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
Seeing on the Quick: New Insights into Active Vision in the Brain
15.08.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
New Approach to Treating Chronic Itch
15.08.2018 | Universität Zürich
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
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...
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....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur
What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences
15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy