Navigation Links
Paleontologists audition modern examples of ancient behavior

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
University of Cincinnati

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:
(Date:10/29/2015)... ANN ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... with Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... DNA to enable the preparation of NGS libraries ... in plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... NEW YORK , Oct. 27, 2015 ... the major issues of concern for various industry verticals ... This is due to the growing demand for secure ... practices in various ,sectors, such as hacking of bank ... concerns for electronic equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... LAS VEGAS , Oct. 26, 2015 ... in modern authentication and a founding member of the ... its latest version of the Nok Nok™ S3 Authentication ... standards-based authentication that supports existing and emerging methods of ... ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing applications that require Internet ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced ... 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel time, at ... 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, Tel Aviv, ... Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir to the Board of ... as external directors; , approval of an amendment to certain terms ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Twist Bioscience, a ... Emily Leproust, Ph.D., Twist Bioscience chief executive officer, ... Conference on December 1, 2015 at 3:10 p.m. ... York City. --> ... . Twist Bioscience is on Twitter. Sign up ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Switzerland (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... InSphero ... organotypic 3D cell culture models, has promoted Melanie Aregger to serve as Chief Operating ... Ms. Aregger served on the management team and was promoted to Head ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QC , Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic ... "Corporation") announced today that Mr. Pierre Laurin , President ... corporate presentation at the upcoming Piper Jaffray 27 th ... Palace Hotel, on December 1-2, 2015. st ... available for one-on-one meetings throughout the day. The presentation will ...
Breaking Biology Technology: