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:1/4/2017)... , Jan. 4, 2017  CES 2017 – ... biometric sensor technology, today announced the launch of ... sensor systems, the highly-accurate biometric sensor modules that ... biometric technology, experience and expertise. The two new ... designed specifically for hearables, and Benchmark BW2.0, a ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... The rising popularity of mobility services ... stoking significant interest in keyless access systems. Following ... energy (BLE), biometrics and near-field communication (NFC) are ... wireless technologies in the automotive industry. This evolution ... systems opens the market to specialist companies such ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Biometric ... to their offering. ... The biometric vehicle access system market, in terms of value, ... to 2021. The market is estimated to be USD 442.7 Million ... The growth of the biometric vehicle access system market is fueled ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)... , Jan. 18, 2017   Boston Biomedical ... compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, will feature ... compound, napabucasin, at the 2017 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, ... . Napabucasin is an orally-administered ... targeting STAT3. i Cancer stem cells (CSCs) possess ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... Total ... successfully implanted SpineFrontier’s A-CIFT™ Solofuse-P™. The operation took place on Wednesday, January 11, ... The procedure was an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion on a 42 year ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... , ... Researchers from a new study are stating that if levels of the ... treatment, this indicates there is still remaining prostate cancer cells that are more likely to ... has always been an indicator of whether a man’s prostate cancer is growing or ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... Thirty-six startup companies in University City ... Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in 2016 as part of the Keystone ... University City Keystone Innovation Zone and represent the highest number of awards to the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: