Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sulphor feeds “living fossils” in the deep sea

25.02.2015

Göttingen palaeontologist analyses origin and evolution of animals living at hydrothermal vents

Most life on Earth depends on food produced through photosynthesis by plants or marine plankton. In contrast, animals at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and methane seeps live in symbiosis with sulphur-oxidising bacteria. In other words, they get their nutrition from bacteria that use sulphur as an energy source to produce biomass.


Clams of a fossil methane seep

University of Göttingen

Dr. Steffen Kiel, palaeontologist from the University of Göttingen, has analysed the fossil record of these ecosystems in the past 150 million years. He suggests that the evolution of these animals is linked to the amount of sulphur dissolved in the oceans and is independent from that of the photosynthesis-based biosphere. His results back the thesis of these animals as “living fossils”. The findings were published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Dr. Kiel analysed the fossil record of thousands of these faunas. The palaeontologist found that the major changes in their evolutionary history coincide with major changes in the concentration of sulphur in the oceans. Furthermore, during the later half of the Cretaceous age, when sulphur concentrations in the oceans were particularly low, the average size of clams and snails was smaller than during other times.

“These animals rely on their sulphur-oxidizing symbionts for food,” explains Dr. Kiel. “Thus, when there is only little sulphur to feed to the symbionts, they can’t grow very big.”

The concentration of sulphur in the oceans is largely controlled by the accumulation and erosion of calcium sulphate, better known as gypsum. It forms along with other salts when seawater evaporates and returns to the oceans when these salts are eroded during the formation of major mountain chains. “Photosynthesis plays no role in this” says Dr. Kiel.

“While the dinosaurs and the ammonites did not survive the lack of food as a result of crises in the photosynthesis-based food chain, for example following a meteorite impact, the clams and snails at deep-sea methane seeps lived safely in their smelly habitats.”

Original publication:
Kiel, Steffen (2015). Did shifting seawater sulfate concentrations drive the evolution of deep-sea methane-seep ecosystems?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 20142908. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.2908

Contact adress:
PD Dr. Steffen Kiel
University of Göttingen
Geoscience Centre Göttingen – Department of Geobiology
Goldschmidtstraße 3-5, 37077 Göttingen
Phone +49 (551) 39-10954
E-Mail: skiel@uni-goettingen.de
Website: www.geobiologie.uni-goettingen.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.2908
http://www.geobiologie.uni-goettingen.de

Romas Bielke | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>