Navigation Links
Earlier global warming produced a whole new form of life

Researchers from McGill University, along with colleagues from the California Institute of Technology, the Curie Institute in Paris, Princeton University and other institutions, have unearthed crystalline magnetic fossils of a previously unknown species of microorganism that lived at the boundary of the Paleocene and Eocene epochs, some 55 million years ago. Their results were published Oct. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research might help scientists understand more thoroughly the potential effects of significant changes in the Earth's climate.

Though they are only some four microns long, these newly discovered, spear-shaped magnetite crystals (magnetofossils) unearthed at a dig in New Jersey are up to eight times larger than previously known magnetofossils. Magnetofossils are remnants of magnetite crystals produced by a type of bacteria called magnetotactic bacteria that are capable of orienting themselves along the direction of the Earth's magnetic field.

The new fossils are "unlike any magnetite crystal ever described," the study's first author Dirk Schumann a graduate student at McGill's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences told Nature News.

"Previous reports suggested that the source of the magnetic signature in the boundary layer was a type of magnetite that was formed by the impact of a comet," said lead researcher and corresponding author Dr. Hojatollah Vali. "In our previous paper we proved that the magnetic signature comes from biogenic material.

"This is an entirely new class of organism that no one has reported before," explained Vali, a professor jointly appointed in McGill's Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Earth and Planetary Sciences. "When my colleagues and I first discovered magnetofossils in deep-sea sediments in the mid-1980s, we knew already that magnetotactic bacteria produced magnetite and then we looked for the magnetofossils. In our new study, we discovered the magnetofossils first without knowing the organism."

This species of microorganism, explained Vali, lived during a period of abrupt global warming known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when worldwide temperatures rose by 5 to 6 C over a period of 20,000 years.

"What's very interesting is that we know the very specific time frame when these organisms existed," he said. "If you go below it, we don't find them, and if you go above it, we don't find them. Five degrees warmer may not seem like much, but there was much more iron available due to increased weathering. The additional iron is required for the microorganism to produce the giant magnetofossils. It is clear that a similar abrupt global warming climatic event could have a severe impact upon our biosphere."


Contact: Mark Shainblum
McGill University

Related biology news :

1. New molecular clock from LLNL and CDC indicates smallpox evolved earlier than believed
2. Researchers detect hint of oxygen 50 to 100 million years earlier than first believed
3. Earlier bites by uninfected mosquitoes boost West Nile deaths in lab mice
4. Texas A&M scientists say early Americans arrived earlier
5. Alzheimers starts earlier for heavy drinkers, smokers
6. Shell-breaking crabs lived 20 million years earlier than thought
7. Sierra Nevada rose to current height earlier than thought, say Stanford geologists
8. Birds migrate earlier, but some may be left behind as the climate warms rapidly
9. Global Warming and the Habitability of Planet Earth, Sept. 26
10. Green skies: Engineers work may reduce jet travels role in global warming
11. Scientists in first global study of poison gas in the atmosphere
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)...  Arxspan has entered into an agreement with ... use of its ArxLab cloud-based suite of biological ... will support the institute,s efforts to electronically manage ... internally and with external collaborators. The ArxLab suite ... Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound and assay registration, ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... , Nov. 10, 2015  In this ... the basis of product, type, application, disease ... in this report are consumables, services, software. ... are safety biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, and validation ... report are diagnostics development, drug discovery and ...
(Date:11/9/2015)...  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), the leading ... into the automotive market with a comprehensive and dedicated ... consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, industry-leading touch controllers, ... automotive industry and will be implemented in numerous locations ... , Japan , and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015  PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: PIP) announced  today ... rights plan (Rights Plan) in an effort to preserve ... under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). ... use of its NOLs could be substantially limited if ... Section 382 of the Code. In general, an ownership ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX ) ... CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting at the ... New York . .   ... 5 minutes prior to the presentation to download or ... will be available on the website approximately one hour ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 The Global Genomics ... professional and in-depth study on the current state ... ) , The report ... definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. The ... markets including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 24, 2015 Cepheid ... will be speaking at the following conference, and invited ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference, New York, NY ...
Breaking Biology Technology: