Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Honeybees defy dino-killing ’nuclear winter’

05.11.2004


The humble tropical honeybee may challenge the idea that a post-asteroid impact "nuclear winter" was a big player in the decimation of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.



Somehow the tropical honeybee, Cretotrigona prisca, survived the end-Cretaceous extinction event, despite what many researchers believe was a years-long period of darkness and frigid temperatures caused by sunlight-blocking dust and smoke from the asteroid impact at Chicxulub.

The survival of C. prisca is problematic and telling, asserts paleontology graduate student Jacqueline M. Kozisek of the University of New Orleans. Late Cretaceous tropical honeybees preserved in amber are almost identical to their modern relatives, she says. If no modern tropical honeybee could have survived years in the dark and cold without the flowering plants they lived off of, Kozisek reasoned, something must be amiss with the nuclear winter theory. "It couldn’t have been that huge," says Kozisek of the Chicxulub-related temperature drops asserted by other researchers.


Kozisek will present her work on Monday, 8 Nov., at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Denver. Modern tropical honeybees have an optimal temperature range of 88 to 93 degrees F (31-34°C) in order to maintain vital metabolic activities, according to entomological research, says Kozisek. That’s also the range that’s best for their food source: nectar-rich flowering plants.

Based on what is known about the Cretaceous climate and modern tropical honeybees, Kozisek estimates that any post-impact winter event could not have dropped temperatures more than 4 to 13 degrees F (2-7°C) without wiping out the bees. Current nuclear winter theories from the Chicxulub impact estimate drops of 13 to 22 degrees F (7-12°C) – too cold for tropical honeybees. "I’m not trying to say an asteroid impact didn’t happen," says Kozisek. "I’m just trying to narrow down the effects."

To do this, Kozisek took a novel approach for a paleontologist – instead of looking at what died out, she dug through the literature to find out what survived the massive extinction event. "I made a list of all survivors and picked those with strict survival requirements," said Kozisek. She determined that those survival requirements were by calling on studies of the closest modern analogues -- which wasn’t always easy for some species, she pointed out. There was, for instance, a very early primate that crawled out of the Cretaceous alive, but there is really no comparable small primate around today with which to reliably compare, she said.

On the other hand, a good number of tropical honeybees haven’t changed a lot in 65 million years and a great deal is known about modern tropical honey bees’ tolerances to heat and cold. What’s more, amber-preserved specimens of the oldest tropical honey bee, Cretotrigona prisca, are almost indistinguishable from – and are probably the ancestors of – some modern tropical honeybees like Dactylurina, according to other studies cited by Kozisek.

Survival and Its Implications: Tropical Honeybees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponini) and the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary Monday, 8 November, 10:30-10:45 a.m., CCC 605 Abstract may be viewed at: http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2004AM/finalprogram/abstract_80171.htm.

Ann Cairns | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.geosociety.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Geophysicists and atmospheric scientists partner to track typhoons' seismic footprints
16.02.2018 | Princeton University

nachricht NASA finds strongest storms in weakening Tropical Cyclone Sanba
15.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>