Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Analysis Finds Strong Compatibility Between Molecular, Fossil Data in Evolutionary Studies

30.04.2009
Paleontologists have completed a rigorous study that has culminated in a new approach to reconciling the conflict between fossil and molecular data in evolutionary studies.

During a seminar at another institution several years ago, University of Chicago paleontologist David Jablonski fielded a hostile question: Why bother classifying organisms according to their physical appearance, let alone analyze their evolutionary dynamics, when molecular techniques had already invalidated that approach?

With more than a few heads in the audience nodding their agreement, Jablonski, the William Kenan Jr. Professor in Geophysical Sciences, saw more work to be done. The question launched him on a rigorous study that has culminated in a new approach to reconciling the conflict between fossil and molecular data in evolutionary studies.

For more than two decades, debate has waxed and waned between biologists and paleontologists about the reliability of their different methods. Until now, attention has focused on the dramatically different evolutionary history of certain lineages as determined by fossils or by genetics.

Scientists using molecular techniques assert that genetics more accurately determines evolutionary relationships than does a comparison of physical characteristics preserved in fossils. But how inaccurate, really, were the fossils? Jablonski and the University of Michigan’s John A. Finarelli have published the first quantitative assessment of these assumed discrepancies in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They compared the molecular data to data based on the kinds of features used to distinguish fossil lineages for 228 mammal and 197 mollusk lineages at the genus level (both wolves and dogs belong to the genus Canis, for example).

No matter how they looked at it, the lineages defined by their fossil forms “showed an imperfect but very good fit to the molecular data,” Jablonski said. The fits were generally far better than random. The few exceptions included freshwater clams, “a complete disaster,” he said.

Jablonski and Finarelli (Ph.D.’07, University of Chicago), then decided to push their luck. They looked at the fits again, but this time focused on geographic range and body size. The result: a “spectacularly robust” match between the fossil and molecular data.

Jablonski interprets the results as good news for evolutionary studies. The work backs up a huge range of analyses among living and fossil animals, from trends in increasing body size in mammal lineages, to the dramatic ups and downs of diversity reported in the fossil record of evolutionary bursts and mass extinctions.

“Our study also points the way toward new partnerships with molecular biology, as we straighten out the mismatches that we did find,” he said.

Steve Koppes | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uchicago.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>