Navigation Links
Fossil data plugs gaps in current knowledge, study shows
Date:10/2/2007

Researchers have shown for the first time that fossils can be used as effectively as living species in understanding the complex branching in the evolutionary tree of life.

While many scientists feel that fossils can offer insights from the ancient past, others have been reluctant to use extinct species because the data they offer is often less complete.

Most biologists, for example, have traditionally tried to piece together the evolutionary relationships between species using only the animals that are alive today.

But in research published in journal Systematic Biology, scientists from the University of Bath and the Natural History Museum compared the morphological datasets of 45 animal groups, both living (extant) and extinct.

By running a series of analyses they were able to measure how much the family tree of life needed to be altered when data from these extant and extinct species is included or removed.

They found no difference in the impact that the fossil groups made on the family tree compared to extant groups.

Evolutionary biologists try to reconstruct rapid and deep evolutionary branching events that happened many tens or hundreds of millions of years ago, said Dr Matthew Wills from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, who worked with Andrea Cobbett (University of Bath) and Dr Mark Wilkinson (Natural History Museum).

Unlike living species, fossils offer ancient snapshots of life forms that were around at the time those branching events occurred.

Also, living species have millions of years worth of change piled on top of this, which can often bury the important signals we need to understand.

Despite this, detractors have claimed that because fossil data are often less complete, usually just bones, shells and other hard parts, they are likely to muddy the water and make it difficult to find a robust evolutionary tree.

What our research has done is demonstrate conclusively, and for the first time, that this is not the case.

We also show that adding just one fossil to an analysis can result in a radically different picture of that group's evolutionary history. The trees constructed without fossils may be oversimplifications, and far from the truth.


'/>"/>

Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
a.mclaughlin@bath.ac.uk
44-012-253-86883
University of Bath
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists find fossil proof of Egypts ancient climate
2. Oldest fossil human protein ever sequenced
3. Oldest cranial, dental and postcranial fossils of early modern European humans confirmed
4. Researchers find new giant amphibian fossils in Africa
5. Molecular fossils uncover link between viruses and the immune system
6. Evidence of 600-million-year old fungi-algae symbiosis discovered in marine fossils
7. Spider blood found in 20 million year old fossil
8. Space matters: Estimating species diversity in the fossil record
9. Virginia Tech, Nanjing Institute researchers discover half-billion year-old fossils
10. Missing fossil link Dallasaurus found
11. Bugs expose underground carbon traffic system 10 times more important than fossil fuel burning
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/21/2016)... , Nov. 21, 2016   Neurotechnology ... object recognition technologies, today announced that the MegaMatcher ... cards was submitted for the NIST Minutiae ... passed all the mandatory steps of the evaluation ... is a continuing test of fingerprint templates used ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... Md. , Nov. 15, 2016  Synthetic ... company developing therapeutics focused on the gut microbiome, ... offering of 25,000,000 shares of its common stock ... common stock at a price to the public ... proceeds to Synthetic Biologics from the offering, excluding ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016  The American College of Medical ... Show Executive Magazine as one of the fastest-growing trade ... 25-27 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas ... highest percentage of growth in each of the following categories: ... companies and number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... , ... December 02, 2016 ... ... a consortium of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies dedicated to collaboratively developing improved ... interested in supplying a vendor-supported, portable online UHPLC, with robust, probe-based sampling. ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... The immunohistochemistry (IHC) market is projected ... of 7.3% during the forecast period of 2016 to 2021 dominated ... accounted for the largest share of immunohistochemistry (IHC) market, by end ... , , ... market spread across 225 pages, profiling 10 companies and supported with ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... today announced the appointment of Joshua F. Coleman , ... Dr. Coleman will oversee clinical content development and curation of ... software suite empowers molecular pathologists with a seamless workflow for ... from quality control through reporting. ... , , ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... RATON, Fla. , Nov. 30, 2016 ... biotherapeutic products, is pleased to announce the addition of ... Avenue Kearney, Nebraska . The 15,200 ... business on November 29th, 2016 and brings the total ... Ileana Carlisle , BPC,s Chief Executive ...
Breaking Biology Technology: