Navigation Links
Paleontologists audition modern examples of ancient behavior
Date:3/16/2011

Paleontologists agree that it's difficult to observe behavior in fossil specimens that are dead even extinct and petrified. One method is to find a modern, living, species that has some similarities to the ancient animal.

That's the strategy adopted by David L. Meyer, University of Cincinnati professor of geology and colleagues as they study a group of ancient shellfish known as brachiopods. Although they resemble clams or other shelled mollusks, brachiopods are more closely related to marine worms. Relatively rare today, brachiopods were a dominant species in Paleozoic seas.

In the fossil-rich rocks of the Cincinnati region, a group of brachiopods known as strophomenates are found fossilized surrounded by tiny "moats." It is believed that the brachiopods themselves made the moats, but it is not certain how they did so. Paleontologists think the animals needed to open their shells to a gape of more than 45 degrees to make the moats.

Meyer, along with Benjamin Dattilo of Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (a Ph.D. graduate of UC's geology program), and two students went looking for a modern analogue to the Paleozoic brachiopods. They found a tiny modern brachiopod named Thecidellina meyeri in the waters off Curaao in the southern Caribbean.

"It's a reasonably good analogue," Meyer said. "They gape widely, and the internal anatomy shows similar structures."

Meyer, Dattilo, and UC students Tanya Del Valle and Christine Rahtz collected a fragment of coral covered with more than 30 Thecidellina specimens, and placed it in a tank with running seawater in the lab in Curaao.

"They rapidly recovered," Meyer said, "resumed normal feeding behaviors, and maintained a 90-degree gape."

With video cameras recording, the paleontologists measured the ability of the modern brachiopods to move water around, generating relatively sluggish feeding currents and relatively strong currents when they snapped their shells shut.

Sometimes, the brachiopods would snap shut, stay shut, and then slowly open. At other times, they would open partially and shut several times in rapid succession.

The behavior of the modern animals provides a clue to ancient behaviors.

"By analogy," Meyer said, "feeding currents of the ancient brachiopods were too weak to disturb sediments, allowing them to feed close to the sea floor."


'/>"/>

Contact: Greg Hand
greg.hand@uc.edu
513-556-1822
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Paleontologists find extinction rates higher in open-ocean settings during mass extinctions
2. Paleontologists doubt dinosaur dance floor
3. Ancient teeth raise new questions about the origins of modern man
4. 40-year-old test procedure finds modern niche in developing new medicines
5. The brains of Neanderthals and modern humans developed differently
6. Modern humans emerged far earlier than previously thought
7. Scripps Research study challenges conventional theory of modern drug design
8. New book reviews ancient and modern worlds of RNA
9. Cactus genes connect modern Mexico to its prehistoric past
10. Irish hares fall foul of modern farming trap
11. Prehistoric fish extinction paved the way for modern vertebrates
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/12/2017)...  Trovagene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV ), a ... that it has signed agreements with seven strategic partners ... Middle East for commercialization of the ... wave of international distribution agreements for Trovagene,s CLIA based ... The initial partners will introduce Trovagene,s liquid biopsy ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... -- Michael Johnson, co-founder of Visikol Inc. a company originally funded with ... to the elite "Forbes 30 Under 30" list in the Science ... 20 fields nationwide to be recognized as a leader in business ... ... a PhD candidate at Rutgers University. Visikol ...
(Date:1/4/2017)... thousands of attendees at this year,s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), ... devices and services, will be featuring its new line of ULTRA CONNECT ... special CES Exhibit Suite , the new upper arm and wrist smart ... product platform.  Continue Reading ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... ... Research show early promise of the investigational anti-cancer agent tucatinib (formerly ONT-380) against ... previous treatment regimens. Twenty-seven percent of these heavily pretreated patients saw clinical benefit ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... , ... January 11, 2017 , ... ... year and costing healthcare systems more than $23.7 billion, healthcare systems are ... , Among the most common sepsis-causing pathogens are bacteria and the yeast ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Symbios Technologies, Inc., a ... Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Symbios a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) ... the Symbios Tubular Plasma Reactor™ (TPR™) by scaling the system for first customer ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... 11, 2017  GenVec, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... today that its chief scientific officer, Douglas ...  "AdenoVerse™ platform for translational development of innovative gene ... the upcoming Phacilitate Cell & Gene Therapy World ... Florida.  Dr. Brough,s presentation will highlight the utility ...
Breaking Biology Technology: