Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In Evolution Game, Survival Doesn’t Equal Success

11.06.2002


Finding has implications for future of biodiversity



A significant number of organisms that survived the five greatest mass extinctions in Earth’s history subsequently failed to achieve evolutionary success, according to a new study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and conducted by University of Chicago scientist David Jablonski.

"It’s clear that there is a lot of evolutionary action in the aftermath of mass extinctions," said Jablonski. "During the rebound from mass extinctions, it’s not an all-or-nothing thing. The shape of the post-extinction world comes not only from who goes extinct, but from which survivors are successful - or, instead, become extinct or marginalized in the aftermath."


Jablonski lays out his evidence in the June 11 issue of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was also supported by the Guggenheim Foundation.

"Because most extinction event survivor organisms rebound so robustly, paleontological studies are generally focused on these evolutionary winners," explains Richard Lane, director of NSF’s paleontology program. "Jablonski’s research examines why other groups of organisms weakly struggle through these major catastrophic events only to meet their demise somewhat later, geologically speaking."

To test the idea that many survivors go on to lose the evolutionary game, Jablonski turned to the paleontological literature and to his own work on the aftermath of mass extinction at the end of the Mesozoic Era. In a global analysis of marine genera, he determined how many lineages survived each of the largest mass extinctions in Earth’s history only to die off within the first five or 10 million years thereafter.

Patterns at higher levels of biological organization - for example, orders that include a large number of genera - often play out differently. However, Jablonski also found a 17 percent extinction rate for orders following three of the five big mass extinctions.

This result surprised Jablonski, who had assumed that survival of a mass extinction would be good news for most major groups. "It wasn’t good news for everybody, even at this level," he said.

These sets of doomed survivors are the last representatives of their clades, a technical term for an evolutionary group of organisms that includes an ancestor and all of its descendants. Jablonski creates a special category for them in his article, calling them "Dead Clade Walking," in homage to the 1995 film "Dead Man Walking," about a death-row inmate.

Paleontologists still poorly understand the process that sorts the winners from the losers after a major extinction, Jablonski said. His statistical analysis ruled out one of the most straightforward of possible causes - that lineages that have suffered a major blow to their numbers during a mass extinction might be especially extinction-prone in the aftermath because they contain fewer species to buffer against the hard times. Instead, Jablonski found that many of the biggest post-extinction winners had passed through a diversity bottleneck as narrow as the Dead Clade Walking groups.

Other possible causes include environmental change and increased competition between species. Both issues need further study, Jablonksi said, and there are probably examples of each in the fossil record.

Cheryl Dybas | National Science Foundation

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New switch decides between genome repair and death of cells
27.09.2016 | University of Cologne - Universität zu Köln

nachricht A blue stoplight to prevent runaway photosynthesis
27.09.2016 | National Institute for Basic Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development

28.09.2016 | Medical Engineering

Innovate coating extends the life of materials for industrial use

28.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Blockchain Set to Transform the Financial Services Market

28.09.2016 | Business and Finance

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>