Navigation Links
University of Saskatchewan, Royal Ontario Museum researchers track half-billion year old predator
Date:11/8/2011

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) have followed fossilized footprints to a multi-legged predator that ruled the seas of the Cambrian period about half a billion years ago.

"Short of finding an animal at the end of its trackway, it's really very rare to be able to identify the producer so confidently," said Nicholas Minter, lead author of the article on the study, which appears in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Minter is a postdoctoral research fellow in the U of S department of geological sciences.

The research team worked with samples gathered from the Burgess Shale, famed for its exquisitely detailed fossils from the Cambrian Explosion, a time when life underwent a dramatic change with the appearance of all the modern groups of organisms and some bizarre creatures. Located near the village of Field in Canada's Yoho National Park in British Columbia, the Burgess Shale is an international treasure, providing an unparalleled window into the distant past.

Fossils from the Burgess Shale record not only the animals themselves exceedingly rare because most of them had soft bodies but also the trackways they left behind while hunting on the sea floor.

"Most researchers have focused on the body fossils of the Burgess Shale," said study co-author Gabriela Mngano, who co-leads the ichnology research group in the U of S geological sciences department with colleague Luis Buatois. "By studying its trackways, trails and burrows, we may dramatically impact our understanding of these ancient ecosystems."

Key to the research were trackways collected during a field expedition in 2008 led by ROM curator Jean-Bernard Caron.

"I spotted a portion of the largest trackway, which is over three metres in length, in 2000," he said. "At that time we left most of it behind us. We could not carry the pieces safely down slope from this remote site without helicopter support."

The 2008 expedition included this support, so fragments of the trackway were collected by carefully separating them from the associated rock layers. These delicate pieces were then packed, air lifted from the mountain, and shipped to the ROM.

Fossil trackways and other fossilized evidence of animal activities such as burrows, bite marks and feces are known as trace fossils. These provide evidence of where animals were living and what they were doing, but the full identity of the producers is rarely known.

In this case, size of the tracks and the number of legs needed to make them left only one suspect: Tegopelte gigas. This caterpillar-like animal sported a smooth, soft shell on its back and 33 pairs of legs beneath. One of the largest arthropods of its time, it could reach up to 30 cm in length.

By analyzing both the fossilized remains of Tegopelte and the trackways, the researchers were able to reconstruct how this animal would have moved. The creature was capable of skimming rapidly across the seafloor, with legs touching the sediment only briefly, supporting the view that Tegopelte was a large and active top carnivore. Such lifestyles would have been important in shaping early marine communities and evolution during the Cambrian explosion.

The trackways were collected under Parks Canada Research and Collecting permits and are now located at the ROM. Managed by Parks Canada, the Burgess Shale was recognized in 1981 as one of Canada's first UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Now protected under the larger Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Burgess Shale attracts visitors to Yoho each year for guided hikes to the restricted fossil beds from July to September.
'/>"/>

Contact: Michael Robin
michael.robin@usask.ca
306-966-1425
University of Saskatchewan
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Rice University establishes National Corrosion Center
2. Case Western Reserve University researchers track Chernobyl fallout
3. Case Western Reserve University project ties soil conservation and river management together
4. Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital expand national childrens study to Bristol County
5. NIH selects Case Western Reserve University to participate in National Childrens Study
6. US Senate confirms Clemson University engineering Dean Esin Gulari to National Science Board
7. University professor stresses links between US Navy sonar and whale strandings
8. Scent on demand: Hebrew University scientists enhance the scent of flowers
9. University success at national engineering awards
10. University of Leicester professor adds new perspective to rainforest debate
11. Providing toilets, safe water is top route to reducing world poverty: UN University
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
 University of Saskatchewan, Royal Ontario Museum researchers track half-billion year old predator
(Date:6/15/2016)... 15, 2016 Transparency Market ... Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry Analysis Size ... to the report, the  global gesture recognition market ... and is estimated to grow at a CAGR ... 2024.  Increasing application of gesture recognition ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 2016 Paris Police Prefecture ... security solution to ensure the safety of people and operations ... the major tournament Teleste, an international technology group ... announced today that its video security solution will be utilised ... up public safety across the country. The system roll-out is ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... LONDON , June 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Transport Management) von Nepal ... ,Angebot und Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich ... weltweit führend in der Produktion und Implementierung ... an der Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo Bioworks , ... industrial engineering, was today awarded as one of ... of the world,s most innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks ... for the real world in the nutrition, health ... work directly with customers including Fortune 500 companies ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle ... people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new ... , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" ... commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors ... such as WDR5 represent an exciting class of ... precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to ... faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: