Navigation Links
A new view of fossils: The behavior of ancient life forms
Date:6/15/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. A new book by researchers at Oregon State University uses the snapshot-in-time miracle of amber to offer a pioneering viewpoint on all types of animal and plant fossils not just what ancient life forms looked like, but how they functioned and behaved, especially at the moment of death.

All kinds of behavior, ranging from the nurturing protection of a mother, mating and reproductive instincts, to the behavior of pathogenic microbes can be observed in extinct life that's millions of years old, and was captured in oozing tree sap that later turned into the semi-precious stone amber. Other fossils besides amber, including those preserved in sedimentary rock deposits, were also used in the compilation.

The range of evidence, the researchers said, suggests a different view of evolution that most behavior appears to be retained, and when it doesn't serve the long-term survival of the species, extinction occurs.

"What we're really seeing in these looks back in time is that the behavior makes the organism," said George Poinar, a zoologist at OSU and one of the world's leading experts in the study of life forms found in amber.

"Through fossils we can trace behaviors back many millions of years, and it appears they tend to persist, that primeval forms of behavior never really change," Poinar said. "Species may evolve physically, but behavioral changes are much less obvious and many species will go extinct because they cannot change the way they act."

The book, "Fossil Behavior Compendium," was written by Poinar and Arthur Boucot, a distinguished professor emeritus of zoology at OSU and expert on evolution, paleobiology and behavior of ancient life forms. Published by CRC Press, it is written for a general audience.

In one amber fossil, a 100-million-year-old gecko shows the same sophisticated method of toe adhesion that allows it to walk easily on vertical and even inverted surfaces a capability that served it well when it was skittering away from dinosaurs then, or is skipping through the jungles of Southeast Asia today.

The researchers track numerous types of behaviors and capabilities, from parasites that cause disease, to insects that use camouflage for defense and bugs that quickly lay eggs just before dying in amber.

Although not preserved in amber, they also consider human behavior, and observe that "from what we know of basic human behaviors, it is clear there has been no significant change since the beginnings of recorded history." This is found in sexual behavior and other instincts, including aggression. From records of Neanderthal skull injuries presumably caused by their companions, the book notes evidence that "violence using weapons by hominids against members of their own species is hard wired."

Poinar also noted that a current illustration of the power of behavior may be provided soon in the Gulf of Mexico. Marine turtles will come into the Gulf to deposit their eggs on traditional beaches, even though they can detect oil in the water and there's a risk of at least localized extinction of some populations.

"There is much more to be learned from the study of fossils than just their structure," Poinar said. "Looked at in a new way, we can learn about the behavioral patterns of extinct organisms, often relate them to those of species still alive today, and provide a very different dimension to our study of the past."


'/>"/>

Contact: George Poinar
poinarg@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-5366
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Apple juice improves behavior but not cognition in Alzheimers patients
2. Frontal cortex dysfunction may contribute to compulsive sexual behavior
3. UIC psychologist aims to reduce risky sexual behavior among African American girls
4. Video study finds risky food-safety behavior more common than thought
5. Adolescent brains biologically wired to engage in risky behavior, study finds
6. Impulsive Behavior, Drinking Decline in Early Adulthood
7. How Your Behavior Will Affect Your Career?
8. Study finds law-like patterns in human preference behavior
9. Scientists discover the molecular heart of collective behavior
10. Behavior therapy effective in reducing tics in children with Tourette syndrome, study finds
11. Self-directed behavioral IBS treatment rapidly relieves even the most severe symptoms
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... Milwaukee, WI (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... movement in medicine known as “patient engagement.” The patient is doing more than filling ... research partners. , “There is an increasing emphasis in health care and research ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... The International Association of ... of excellence for the field of eating disorders, announces the opening of early ... in Orlando, Florida at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate. , The ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... , ... Lori R. Somekh, founder of the Law Office of Somekh ... law and special needs planning attorneys. “Membership in ElderCounsel helps our office remain up ... network with elder law attorneys nationwide,” said Somekh. , ElderCounsel was ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Somerset ... of specialty vendors and unique items from across the nation, this holiday-themed event will ... services offered by the VNA. The boutique will be open Saturday, November 4 ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, ... week that explains one of the most popular and least understood books in the ... cryptic and puzzling descriptions that have baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/25/2017)... 25, 2017   Montrium , an industry ... today—from the IQPC Trial Master Files & Inspection ... that EastHORN Clinical Services has selected eTMF ... TMF management. EastHORN, a leading European contract research ... increase transparency to enable greater collaboration with sponsors, ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... , Sept. 19, 2017 HistoSonics, Inc., a venture-backed medical device company developing ... of targeted tissues, announced three leadership team developments today:   ... ... ... Veteran medical device executive Josh Stopek ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... Sept. 12, 2017   EcoVadis , the leading platform for environmental, ... first annual edition of its Global CSR Risk and Performance Index. The ... EcoVadis, based on Scorecard Ratings that analyzed nearly 800,000 data points across ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: