Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Is being big clam on the block a factor in species success?

25.10.2002


Body size is one of the most important biological characteristics in the study of organisms, telling a researcher a lot about how a particular animal lives and interacts with it’s environment and with other species. Despite this importance, there has been little study of body size trends of ancient life.



Now, using marine life forms as models, three Virginia Tech doctoral students in geological sciences have launched a long-term research project to see what can be learned about life across millions of years. At the Geological Society of America’s 114th annual meeting in Denver, Oct. 27-30, Richard Krause Jr. will present early findings from his, Jennifer Stempien’s, and Susan Barbour Wood’s work.

So far, findings suggest that body size may not be directly related to evolutionary or ecological success.


The trio focused initially on bivalves and brachiopods. Bivalves, which include clams, mussels, and scallops, and brachiopods, which appear similar to clams but have a fundamentally different anatomy, are easily compared because "there is a really good fossil record for both groups," says Krause.

The scope of the project is huge. The researchers want to measure what has happened all over the world and over millions of years. "Obviously we can’t go out and collect fossils from each age and area," says Krause. So they are using photographs that accompany published research. This way they can look at and measure shells from many different time periods all over the world.

The research is already yielding some promising results. The students report that early in the history of life, size of the organisms from these groups was increasing along with diversity, which has not been previously documented. "Most interesting, as diversity begins to drop at the end of the Ordovician period, during a major extinction interval (440 million years ago), the overall size of the organisms of both groups was unchanged. The extinction itself wasn’t size selective," says Krause.

Another interesting point that Krause will focus on at the GSA meeting is the changing places of bivalves and brachiopods. "What we are finding is that from the early Ordovician to the Silurian, or between 500 million and 400 million years ago, bivalves were considerably bigger than brachiopods," says Krause. This is very similar to the present-day situation for these groups. Bivalves living in the oceans today are, on average, significantly larger than modern brachiopods.

But, while their size differences haven’t changed much, these groups have done a major switch ecologically over the last 400 million years. Brachiopods were very diverse and successful in the Ordovician and Silurian, while bivalves were somewhat rare in many environments. The situation is exactly reversed in modern oceans, says Krause.

"This seems to say that diversity and evolutionary success may not have anything to do with how big an organism is. In this case, the culprit is likely the fact that bivalves’ metabolism is higher. They are more active. That may be what is controlling size, rather than environment," says Krause. "The fact that this size difference seems to have not changed in the last 400 million years despite major ecological changes is really interesting, and a bit unexpected."

Krause will present the paper, "Differences in size of early Paleozoic bivalves and brachiopods: The influence of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on body size evolution," at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27 in Room A108/110 at the Colorado Convention Center. Co-authors are Stempien, Virginia Tech geological sciences professor Michal Kowalewski, and Arnold I. Miller at the University of Cincinnati.


Contact information: Richard Krause. rkrause@vt.edu. 540-231-1840

Richard Krause’s major professor is Michal Kowalewski.

PR Contact: Susan Trulove, strulove@vt.edu, 540-231-5646.

Richard Krause | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.technews.vt.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A study demonstrates that p38 protein regulates the formation of new blood vessels
17.07.2019 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking down climate change with radar eyes

17.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

Researchers build transistor-like gate for quantum information processing -- with qudits

17.07.2019 | Information Technology

A new material for the battery of the future, made in UCLouvain

17.07.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>