A few small steps for an ancient tetrapod, one huge step for science. Turns out that was some walk -- providing evidence that early reptiles were the first vertebrates able to live on dry river plains far from the sea. Meanwhile, their amphibian cousins were still hanging out “poolside,” needing the wetter environment to breed, lay their eggs and reproduce.
It has long been suspected by scientists that reptiles were the first to make the continental interiors their home. The new discovery of trackways proves this theory.
“This is a major evolutionary development -- allowing our ancestors to live on land without having to beetle back to the water to reproduce,” explains Martin Gibling, professor of Earth sciences at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a co-author of a paper just published in journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
By “our ancestors” Dr. Gibling clarifies: “Meaning vertebrates, from fish through amphibians to reptiles to birds, then through to us, mammals ... It’s a major step that allows larger animals to populate the land.”
The reptile trackways preserved in rock were literally stumbled upon by the paper’s lead author, Howard Falcon-Lang of Royal Holloway, University of London, who grazed his knee as he scrambled over the fossilized slab. The rock -- “about the size of a filing cabinet,” says Dr. Gibling -- had fallen out of a sea-cliff along the Bay of Fundy, near the town of St. Martins on New Brunswick’s southern coast.
The tracks are abundant and indicate a few different kinds of reptiles were there, including one with slender digits and a narrow splay and another with a much stubbier foot. Also recorded in the rock are the mud cracks of a dry riverbed, the pitter-patter of raindrops and various plants.
It was Arden Bashforth’s job to examine that plant. He determined there were big, seed-bearing trees nearby that would have lived in a dry landscape.
The paper’s publication caps off his time at Dalhousie nicely; he just defended his PhD thesis on paleoecology (the study of fossil organisms and their relationship to ancient environments) and is returning to Denmark where he just landed a job at a geological museum in Copenhagen.
Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
26.06.2017 | Life Sciences
26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.06.2017 | Information Technology