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

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>