Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Investigating the Liliput effect with computer tomography

03.08.2018

The extinction of the dinosaurs was not the first clear indication that changes in the environment and the climate have considerable effects on the biosphere. Smaller organisms, for example belemnites, similar to the squid of today, reacted to climate change in a somewhat less spectacular manner – namely by decreasing in size. Investigating the interactions which led to the so-called Liliput effect is a complex task, requiring innovative approaches.

In a pilot study, palaeobiologists from the GeoZentrum Nordbayern at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now succeeded in revolutionising methods for determining the size of cephalopods using computer tomography and measuring their internal length, proving for the first time that they did decrease in size.


Crises in the history of Earth such as climate change and a lack of oxygen are often linked to extinction events, but they also have other repercussions, such as a decrease in the size of living organisms. So far, belemnites have rarely been investigated in this context.

Belemnites are celaphopods which were widespread 182 million years ago in the Mesozoic Era and were commonly preyed on by marine reptiles. FAU scientists Dr. Kenneth De Baets and Patricia Rita as well as the Bachelor’s student Martina Schlott investigated the size of belemnites in two Toarcian accumulations, referred to as battlefields.

Belemnite battlefields in Franconia

For the study, at least 70 belemnites were gathered from the sites near Buttenheim and Forth in South Germany, before being measured and the results analysed and compared to track any changes happening as time progressed.

The results allowed the team of scientists to prove for the first time that the cone-shaped, cylindrical skeleton of the belemnites, also referred to as the rostrum, decreased in size between the Early Toarcium 182 million years ago and the Middle Toarcium 178 million yeas ago. Possible causes are increasing temperatures and a decrease in oxygen levels in the sea, but these hypotheses still have to be examined in more detail.

New, innovative measuring method

The scientists took a new approach for measuring their samples, using a CT scanner at the GeoZentrum combined with an innovative measuring method. ‘My staff painstakingly measured one belemnite after another in the CT scanner and created reconstructions of them using special software,’ explains Dr. De Baets. Whereas previous studies have focussed on measuring the width and height and maximum diameter of the belemnites, this time the team decided to use the internal length as an accurate indication of their size. This goes from the initial chamber or siphon to the apex.

According to project leader Dr. De Baets, the benefits of the new method are that ‘using computer tomography, it is possible to measure the volume of the rostra without destroying the fossil, and an archive of 3D images can be built up over time.’

The researchers now want to extend their investigations, conducted within the scope of the DFG research group ‘Temperature-related stresses as a unifying principle in ancient extinctions’, to cover other time periods and locations. The next step involves measuring more than 1,000 belemnites from various sites within Europe and fitting the results together like tiles in a mosaic to give an overall picture.

Work is also being done on achieving a higher resolution of the computer tomographic measurements in order to allow further, more detailed results to be obtained. The study is intended to contribute to a better understanding of global climate change by investigating the history of life.

The research findings have been published in the journal Fossil Record under the title ‘Rostrum size differences between Toarcian belemnite battlefields’ (DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/fr-21-171-2018)

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Further information:
Dr. Kenneth De Baets
Phone: +49 9131 8522906
kenneth.debaets@fau.de

Dr. Susanne Langer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.fau.de/

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>