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:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016  A new partnership announced ... accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction of the ... priced and high-value life insurance policies to consumers ... With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine ... readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, and activity ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a new ... higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health ... mass index, and, when they opt in, share them ... to a local retail location at no cost. By ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... Florida , March 29, 2016 ... the "Company") LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased ... in ink used in a variety of writing instruments, ... Buyers of originally created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange ... forensic analysis of the DNA. Bill ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Founder of the ... in surgery and surgery of the hand by the National Board of Physicians ... going above and beyond in his pursuit of providing the most comprehensive, effective ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... WEDI, the nation’s leading authority ... announced that Charles W. Stellar has been named by the WEDI Board of Directors ... 2016. As an executive leader with more than 35 years of experience in healthcare, ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... attacks, diabetes, and traumatic injuries, will be accelerated by research at Worcester Polytechnic ... into engines of wound healing and tissue regeneration. , The novel method, developed ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... Media Cybernetics, global ... Media Cybernetics corporate branding reflects a results-driven revitalization for a company with a ... re-branding components include a crisp, refreshed logo and a new web presence. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: