SE corner of Laurentia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Goodenough, Kathryn; Krabbendam, Maarten; Crowley, Quentin

    2013-04-01

    Prior to the opening of the Atlantic, the Lewisian Gneiss Complex in the NW Highlands of Scotland formed part of the Archaean-Proterozoic Laurentian craton. Over the last decades a large number of geochronological studies have elucidated its evolution, as summarised by Kinny et al. 2005. The Lewisian thus provides an important link between Laurentia and Baltica during the Proterozoic Most of the Lewisian Gneiss Complex was formed during the Meso- to Neoarchaean, as a series of crustal terranes that were largely amalgamated at the end of the Archaean to form part of the North Atlantic Craton. During the Proterozoic, numerous igneous, tectonic and metamorphic events have affected and reworked the complex; these can be linked to similar events in mainland Laurentia and/or Baltica. Here, we provide an overview of the Proterozoic history, based on information from the literature and new geochronological data (Goodenough et al. in press). Juvenile magmas were emplaced into many parts of the Lewisian Gneiss Complex in the period c. 1900-1870 Ma, followed locally by high-grade metamorphism. Magmatism at this time has now been recognised along most terrane boundaries in the Lewisian. Some distinct terranes with arc-like characteristics are recognised (Loch Maree Group, South Harris Complex) whereas elsewhere granitoids intruded into Archaean crust (Laxford Shear Zone). This magmatic activity was related to the development of continental arcs during the accretion of the Columbia supercontinent, and may be correlated with the Ketilidian or Nagssugtoqidian events in Greenland and the Svecofennian and Lapland-Kola belts in Scandinavia. Subsequently, the Lewisian Gneiss Complex was affected by a crustal thickening and heating event (or events) during the period 1770-1650 Ma. This period is characterised by amphibolite-facies metamorphism, shearing (typically sinistral strike slip or transpression) and intrusion of largely crustal-derived granite and pegmatite sheets. Again

  2. 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)

  3. 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.

  4. Fossil calibrations and molecular divergence time estimates in centrarchid fishes (Teleostei: Centrarchidae).

    PubMed

    Near, Thomas J; Bolnick, Daniel I; Wainwright, Peter C

    2005-08-01

    Molecular clock methods allow biologists to estimate divergence times, which in turn play an important role in comparative studies of many evolutionary processes. It is well known that molecular age estimates can be biased by heterogeneity in rates of molecular evolution, but less attention has been paid to the issue of potentially erroneous fossil calibrations. In this study we estimate the timing of diversification in Centrarchidae, an endemic major lineage of the diverse North American freshwater fish fauna, through a new approach to fossil calibration and molecular evolutionary model selection. Given a completely resolved multi-gene molecular phylogeny and a set of multiple fossil-inferred age estimates, we tested for potentially erroneous fossil calibrations using a recently developed fossil cross-validation. We also used fossil information to guide the selection of the optimal molecular evolutionary model with a new fossil jackknife method in a fossil-based model cross-validation. The centrarchid phylogeny resulted from a mixed-model Bayesian strategy that included 14 separate data partitions sampled from three mtDNA and four nuclear genes. Ten of the 31 interspecific nodes in the centrarchid phylogeny were assigned a minimal age estimate from the centrarchid fossil record. Our analyses identified four fossil dates that were inconsistent with the other fossils, and we removed them from the molecular dating analysis. Using fossil-based model cross-validation to determine the optimal smoothing value in penalized likelihood analysis, and six mutually consistent fossil calibrations, the age of the most recent common ancestor of Centrarchidae was 33.59 million years ago (mya). Penalized likelihood analyses of individual data partitions all converged on a very similar age estimate for this node, indicating that rate heterogeneity among data partitions is not confounding our analyses. These results place the origin of the centrarchid radiation at a time of major

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Molybdenum Isotopes and the Oxygenation of the Mid-Proterozoic Ocean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Arnold, G. L.; Anbar, A. D.; Barling, J.

    2002-12-01

    Recently debate has arisen over the redox state of the mid-Proterozoic oceans. The occurrence of banded iron formations (BIF) in the Archean and Paleoproterozoic strongly suggests oceans with little dissolved O2 or H2S until ca. 1.8 Ga. The disappearance of BIF after this time is commonly taken to indicate ocean oxygenation. Alternatively, the extent of sulfidic conditions in the oceans may have increased after 1.8 Ga (Canfield, 1998). According to this view, ocean oxygenation did not occur until PO{2} approached modern levels after ~1 Ga. These different scenarios have important evolutionary implications (Anbar and Knoll, 2002). The molybdenum (Mo) stable isotope system may provide insight to this debate We previously observed systematic Mo isotope fractionation (δ97/95Mo) between recent oxic and sulfidic sediments (Barling et al., 2001; Arnold et al., 2001). The δ97/95Mo of seawater and sulfidic sediments are essentially the same, suggesting that the Mo isotope composition of the oceans is largely controlled by fractionation during removal to oxic sediments. The extent of fractionation between adsorbed and dissolved Mo in laboratory experiments is comparable to the extent of fractionation observed between Mn oxides and seawater (~1.7 ‰ ), supporting this suggestion (Barling and Anbar, 2002; Siebert et al., 2001). The laboratory experiments indicate that adsorption of Mo onto Mn oxide particles is an equilibrium process with a characteristic αsolution-MnO{2} of 1.0017. Therefore, δ97/95Moseawater may reflect the global balance between Mo removal to oxic and sulfidic sediments and changes in this balance could be recorded as changes in δ97/95Mo in ancient black shales deposited under sulfidic condtions. If the proportion of seafloor under oxic waters were smaller in the past, δ97/95Mo in black shales should shift toward lighter values. An investigation of Mo-rich black shales from the Wollogorang Fm. (~1.73 Ga) and Velkerri Fm. (~1.4 Ga) from the Mc

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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…

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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)

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Calcified microbes in Neoproterozoic carbonates: implications for our understanding of the Proterozoic/Cambrian transition

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, A. H.; Fairchild, I. J.; Swett, K.

    1993-01-01

    Tidal flat and lagoonal dolostones of the Neoproterozoic Draken Formation, Spitsbergen, exhibit excellent preservation of carbonate fabrics, including heavily calcified microfossils. The crust-forming cyanobacterium Polybessurus is preserved locally by carbonate precipitated on and within sheaths in mildly evaporitic upper intertidal to supratidal environments. In contrast, calcified filaments in columnar stromatolites reflect subtidal precipitation. Filament molds in dolomicrites independently document extremely early lithification. The presence of heavily calcified cyanobacteria in Draken and other Proterozoic carbonates constrains potential explanations for the widespread appearance of calcified microorganisms near the Proterozoic-Cambrian boundary. We propose that the rarity of Proterozoic examples principally reflects the abundance and wide distribution of carbonate crystals precipitated on the sea floor or in the water column. Cyanobacterial sheaths would have competed effectively as sites for carbonate nucleation and growth only where calcitic and/or aragonitic nuclei were absent. In this view, the Proterozoic-Cambrian expansion of calcified microfossils primarily reflects the emergence of skeletons as principal agents of carbonate deposition.

  17. Lemhi Arch, a late Proterozoic and early Paleozoic landmass, central Idaho

    SciTech Connect

    Ruppel, E.T.

    1985-05-01

    The northwest-trending Lemhi arch of central Idaho first formed in late middle Proterozoic time, and as much as 4500 m (14,760 ft) of middle Proterozoic clastic rocks were eroded in later proterozoic time. The west flank of the arch was partly covered in late Proterozoic(.) and Early Cambrian time by the Wilbert Formation. On the east flank, westward-thinning marine sedimentation began with deposition of the Middle Cambrian Flathead Formation, and continued through the Late Cambrian. During Ordovician and Silurian times, the east flank of the arch was dry. The west flank was submerged in the Ordovician, and the Summerhouse Formation, Kinnikinnic Quartzite, and Saturday Mountain formation were deposited. The west flank of the arch was briefly exposed after deposition of the Saturday Mountain Formation, but was partly submerged later in the Silurian, when the Laketwon Dolomite was deposited. During the Middle and Late Devonian, deposition was renewed on the west flank of the arch, where the Jefferson formation indicates eastward transgression. The east flank was exposed until the late Devonian, when a thin sequence of the Jefferson and Three Forks Formations was deposited across the top of the arch, and marine sedimentation was continuous from the miogeocline far onto the craton. The Lemhi arch continued to influence marine deposition even after it was submerged, separating shelf deposits in southwest Montana and eastcentral Idaho from miogeoclinal deposits in central Idaho. The arch was overridden by the Medicine Lodge thrust in late Early and Late Cretaceous times.

  18. Calcified microbes in Neoproterozoic carbonates: implications for our understanding of the Proterozoic/Cambrian transition.

    PubMed

    Knoll, A H; Fairchild, I J; Swett, K

    1993-01-01

    Tidal flat and lagoonal dolostones of the Neoproterozoic Draken Formation, Spitsbergen, exhibit excellent preservation of carbonate fabrics, including heavily calcified microfossils. The crust-forming cyanobacterium Polybessurus is preserved locally by carbonate precipitated on and within sheaths in mildly evaporitic upper intertidal to supratidal environments. In contrast, calcified filaments in columnar stromatolites reflect subtidal precipitation. Filament molds in dolomicrites independently document extremely early lithification. The presence of heavily calcified cyanobacteria in Draken and other Proterozoic carbonates constrains potential explanations for the widespread appearance of calcified microorganisms near the Proterozoic-Cambrian boundary. We propose that the rarity of Proterozoic examples principally reflects the abundance and wide distribution of carbonate crystals precipitated on the sea floor or in the water column. Cyanobacterial sheaths would have competed effectively as sites for carbonate nucleation and growth only where calcitic and/or aragonitic nuclei were absent. In this view, the Proterozoic-Cambrian expansion of calcified microfossils primarily reflects the emergence of skeletons as principal agents of carbonate deposition.

  19. Proterozoic crustal boundary in the southern part of the Illinois Basin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Heigold, Paul C.; Kolata, Dennis R.

    1993-01-01

    Recently acquired COCORP and proprietary seismic reflection data in the southern part of the Illinois Basin, combined with other geological and geophysical data, indicate that a WNW-trending Proterozoic terrane boundary (40 km wide) lies within basement. The boundary is characterized by the termination of subhorizontal Proterozoic reflectors and associated diffraction patterns along a line coinciding with the major magnetic lineament in this region (South Central Magnetic Lineament). North of the boundary, where reflectors thought to represent a sequence of layered Proterozoic rocks in the upper crust are widespread and as much as 11 km thick, total magnetic intensity values are relatively high, suggesting layers of rock with high magnetic susceptibility. To the south, the Proterozoic rocks are acoustically transparent on seismic reflection sections and total magnetic intensity values are relatively low. Moreover, relatively high Bouguer gravity anomaly values to the south may be caused by a dense, altered, lower crustal layer similar to that interpreted from deep seismic refraction studies to underlie the northern Mississippi Embayment. The boundary lies along the projected trend of the northern margin of the Early Proterozoic Central Plains orogen and we suggest that it marks the convergent margin of this orogen. Reactivation of the boundary and the associated zone of weakness during late Paleozoic times apparently resulted in structural deformation in the southern part of the Illinois Basin, including movement along the Cottage Grove Fault System and Ste. Genevieve Fault Zone and igneous activity at Hicks Dome. In addition to the role played by this crustal boundary in the evolution of the Illinois Basin, its location between the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone to the northeast and the New Madrid Seismic Zone to the southwest may be a significant factor in present-day seismicity.

  20. Carbonate deposition during the late Proterozoic Era: an example from Spitsbergen.

    PubMed

    Knoll, A H; Swett, K

    1990-01-01

    Carbonate sediments reflect the physico-chemical and biological circumstances of their formation; thus, features of limestones and dolomites may provide insights into both environmental and evolutionary change through geological time. The Upper Proterozoic (approx 800-700 Ma) Akademikerbreen Group, Spitsbergen, comprises 2000 m of carbonates, with only minor intercalations of quartz arenite and shale. Although Proterozoic carbonates are often seen as predominantly dolomitic, the Akademikerbreen Group is about 45 percent limestone. Stromatolites are conspicuous in outcrop but constitute only 25 percent of the total section. Micrites and coarser intraclastic carbonates derived mainly from micritric precursors comprise 60 percent of the group, while oolites make up the remaining 15 percent. Distinctive sedimentary features of the group include giant (up to 16 mm) ooids, very early diagenetic calcite nodules and cements, micrites containing subaqueous shrinkage cracks filled with equant microspar cement, and strong 13C enrichment in both carbonates and co-occurring organic matter. The principal features of Akademikerbreen carbonates are widely distributed in coeval successions. However, these rocks appear to differ from older limestones and dolomites in their relative abundance of grainstones and, perhaps, micrites, as well as their paucity of tufa-like laminates and columnar or coniform stromatolites that preserve petrographic evidence of in situ precipitation as a dominant means of carbonate accretion. Upper Proterozoic carbonates also differ from Paleozoic accumulations, but the transition is not abrupt. Most changes accompanying the Proterozoic/Phanerozoic transition can be interpreted in terms of the consequences rather than the causes of metazoan and metaphyte evolution, including the evolution of biomineralization. Carbonate sedimentology reinforces data from other sources which indicate the last 200 to 300 Ma of the Proterozoic Eon was a distinctive interval of

  1. Carbonate deposition during the late Proterozoic Era: an example from Spitsbergen

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Knoll, A. H.; Swett, K.

    1990-01-01

    Carbonate sediments reflect the physico-chemical and biological circumstances of their formation; thus, features of limestones and dolomites may provide insights into both environmental and evolutionary change through geological time. The Upper Proterozoic (approx 800-700 Ma) Akademikerbreen Group, Spitsbergen, comprises 2000 m of carbonates, with only minor intercalations of quartz arenite and shale. Although Proterozoic carbonates are often seen as predominantly dolomitic, the Akademikerbreen Group is about 45 percent limestone. Stromatolites are conspicuous in outcrop but constitute only 25 percent of the total section. Micrites and coarser intraclastic carbonates derived mainly from micritric precursors comprise 60 percent of the group, while oolites make up the remaining 15 percent. Distinctive sedimentary features of the group include giant (up to 16 mm) ooids, very early diagenetic calcite nodules and cements, micrites containing subaqueous shrinkage cracks filled with equant microspar cement, and strong 13C enrichment in both carbonates and co-occurring organic matter. The principal features of Akademikerbreen carbonates are widely distributed in coeval successions. However, these rocks appear to differ from older limestones and dolomites in their relative abundance of grainstones and, perhaps, micrites, as well as their paucity of tufa-like laminates and columnar or coniform stromatolites that preserve petrographic evidence of in situ precipitation as a dominant means of carbonate accretion. Upper Proterozoic carbonates also differ from Paleozoic accumulations, but the transition is not abrupt. Most changes accompanying the Proterozoic/Phanerozoic transition can be interpreted in terms of the consequences rather than the causes of metazoan and metaphyte evolution, including the evolution of biomineralization. Carbonate sedimentology reinforces data from other sources which indicate the last 200 to 300 Ma of the Proterozoic Eon was a distinctive interval of

  2. Proterozoic crustal boundary in the southern part of the Illinois Basin

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Heigold, P.C.; Kolata, Dennis R.

    1993-01-01

    Recently acquired COCORP and proprietary seismic reflection data in the southern part of the Illinois Basin, combined with other geological and geophysical data, indicate that a WNW-trending Proterozoic terrane boundary (40 km wide) lies within basement. The boundary is characterized by the termination of subhorizontal Proterozoic reflectors and associated diffraction patterns along a line coinciding with the major magnetic lineament in this region (South Central Magnetic Lineament). North of the boundary, where reflectors thought to represent a sequence of layered Proterozoic rocks in the upper crust are widespread and as much as 11 km thick, total magnetic intensity values are relatively high, suggesting layers of rock with high magnetic susceptibility. To the south, the Proterozoic rocks are acoustically transparent on seismic reflection sections and total magnetic intensity values are relatively low. Moreover, relatively high Bouguer gravity anomaly values to the south may be caused by a dense, altered, lower crustal layer similar to that interpreted from deep seismic refraction studies to underlie the northern Mississippi Embayment. The boundary lies along the projected trend of the northern margin of the Early Proterozoic Central Plains orogen and we suggest that it marks the convergent margin of this orogen. Reactivation of the boundary and the associated zone of weakness during late Paleozoic times apparently resulted in structural deformation in the southern part of the Illinois Basin, including movement along the Cottage Grove Fault System and Ste. Genevieve Fault Zone and igneous activity at Hicks Dome. In addition to the role played by this crustal boundary in the evolution of the Illinois Basin, its location between the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone to the northeast and the New Madrid Seismic Zone to the southwest may be a significant factor in present-day seismicity. ?? 1993.

  3. Travels with the Fossil Hunters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Whybrow, Peter J.

    2000-04-01

    Whether dodging bullets in West Africa, or rabid dogs in Pakistan, surviving yak-butter tea in Tibet, or eating raw fish in China, the life of a globe-trotting fossil hunter is often hazardous and always filled with surprises. Travels with the Fossil Hunters lets readers share the wonder, joys of discovery, and excitement of these intrepid scientists. Packed with more than 100 beautiful, full-color photographs, the volume takes readers on twelve expeditions to remote parts of the world in search of diverse fossil remains, from those of dinosaurs to human ancestors. Each expedition by paleontologists from London's Natural History Museum reveals the problems and challenges of working in extreme conditions, from the deserts of the Sahara and Yemen to the frozen wastes of Antarctica, from the mountains of India to the forests of Latvia. Along the way they also describe the paleontology and geology of the countries they visit and the scientific reasons for their expeditions. With a foreword from Sir David Attenborough and an introduction from Richard Fortey, this fascinating book will appeal to amateur and professional fossil hunters alike and to readers interested in accounts of exotic locales. Peter Whybrow is a research scientist at the Natural History Museum, London. His research interests include Arabian Miocene vertebrates, paleoclimates, paleogeography, and biotic diversity. He is senior editor with A. Hill of Fossil Vertebrates of Arabia (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1999).

  4. Fossil Leaves and Fossil Leaf n-Alkanes: Reconstructing the First Closed Canopied Rainforests

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Graham, H. V.; Freeman, K. H.

    2013-12-01

    Although the age and location is disputed, the rise of the first closed-canopy forest is likely linked with the expansion of angiosperms in the late Cretacous or early Cenozoic. The carbon isotope 'canopy effect' reflects the extent of canopy closure, and is well documented in δ13C values of the leaves and leaf lipids in modern forests. To test the extent of canopy closure among the oldest documented angiosperm tropical forests, we analyzed isotopic characteristics of leaf fossils and leaf waxes from the Guaduas and Cerrejón Formations. The Guaduas Fm. (Maastrichtian) contains some of the earliest angiosperm fossils in the Neotropics, and both leaf morphology and pollen records at this site suggest an open-canopy structure. The Cerrejón Fm. (Paleocene) contains what are believed to be the first recorded fossil leaves from a closed-canopy forest. We analyzed the bulk carbon isotope content (δ13Cleaf) of 199 fossil leaves, as well as the n-alkane concentration and chain-length distribution, and δ13C of alkanes (δ13Clipid) of 73 fossil leaves and adjacent sediment samples. Fossil leaves are dominated by eudicots and include ten modern plant families (Apocynaceae, Bombaceae, Euphorbaceae, Fabaceae, Lauraceae, Malvaceae, Meliaceae, Menispermaceae, Moraceae, Sapotaceae). We interpreted extent of canopy coverage based on the range of δ13Cleaf values. The narrow range of δ13C values in leaves from the Guaduas Fm (2.7‰) is consistent with an open canopy. A significantly wider range in values (6.3‰) suggests a closed-canopy signature for site 0315 of the Cerrejón Fm,. In contrast, at Site 0318, a lacustrine deposit, leaves had a narrow range (3.3‰) in δ13C values, and this is not consistent with a closed-canopy, but is consistent with leaf assemblages from a forest edge. Leaves that accumulate in lake sediments tend to be biased toward plants living at the lake edge, which do not experience closed-canopy conditions, and do not express the isotopic

  5. Fossil gaps inferred from phylogenies alter the apparent nature of diversification in dragonflies and their relatives

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background The fossil record has suggested that clade growth may differ in marine and terrestrial taxa, supporting equilibrial models in the former and expansionist models in the latter. However, incomplete sampling may bias findings based on fossil data alone. To attempt to correct for such bias, we assemble phylogenetic supertrees on one of the oldest clades of insects, the Odonatoidea (dragonflies, damselflies and their extinct relatives), using MRP and MRC. We use the trees to determine when, and in what clades, changes in taxonomic richness have occurred. We then test whether equilibrial or expansionist models are supported by fossil data alone, and whether findings differ when phylogenetic information is used to infer gaps in the fossil record. Results There is broad agreement in family-level relationships between both supertrees, though with some uncertainty along the backbone of the tree regarding dragonflies (Anisoptera). "Anisozygoptera" are shown to be paraphyletic when fossil information is taken into account. In both trees, decreases in net diversification are associated with species-poor extant families (Neopetaliidae, Hemiphlebiidae), and an upshift is associated with Calopterygidae + Polythoridae. When ghost ranges are inferred from the fossil record, many families are shown to have much earlier origination dates. In a phylogenetic context, the number of family-level lineages is shown to be up to twice as high as the fossil record alone suggests through the Cretaceous and Cenozoic, and a logistic increase in richness is detected in contrast to an exponential increase indicated by fossils alone. Conclusions Our analysis supports the notion that taxa, which appear to have diversified exponentially using fossil data, may in fact have diversified more logistically. This in turn suggests that one of the major apparent differences between the marine and terrestrial fossil record may simply be an artifact of incomplete sampling. Our results also support

  6. 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.

  7. Palaeobiology: Argentinian unhatched pterosaur fossil.

    PubMed

    Chiappe, Luis M; Codorniú, Laura; Grellet-Tinner, Gerald; Rivarola, David

    2004-12-02

    Our knowledge of the eggs and embryos of pterosaurs, the Mesozoic flying reptiles, is sparse. Until now, the recent discovery of an ornithocheirid embryo from 121-million-year-old rocks in China constituted the only reliable evidence of an unhatched pterosaur. Here we describe an embryonic fossil of a different pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous lacustrine deposits of Loma del Pterodaustro (the Lagarcito Formation, which is about 100 million years old) in central Argentina. This new fossil provides insight into the eggshell morphology, early growth and nesting environments of pterosaurs.

  8. The oldest Mahonia (Berberidaceae) fossil from East Asia and its biogeographic implications.

    PubMed

    Huang, Jian; Su, Tao; Lebereton-Anberrée, Julie; Zhang, Shi-Tao; Zhou, Zhe-Kun

    2016-03-01

    Interpretation of the biogeography of the genus Mahonia (Berberidaceae) is limited by the lack of fossil records in East Asia. Compressed fossil foliage, described here as Mahonia mioasiatica sp. nov., were collected from the Upper Miocene Xiaolongtan Formation in Wenshan, Yunnan, southwest China. These specimens represent the oldest reliable fossil record of Mahonia in East Asia. This new fossil species shows a general similarity to Group Orientales and is most similar to the extant eastern Asian Mahonia conferta. Considering other fossil evidence of Mahonia, we propose a migration route of this genus to Asia over the North Atlantic Land Bridge rather than the Bering Land Bridge. Our results also suggest that North America, Europe and East Asia have been successive centers of diversity for the genus, as a consequence of diversification in Group Orientales potentially related to historical climate change.

  9. Fossils, rocks, and time

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, Lucy E.; Pojeta, John

    1999-01-01

    We study our Earth for many reasons: to find water to drink or oil to run our cars or coal to heat our homes, to know where to expect earthquakes or landslides or floods, and to try to understand our natural surroundings. Earth is constantly changing--nothing on its surface is truly permanent. Rocks that are now on top of a mountain may once have been at the bottom of the sea. Thus, to understand the world we live on, we must add the dimension of time. We must study Earth's history. When we talk about recorded history, time is measured in years, centuries, and tens of centuries. When we talk about Earth history, time is measured in millions and billions of years. Time is an everyday part of our lives. We keep track of time with a marvelous invention, the calendar, which is based on the movements of Earth in space. One spin of Earth on its axis is a day, and one trip around the Sun is a year. The modern calendar is a great achievement, developed over many thousands of years as theory and technology improved. People who study Earth's history also use a type of calendar, called the geologic time scale. It looks very different from the familiar calendar. In some ways, it is more like a book, and the rocks are its pages. Some of the pages are torn or missing, and the pages are not numbered, but geology gives us the tools to help us read this book.

  10. Fossils, rocks, and time

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, Lucy E.; Pojeta, John

    1993-01-01

    We study out Earth for many reasons: to find water to drink or oil to run our cars or coal to heat our homes, to know where to expect earthquakes or landslides or floods, and to try to understand our natural surroundings. Earth is constantly changing--nothing on its surface is truly permanent. Rocks that are not on top of a mountain may once have been on the bottom of the sea. Thus, to understand the world we live on, we must add the dimension of time. We must study Earth's history. When we talk about recorded history, time is measured in years, centuries, and tens of centuries. When we talk about Earth history, time is measured in millions and billions of years. Time is an everyday part of our lives. We keep track of time with a marvelous invention, the calendar, which is based on the movements of the Earth in space. One spin of Earth on its axis is a day, and one trip around the sun is a year. The modern calendar is a great achievement, developed over many thousands of years as theory and technology improved. People who study Earth's history also use a type of calendar, called the geologic time scale. It looks very different from the familiar calendar. In some ways, it is more like a book, and the rocks are its pages. Some of the pages are torn or missing, and the pages are not numbered, but geology gives us the tools to help us read this book.

  11. Peaches Preceded Humans: Fossil Evidence from SW China

    PubMed Central

    Su, Tao; Wilf, Peter; Huang, Yongjiang; Zhang, Shitao; Zhou, Zhekun

    2015-01-01

    Peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is an extremely popular tree fruit worldwide, with an annual production near 20 million tons. Peach is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000–7000 BP. Here, we report eight fossil peach endocarps from late Pliocene strata of Kunming City, Yunnan, southwestern China. The fossils are identical to modern peach endocarps, including size comparable to smaller modern varieties, a single seed, a deep dorsal groove, and presence of deep pits and furrows. These fossils show that China has been a critical region for peach evolution since long before human presence, much less agriculture. Peaches evolved their modern morphology under natural selection, presumably involving large, frugivorous mammals such as primates. Much later, peach size and variety increased through domestication and breeding. PMID:26610240

  12. Peaches Preceded Humans: Fossil Evidence from SW China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Su, Tao; Wilf, Peter; Huang, Yongjiang; Zhang, Shitao; Zhou, Zhekun

    2015-11-01

    Peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is an extremely popular tree fruit worldwide, with an annual production near 20 million tons. Peach is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000-7000 BP. Here, we report eight fossil peach endocarps from late Pliocene strata of Kunming City, Yunnan, southwestern China. The fossils are identical to modern peach endocarps, including size comparable to smaller modern varieties, a single seed, a deep dorsal groove, and presence of deep pits and furrows. These fossils show that China has been a critical region for peach evolution since long before human presence, much less agriculture. Peaches evolved their modern morphology under natural selection, presumably involving large, frugivorous mammals such as primates. Much later, peach size and variety increased through domestication and breeding.

  13. Scratching an ancient itch: an Eocene bird louse fossil.

    PubMed Central

    Wappler, Torsten; Smith, Vincent S; Dalgleish, Robert C

    2004-01-01

    Out of the 30 extant orders of insects, all but one, the parasitic lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera), have a confirmed fossil record. Here, we report the discovery of what appears to be the first bird louse fossil: an exceptionally well-preserved specimen collected from the crater of the Eckfeld maar near Manderscheid, Germany. The 44-million-year-old specimen shows close phylogenetic affinities with modern feather louse ectoparasites of aquatic birds. Preservation of feather remnants in the specimen's foregut confirms its association as a bird ectoparasite. Based on a phylogenetic analysis of the specimen and palaeoecological data, we suggest that this louse was the parasite of a large ancestor to modern Anseriformes (swans, geese and ducks) or Charadriiformes (shorebirds). The crown group position of this fossil in the phylogeny of lice confirms the group's long coevolutionary history with birds and points to an early origin for lice, perhaps inherited from early-feathered theropod dinosaurs. PMID:15503987

  14. Modulation of fossil fuel production by global temperature variations, 2

    SciTech Connect

    Rust, B.W.; Crosby, F.J.

    1994-01-01

    The report includes the inverse modulation of global fossil production by variations in Northern Hemispheric temperatures. The present study incorporates recent revisions and extensions of the fuel production record and uses a much improved temperature record. The authors show that the new data are consistent with the predictions of the original Rust-Kirk model which they then extend to allow for time lag between variations in the temperature and the corresponding responses in fuel production. The modulation enters the new model through the convolution of a lagged averaging function with the temperature time-series. The authors also include explicit terms to account for the perturbations caused by the Great Depression and World War II. The final model accounts for 99.84% of the total variance in the production record. This modulation represents a feedback which is consistent with the carbon dioxide problem; climate change; fossil fuel production; global warming Gaia hypothesis; temperature variations.

  15. New Paleomagnetic Constraints on the Proterozoic Supercontinent Evolution: A view from the South

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Trindade, R. I.

    2013-05-01

    The assembly and disruption of supercontinents is thought to have impacted the long-term evolution of different envelopes of the Earth throughout Precambrian times, from mantle convection dynamics to feedback mechanisms leading to the stepwise change in atmospheric oxygenation. But the timing, duration, the size and the paleogeographic configuration of Precambrian supercontinents is still a matter of discussion. Large South American cratonic units (>30,000 km2) such as the Amazon, Rio de la Plata and São Francisco are usually represented as key pieces of different supercontinental assemblies but their paleomagnetic database is still scarce. The most important advances in the Precambrian paleomagnetic database concerns the Amazon Craton. Recent paleomagnetic studies allows one to track the participation of the Amazon Craton in several supercontinent assemblies from 2.0 Ga up to the end of the Proterozoic era. Amazonia was definitely part of the Columbia Supercontinent as attested by 1.78-1.79 Ga key poles. This supercontinent also comprised Laurentia, Baltica, North China, and Amazonia, forming a long and continuous landmass, linked by Paleo- to Mesoproterozoic mobile belts. Paleomagnetic data for Amazonia support a long-lived connection between Laurentia and Baltica at least until 1.26 Ga ago. However, new paleomagnetic poles from the same craton suggest that Columbia was in fact ephemerous, indicating a changing configuration between Amazonia and Baltica between 1.78 and 1.44 Ma. At the end of the Mesoproterozoic, the Amazon craton is part of Rodinia based on its record of Grenvillian events with overlapping ages with similar orogenic belts in eastern Laurentia. But its relative position in that supercontinent is still intensively debated. Presently only four poles for the Amazonian craton are available for the 1,200-900 Ma interval. Based on these results a dynamic model for the Amazonian craton was envisaged, which considers its oblique collision with southern

  16. Middle Proterozoic uplift events in the Dunbar dome of northeastern Wisconsin, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Peterman, Z.E.; Sims, P.K.; Zartman, R.E.; Schulz, K.J.

    1985-01-01

    Isotopic ages of granitic and metamorphic rocks exposed in the Dunbar structural dome of northeastern Wisconsin identify a protracted series of tectonic and "hydrothermal" events that culminated in major regional uplift during Middle Proterozoic (Keweenawan; ca 1,100 Ma) continental rifting and volcanism. The major rock-forming events and the structural development of the dome occurred during the interval 1,862+/-4 Ma to 1,836+/-6 Ma. Whole-rock Rb-Sr ages are partly reset in response to a widely recognized but cryptic event in Wisconsin and Michigan at about 1,630 Ma. The scale and systematic character of the whole-rock resetting strongly suggests the presence of a fluid phase derived in situ from water dissolved in the silicates or externally from a subthrust plate of low-grade metamorphic rocks. The regional nature of the 1,630-Ma disturbance possibly indicates that it is related to a major tectonic event such as an active plate margin far to the south. Rb-Sr biotite ages for the Dunbar dome (this study), the southern complex of the Marquette district (Van Schmus and Woolsey 1975) and the Felch trough area (Aldrich and others 1965) provide a remarkably coherent pattern that reflects multiple episodes of differential uplift. Younger events superimposed on a regional 1,630-Ma imprint are recorded at 1,330 Ma and 1,140 Ma. The 1,330 Ma disturbance could reflect stabilization following intrusion of the Wolf River batholith at 1,485 Ma. The 1,140-Ma uplift event occurred during Keweenawan rifting and volcanism as a result of stresses imposed on a mosaic of fault-bounded blocks with possible subcrustal influence. The remarkably small variance in the 1,140-Ma biotite age peak argues for rapid uplift and cooling, and hence rapid erosion. Detritus from the uplift probably was being shed into nearby tectonic basins most of which did not survive subsequent uplift and erosion. ?? 1985 Springer-Verlag.

  17. Species longevity in North American fossil mammals.

    PubMed

    Prothero, Donald R

    2014-08-01

    Species longevity in the fossil record is related to many paleoecological variables and is important to macroevolutionary studies, yet there are very few reliable data on average species durations in Cenozoic fossil mammals. Many of the online databases (such as the Paleobiology Database) use only genera of North American Cenozoic mammals and there are severe problems because key groups (e.g. camels, oreodonts, pronghorns and proboscideans) have no reliable updated taxonomy, with many invalid genera and species and/or many undescribed genera and species. Most of the published datasets yield species duration estimates of approximately 2.3-4.3 Myr for larger mammals, with small mammals tending to have shorter species durations. My own compilation of all the valid species durations in families with updated taxonomy (39 families, containing 431 genera and 998 species, averaging 2.3 species per genus) yields a mean duration of 3.21 Myr for larger mammals. This breaks down to 4.10-4.39 Myr for artiodactyls, 3.14-3.31 Myr for perissodactyls and 2.63-2.95 Myr for carnivorous mammals (carnivorans plus creodonts). These averages are based on a much larger, more robust dataset than most previous estimates, so they should be more reliable for any studies that need species longevity to be accurately estimated.

  18. A Methane-rich Proterozoic Atmosphere: Possible Link to the Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth Glaciations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pavlov, A. A.; Kasting, J. F.; Hurtgen, M.; Arthur, M. A.

    2001-12-01

    An enhanced atmospheric greenhouse effect is required throughout Archean and Proterozoic to offset reduced solar luminosity. In the anoxic Archean atmosphere CH4 could have been an important greenhouse gas because of the decreased levels of the primary oxidants - OH, O and H2O2. However, after the major transition of the atmospheric oxidation state at 2.0-2.3 Gyr, the photochemical lifetimes of reduced atmospheric gases (like methane) should have been much shorter. Therefore, a common view of the Proterozoic climate suggests that CO2 was the major greenhouse gas (along with H2O) and that atmospheric CH4 concentrations were low. Here we argue that substantial methane levels could have been present in the Proterozoic atmosphere if O2 levels were somewhat lower than today. In agreement with earlier calculations, our 1-D photochemical model shows that the atmospheric methane mixing ratio is a highly nonlinear function of the surface methane flux. In our model, a factor of 10 increase in the methane flux results in a 60-fold increase of the surface methane concentration. 1-D climate calculations show that such a high methane abundance would keep the mean global surface temperature at ~296 K under reduced solar luminosity conditions ( ~17 % decreased solar luminosity at 2.3 Gyr ago), even if CO2 was present only at today's level. Here we propose several reasons why the net methane flux could have been indeed substantially higher in the Proterozoic, compared to the present day. In the modern ecosystem, 99.9 % of methane, produced by methanogens, is being consumed by methanotrophic bacteria. These bacteria would presumably consume much less methane if O2 levels were lower. Moreover, in the present day sulfate-rich ocean methanogens living in sediments are outcompeted by sulfate reducers and forced to live in the nutrient-poor environments. Methane is also consumed in marine sediments by anaerobic methanotrophs living in consortium with