Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Innovative study clarifies evolutionary history of early complex single-celled organisms

29.03.2004


A billion years ago (the Neoproterozoic age), complex single-celled organisms, the acritarchs, began to develop, grow, and thrive. Almost a billion years later, the study of the evolutionary history of acritarchs began to bog down amid inconsistencies in the reporting of the diversity of species. Now, a Virginia Tech graduate student has devised a new way to study the ebb and flow of life in the Neoproterozoic and Early Cambrian ages, a period that includes two mass extinctions.



John Warren Huntley of Asheville, N.C., a PhD. student in geosciences, will report on his strategy and results at the joint meeting of the Northeastern and Southeastern Sections of the Geological Society of America, to be held March 25-27 in Tysons Corner, Va.

"The evolutionary history of acritarchs reported in the literature has been based on the number of species," explains Huntley. "But there have been many workers collecting information and there is variation among these researchers on what is considered a species. This variation among workers could alter our understanding of what actually happened."


The strategy of a group of geoscientists at Virginia Tech is to use the quantitative data reported in the scientific literature to look at size and morphological complexity of specimens collected. So far, they have examined acritarch data spanning more than 700 million years – from 1270-million-year-old rocks deposited long before Neoproterozoic ice ages, to Early Cambrian successions rocks deposited during the explosive evolution of early animals.

"Our preliminary results seem to confirm previous anecdotal evidence," says Huntley. "We’re finding that complexity increases through time, which is to be expected." However, complexity leveled off. "It appears that morphological complexity may have remained steady at high values, even when species diversity was fluctuating greatly," Huntley says.

As to size, there was a steady increase in size for at least 500 million years, until the Ediacaran extinction, after which acritarchs remained very small compared to their pre-Ediacaran extinction size. "There had been anecdotal observations of the size change, which we have now quantified," Huntley says.

Huntley will present the paper, "Secular patterns in morphological disparity and body size of acritarchs through the Neoproterozoic and early Cambrian" (47-2) at 1:20 p.m. Friday, March 26, as part of the session on Pre-Cenozoic Paleontology in the Gunston A room at the Hilton McLean-Tysons Corner hotel. Co-authors are Virginia Tech geosciences professors Shuhai Xiao and Michal Kowalewski.

The trio began their study of acritarchs last October. "It is interesting to use novel techniques to study early life and this is a good opportunity to increase my knowledge in this important area, " says Huntley, who has been studying mollusk evolution.

Huntley received his bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University and his master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.


Contact for more information:
John Warren Huntley, 540-231-1913 or jhuntley@vt.edu
Michal Kowalewski (Huntley’s major professor) michalk@vt.edu 540-231-5951
Shuhai Xiao, xiao@vt.edu, 540-231-1366

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.technews.vt.edu/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Colorado River's connection with the ocean was a punctuated affair
16.11.2017 | University of Oregon

nachricht Researchers create largest, longest multiphysics earthquake simulation to date
14.11.2017 | Gauss Centre for Supercomputing

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>