Navigation Links
'Terror bird' arrived in North America before land bridge, study finds

A University of Florida-led study has determined that Titanis walleri, a prehistoric 7-foot-tall flightless "terror bird," arrived in North America from South America long before a land bridge connected the two continents.

UF paleontologist Bruce MacFadden said his team used an established geochemical technique that analyzes rare earth elements in a new application to revise the ages of terror bird fossils in Texas and Florida, the only places in North America where the species has been found. Rare earth elements are a group of naturally occurring metallic elements that share similar chemical and physical properties.

"It was previously thought that Titanis immigrated to Texas across the Panamanian land bridge that formed about 3 million years ago connecting North and South America," said MacFadden, a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF. "But the rare earth element analysis of a fossil Titanis bone from Texas determines its age to be 5 million years old. This shows that the bird arrived 2 million years before the land bridge formed, probably across islands that formed what today is the Isthmus of Panama."

The study will be published Jan. 23 in the online version of the journal Geology and featured in its February print edition.

The terror bird was carnivorous, weighed about 330 pounds, had powerful feet and a head larger than a man's. It is known in the fossil record from a single toe bone in Texas, and in Florida by about 40 bone fragments from different skeletal regions. MacFadden's team also analyzed six specimens from the Santa Fe River in north Central Florida.

"We found that the Titanis fossils were 2 million years old and not 10,000 years old as had been suggested," MacFadden said. "This also shows the last known occurrence of Titanis in the fossil record and reflects its extinction."

When an animal dies, its porous bones absorb groundwater as they fossilize. As the local groundwater conditions change, the rare earth elements' concentrations change, resulting in a unique chemical signature.

"We used rare earth elements because they're highly specific to certain time periods and different groundwater conditions," MacFadden said. "This is the first time that the uptake of rare earth elements during the early stage of fossilization has been used to determine the age of fossils in North America."

Geologists have used the technique to study igneous and metamorphic rocks, but only one other researcher worldwide has applied this technique to date the age of fossils: professor Clive Trueman from the University of Southampton in England.

"It is very difficult to assess the age of fossil bones directly as they are too old to be carbon dated," Trueman wrote in an e-mail. "Bones can also be moved after death, further confusing their true age. MacFadden's approach compares bones of disputed age with those of known age. If the chemistry matches, the bones are of the same age irrespective of their final resting place."

David Gradstaff, a professor and chairman of the geology department at Temple University, said the technique is timely and important.

"If a fossil gets moved or reworked from its place of formation, it will have a fingerprint that is different from the others nearby," Grandstaff said. "Who knew that all these fossils essentially have a tag that says 'hey, I'm from over here!' "


'"/>

Source:University of Florida


Related biology news :

1. Alaskan puzzles, monitoring provide insight about North Pacific salmon runs
2. No relief for Pacific Northwest drought
3. Survey finds silver contamination in North Pacific waters
4. First North American Encapsulated Islet Transplant without Long-term Immune Suppression into a Patient with Type 1 Diabetes
5. Habitat use by North Pacific right whales, Eubalaena japonica, in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska
6. Red delicious, Northern Spy apples have most antioxidants, chemists find
7. FSU scientist warns North Atlantic right whale facing extinction
8. Proposal would allow wild animals to roam North America
9. North & South American researchers find architectural abnormalities in T. cruzi ribosome
10. Drug resistant avian influenza viruses more common in Southeast Asia than North America
11. Skin disease common among Hispanic farmworkers in North Carolina, research shows
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/28/2017)... 28, 2017   Acuant , a leading provider ... significant enhancements to new and core technologies building upon ... include mobile and desktop Acuant FRM TM facial ... a real time manual review of identity documents by ... the fastest and most accurate capture software to streamline ...
(Date:2/28/2017)...  EyeLock LLC, ein marktführendes Unternehmen im Bereich ... Lösung zur Iris-Erkennung auf der neuesten Mobilplattform ... dem Mobile World Congress 2017 (27. Februar ... 3, Stand 3E10, vorstellen. Der ... – eine Kombination aus Hardware, Software und ...
(Date:2/26/2017)... Feb. 25, 2017  Securus Technologies, a leading ... for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, announces ... Reentry. "Too often, too many offenders ... county jails are trying to tackle this ongoing ... friends and family members. While significant steps are underway, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... Advanced Polymer Monitoring ... of Dr. Sigmund “Sig” Floyd as Vice President ? Global Business Development. Dr. ... activities. , “Dr. Floyd’s career has spanned 30 years in the chemicals and ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017 Good Start ... it has eclipsed the 130 million covered lives mark ... Shield of Texas . With newly ... Company continues to enjoy strong payor acceptance based on ... clinical programs and genetic counseling, its industry-leading customer care ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... 2017 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT announced a seed stage ... a start-up created by FACIT focused on developing ... combined with non-dilutive capital, achieves a targeted $3.0M ... enables Propellon to accelerate the nomination of a ... and/or entering a strategic partnership for clinical trials ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Linda, Ca (PRWEB) , ... March 21, 2017 ... ... and clearance of biologics. To acquire information on the desired increase and/or decrease ... the biopharmaceutical industry for rapid N-glycosylation profiling of therapeutic antibodies. , To ...
Breaking Biology Technology: