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
Closing in on advanced prostate cancer
13.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin
13.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2017 | Life Sciences