ResearchPad - cenozoic-era https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Unravelling the mystery of “Madagascar copal”: Age, origin and preservation of a Recent resin]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15728 The loss of biodiversity during the Anthropocene is a constant topic of discussion, especially in the top biodiversity hotspots, such as Madagascar. In this regard, the study of preserved organisms through time, like those included in "Madagascar copal", is of relevance. “Madagascar copal" originated from the leguminous tree Hymenaea verrucosa, which produced and produces resin abundantly. In the last 20 years, interest has focused on the scientific study of its biological inclusions, mainly arthropods, described in dozens of publications. The age and origin of the deposits of "Madagascar copal" have not yet been resolved. Our objectives are to determine its age and geographical origin, and thus increase its scientific value as a source of biological/palaeobiological information. Although Hymenaea was established in Madagascar during the Miocene, we did not find geological deposits of copal or amber in the island. It is plausible that the evolution of those deposits was negatively conditioned by the type of soil, by the climate, and by the development of soil/litter microorganisms, which inhibit preservation of the resin pieces in the litter and subsoil over 300 years. Our results indicate that "Madagascar copal" is a Recent resin, up to a few hundred years old, that originated from Hymenaea trees growing in the lowland coastal forests, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The included and preserved biota is representative of that ecosystem today and during historical times. Inclusions in this Recent resin do not have the palaeontological significance that has been mistakenly attributed to them, but they do have relevant implications for studies regarding Anthropocene biodiversity loss in this hottest hotspot.

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<![CDATA[Comparisons of Schansitherium tafeli with Samotherium boissieri (Giraffidae, Mammalia) from the Late Miocene of Gansu Province, China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c7573d5eed0c4843cfdbf

We are describing and figuring for the first time skulls of Schansitherium tafeli, which are abundant in the Gansu area of China from the Late Miocene. They were animals about the size of Samotherium with shorter necks that had two pairs of ossicones that merge at the base, which is unlike Samotherium. The anterior ossicones consist of anterior lineations, which may represent growth lines. They were likely mixed feeders similar to Samotherium. Schansitherium is tentatively placed in a very close position to Samotherium. Samotherium and Schansitherium represent a pair of morphologically very similar species that likely coexisted similarly to pairs of modern species, where the main difference is in the ossicones. Pairs of ruminants in Africa, for example, exist today that differ mostly in their horn shape but otherwise are similar in size, shape, and diet. The absence of Schansitherium from Europe is interesting, however, as Samotherium is found in both locations. While is it challenging to interpret neck length and ossicone shape in terms of function in combat, we offer our hypothesis as to how the two species differed in their fighting techniques.

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<![CDATA[Stomach contents of the archaeocete Basilosaurus isis: Apex predator in oceans of the late Eocene]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa556d5eed0c484ca331a

Apex predators live at the top of an ecological pyramid, preying on animals in the pyramid below and normally immune from predation themselves. Apex predators are often, but not always, the largest animals of their kind. The living killer whale Orcinus orca is an apex predator in modern world oceans. Here we focus on an earlier apex predator, the late Eocene archaeocete Basilosaurus isis from Wadi Al Hitan in Egypt, and show from stomach contents that it fed on smaller whales (juvenile Dorudon atrox) and large fishes (Pycnodus mokattamensis). Our observations, the first direct evidence of diet in Basilosaurus isis, confirm a predator-prey relationship of the two most frequently found fossil whales in Wadi Al-Hitan, B. isis and D. atrox. This extends our understanding of their paleoecology. Late Eocene Basilosaurus isis, late Miocene Livyatan melvillei, and modern Orcinus orca are three marine apex predators known from relatively short intervals of time. Little is known about whales as apex predators through much of the Cenozoic era, and whales as apex predators deserve more attention than they have received.

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<![CDATA[The role of Pleistocene climate change in the genetic variability, distribution and demography of Proechimys cuvieri and P. guyannensis (Rodentia: Echimyidae) in northeastern Amazonia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c215141d5eed0c4843f95f9

The spiny rats, genus Proechimys, have the highest species richness within the Echimyidae family, as well as species with high genetic variability. The genus distribution includes tropical South America and Central America south to Honduras. In this study, we evaluate the phylogeographic histories of Proechimys guyannensis and P. cuvieri using cytochrome b, in a densely sampled area in northeastern Amazon where both species are found in sympatry in different environments. For each species, Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood phylogenetic analysis were congruent and recovered similar clades in the studied area. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis using a relaxed molecular clock showed that these clusters of haplotypes diversified during Pleistocene for both species. Apparently, the large rivers of the region did not act as barriers, as some clades include specimens collected from opposite banks of Oiapoque, Araguari and Jari rivers. Bayesian skyline plot analysis showed recent demographic expansion in both species. The Pleistocene climatic changes in concert with the geologic changes in the Amazon fan probably acted as drivers in the diversification that we detected in these two spiny rats. Proechimys cuvieri and P. guyannensis show genetic structure in the eastern part of the Guiana region. Greater genetic distances observed in P. guyannensis, associated with highly structured groups, suggest that more detailed studies of systematics and ecology should be directed to this species.

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<![CDATA[Revision of Varanus marathonensis (Squamata, Varanidae) based on historical and new material: morphology, systematics, and paleobiogeography of the European monitor lizards]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c117b75d5eed0c4846994b2

Monitor lizards (genus Varanus) inhabited Europe at least from the early Miocene to the Pleistocene. Their fossil record is limited to about 40 localities that have provided mostly isolated vertebrae. Due to the poor diagnostic value of these fossils, it was recently claimed that all the European species described prior to the 21st century are not taxonomically valid and a new species, Varanus amnhophilis, was erected on the basis of fragmentary material including cranial elements, from the late Miocene of Samos (Greece). We re-examined the type material of Varanus marathonensis Weithofer, 1888, based on material from the late Miocene of Pikermi (Greece), and concluded that it is a valid, diagnosable species. Previously unpublished Iberian material from the Aragonian (middle Miocene) of Abocador de Can Mata (Vallès-Penedès Basin, Barcelona) and the Vallesian (late Miocene) of Batallones (Madrid Basin) is clearly referable to the same species on a morphological basis, further enabling to provide an emended diagnosis for this species. Varanus amnhophilis appears to be a junior subjective synonym of V. marathonensis. On the basis of the most complete fossil Varanus skeleton ever described, it has been possible to further resolve the internal phylogeny of this genus by cladistically analyzing 80 taxa coded for 495 morphological and 5729 molecular characters. Varanus marathonensis was a large-sized species distributed at relatively low latitudes in both southwestern and southeastern Europe from at least MN7+8 to MN12. Our cladistic analysis nests V. marathonensis into an eastern clade of Varanus instead of the African clade comprising Varanus griseus, to which it had been related in the past. At least two different Varanus lineages were present in Europe during the Neogene, represented by Varanus mokrensis (early Miocene) and V. marathonensis (middle to late Miocene), respectively.

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<![CDATA[Multilocus Phylogeography of the Treefrog Scinax eurydice (Anura, Hylidae) Reveals a Plio-Pleistocene Diversification in the Atlantic Forest]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dafdab0ee8fa60bc5497

We aim to evaluate the genetic structure of an Atlantic Forest amphibian species, Scinax eurydice, testing the congruence among patterns identified and proposed by the literature for Pleistocene refugia, microrefugia, and geographic barriers to gene flow such as major rivers. Furthermore, we aim to evaluate predictions of such barriers and refugia on the genetic structure of the species, such as presence/absence of dispersal, timing since separation, and population expansions/contractions. We sequenced mitochondrial and nuclear genetic markers on 94 tissue samples from 41 localities. We inferred a gene tree and estimated genetic distances using mtDNA sequences. We then ran population clustering and assignment methods, AMOVA, and estimated migration rates among populations identified through mtDNA and nDNA analyses. We used a dated species tree, skyline plots, and summary statistics to evaluate concordance between population’s distributions and geographic barriers and Pleistocene refugia. Scinax eurydice showed high mtDNA divergences and four clearly distinct mtDNA lineages. Species tree and population assignment tests supported the existence of two major clades corresponding to northeastern and southeastern Atlantic Forest in Brazil, each one composed of two other clades. Lineage splitting events occurred from late Pliocene to Pleistocene. We identified demographic expansions in two clades, and inexistent to low levels of migrations among different populations. Genetic patterns and demographic data support the existence of two northern Refuge and corroborate microrefugia south of the Doce/Jequitinhonha Rivers biogeographic divide. The results agree with a scenario of recent demographic expansion of lowland taxa. Scinax eurydice comprises a species complex, harboring undescribed taxa consistent with Pleistocene refugia. Two rivers lie at the boundaries among populations and endorse their role as secondary barriers to gene flow.

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<![CDATA[Across the Gap: Geochronological and Sedimentological Analyses from the Late Pleistocene-Holocene Sequence of Goda Buticha, Southeastern Ethiopia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdbb24

Goda Buticha is a cave site near Dire Dawa in southeastern Ethiopia that contains an archaeological sequence sampling the late Pleistocene and Holocene of the region. The sedimentary sequence displays complex cultural, chronological and sedimentological histories that seem incongruent with one another. A first set of radiocarbon ages suggested a long sedimentological gap from the end of Marine Isotopic Stage (MIS) 3 to the mid-Holocene. Macroscopic observations suggest that the main sedimentological change does not coincide with the chronostratigraphic hiatus. The cultural sequence shows technological continuity with a late persistence of artifacts that are usually attributed to the Middle Stone Age into the younger parts of the stratigraphic sequence, yet become increasingly associated with lithic artifacts typically related to the Later Stone Age. While not a unique case, this combination of features is unusual in the Horn of Africa. In order to evaluate the possible implications of these observations, sedimentological analyses combined with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) were conducted. The OSL data now extend the radiocarbon chronology up to 63 ± 7 ka; they also confirm the existence of the chronological gap between 24.8 ± 2.6 ka and 7.5 ± 0.3 ka. The sedimentological analyses suggest that the origin and mode of deposition were largely similar throughout the whole sequence, although the anthropic and faunal activities increased in the younger levels. Regional climatic records are used to support the sedimentological observations and interpretations. We discuss the implications of the sedimentological and dating analyses for understanding cultural processes in the region.

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<![CDATA[New Cricetid Rodents from Strata near the Eocene-Oligocene Boundary in Erden Obo Section (Nei Mongol, China)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da58ab0ee8fa60b8f67f

New cricetids (Eucricetodon wangae sp. nov., Eucricetodon sp. and Pappocricetodon siziwangqiensis sp. nov.) are reported from the lower and middle parts of the “Upper Red” beds of the Erden Obo section in Nei Mongol, China. Eucricetodon wangae is more primitive than other known species of the genus from lower Oligocene of Asia and Europe in having a single anterocone on M1, a single connection between the protocone and the paracone, the anterior metalophule connection in M1-2 and weaker anteroconid and ectomesolophid in lower molars. Pappocricetodon siziwangqiensis is more advanced than other species of the genus in permanently missing P4 and having posterior protolophule connection. These fossils suggest that the age of the “Upper Red” of the Erden Obo section is younger than the age of the Upper Eocene Houldjin and Caijiachong formations, but older than those containing the Shandgolian faunas; the “Upper Red” is most closely correlative to the Ergilian beds in age, and probably close to the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. Given the age estimate, Eucricetodon wangae provides the new evidence to support that cricetid dispersal from Asia to Europe occurred prior to the Eocene-Oligocene boundary.

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<![CDATA[Pleistocene Hominins as a Resource for Carnivores: A c. 500,000-Year-Old Human Femur Bearing Tooth-Marks in North Africa (Thomas Quarry I, Morocco)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da6bab0ee8fa60b92d56

In many Middle Pleistocene sites, the co-occurrence of hominins with carnivores, who both contributed to faunal accumulations, suggests competition for resources as well as for living spaces. Despite this, there is very little evidence of direct interaction between them to-date. Recently, a human femoral diaphysis has been recognized in South-West of Casablanca (Morocco), in the locality called Thomas Quarry I. This site is famous for its Middle Pleistocene fossil hominins considered representatives of Homo rhodesiensis. The bone was discovered in Unit 4 of the Grotte à Hominidés (GH), dated to c. 500 ky and was associated with Acheulean artefacts and a rich mammalian fauna. Anatomically, it fits well within the group of known early Middle Pleistocene Homo, but its chief point of interest is that the diaphyseal ends display numerous tooth marks showing that it had been consumed shortly after death by a large carnivore, probably a hyena. This bone represents the first evidence of consumption of human remains by carnivores in the cave. Whether predated or scavenged, this chewed femur indicates that humans were a resource for carnivores, underlining their close relationships during the Middle Pleistocene in Atlantic Morocco.

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<![CDATA[33 million year old Myotis (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) and the rapid global radiation of modern bats]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbd66

The bat genus Myotis is represented by 120+ living species and 40+ extinct species and is found on every continent except Antarctica. The time of divergence of Myotis has been contentious as has the time and place of origin of its encompassing group the Vespertilionidae, the most diverse (450+ species) and widely distributed extant bat family. Fossil Myotis species are common, especially in Europe, beginning in the Miocene but earlier records are poor. Recent study of new specimens from the Belgian early Oligocene locality of Boutersem reveals the presence of a relatively large vespertilionid. Morphological comparison and phylogenetic analysis confirms that the new, large form can be confidently assigned to the genus Myotis, making this record the earliest known for that taxon and extending the temporal range of this extant genus to over 33 million years. This suggests that previously published molecular divergence dates for crown myotines (Myotis) are too young by at least 7 million years. Additionally, examination of first fossil appearance data of 1,011 extant placental mammal genera indicates that only 13 first occurred in the middle to late Paleogene (48 to 33 million years ago) and of these, six represent bats, including Myotis. Paleogene members of both major suborders of Chiroptera (Yangochiroptera and Yinpterochiroptera) include extant genera indicating early establishment of successful and long-term adaptive strategies as bats underwent an explosive radiation near the beginning of the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum in the Old World. A second bat adaptive radiation in the New World began coincident with the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum.

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<![CDATA[Craniodental and humeral morphology of a new species of Masrasector (Teratodontinae, Hyaenodonta, Placentalia) from the late Eocene of Egypt and locomotor diversity in hyaenodonts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdca02

Hyaenodonta is a diverse clade of carnivorous mammals that were part of terrestrial faunas in the Paleogene of Eurasia and North America, but the oldest record for the group is Afro-Arabian, making the record there vital for understanding the evolution of this wide-spread group. Previous studies show an ancient split between two major clades of hyaenodonts that converged in hypercarnivory: Hyainailourinae and Hyaenodontinae. These clades are each supported by cranial characters. Phylogenetic analyses of hyaenodonts also support the monophyly of Teratodontinae, an Afro-Arabian clade of mesocarnivorous to hypercarnivorous hyaenodonts. Unfortunately, the cranial anatomy of teratodontines is poorly known, and aligning the clade with other lineages has been difficult. Here, a new species of the phylogenetically controversial teratodontine Masrasector is described from Locality 41 (latest Priabonian, late Eocene) from the Fayum Depression, Egypt. The hypodigm includes the most complete remains of a Paleogene teratodontine, including largely complete crania, multiple dentaries, and isolated humeri. Standard and “tip-dating” Bayesian analyses of a character-taxon matrix that samples cranial, postcranial, and dental characters support a monophyletic Masrasector within Teratodontinae, which is consistently placed as a close sister group of Hyainailouridae. The cranial morphology of Masrasector provides new support for an expanded Hyainailouroidea (Teratodontinae + Hyainailouridae), particularly characters of the nuchal crest, palate, and basicranium. A discriminant function analysis was performed using measurements of the distal humerus from a diverse sample of extant carnivorans to infer the locomotor habits of Masrasector. Masrasector was assigned to the “terrestrial” locomotor category, a result consistent with the well-defined medial trochlear ridges, and moderately developed supinator crests of the specimens. Masrasector appears to have been a fast-moving terrestrial form with a diverse diet. These specimens considerably improve our understanding of Teratodontinae, an ancient member of the Afro-Arabian mammalian fauna, and our understanding of hyaenodont diversity before the dispersal of Carnivora to the continent near the end of the Paleogene.

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<![CDATA[Late Pleistocene-Holocene paleobiogeography of the genus Apodemus in Central Europe]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbdbd

Wood mice of the genus Apodemus are an essential component of small mammal communities throughout Europe. Molecular data suggest the postglacial colonization of current ranges from south European glacial refugia, different in particular species. Yet, details on the course of colonization and Holocene history of particular species are not available, partly because of a lack of reliable criteria for species identification in the fossil record. Using a sample of extant species, we analyzed variation patterns and between-species overlaps for a large set of metric and non-metric dental variables and established the criteria enabling the reliable species identification of fragmentary fossil material. The corresponding biometrical analyses were undertaken with fossil material of the genus (2528 items, 747 MNI) from 22 continuous sedimentary series in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, from LGM to Recent. In Central Europe, the genus is invariantly absent in LGM assemblages but regularly appears during the Late Vistulian. All the earliest records belong to A. flavicollis, the species clearly predominating in the fossil record until the Late Holocene. A. uralensis accompanied it in all regions until the late Boreal when disappeared from the fossil record (except for Pannonia). A few items identified as A. sylvaticus had already appeared in the early Holocene assemblages, first in the western part of the region, yet the regular appearance of the species is mostly in the post-Neolithic age. A. agrarius appeared sparsely from the Boreal with a maximum frequency during the post-Neolithic period. The results conform well to the picture suggested by molecular phylogeography but demonstrate considerable differences among particular species in dynamic of the range colonization. Further details concerning Holocene paleobiogeography of individual species in the medium latitude Europe are discussed.

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<![CDATA[Towards an Accurate and Precise Chronology for the Colonization of Australia: The Example of Riwi, Kimberley, Western Australia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3fab0ee8fa60b8983d

An extensive series of 44 radiocarbon (14C) and 37 optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages have been obtained from the site of Riwi, south central Kimberley (NW Australia). As one of the earliest known Pleistocene sites in Australia, with archaeologically sterile sediment beneath deposits containing occupation, the chronology of the site is important in renewed debates surrounding the colonization of Sahul. Charcoal is preserved throughout the sequence and within multiple discrete hearth features. Prior to 14C dating, charcoal has been pretreated with both acid-base-acid (ABA) and acid base oxidation-stepped combustion (ABOx-SC) methods at multiple laboratories. Ages are consistent between laboratories and also between the two pretreatment methods, suggesting that contamination is easily removed from charcoal at Riwi and the Pleistocene ages are likely to be accurate. Whilst some charcoal samples recovered from outside hearth features are identified as outliers within a Bayesian model, all ages on charcoal within hearth features are consistent with stratigraphy. OSL dating has been undertaken using single quartz grains from the sandy matrix. The majority of samples show De distributions that are well-bleached but that also include evidence for mixing as a result of post-depositional bioturbation of the sediment. The results of the two techniques are compared and evaluated within a Bayesian model. Consistency between the two methods is good, and we demonstrate human occupation at this site from 46.4–44.6 cal kBP (95.4% probability range). Importantly, the lowest archaeological horizon at Riwi is underlain by sterile sediments which have been dated by OSL making it possible to demonstrate the absence of human occupation for between 0.9–5.2 ka (68.2% probability range) prior to occupation.

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<![CDATA[Integrated Chronology, Flora and Faunas, and Paleoecology of the Alajuela Formation, Late Miocene of Panama]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdce60

The late Miocene was an important time to understand the geological, climatic, and biotic evolution of the ancient New World tropics and the context for the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI). Despite this importance, upper Miocene deposits containing diverse faunas and floras and their associated geological context are rare in Central America. We present an integrated study of the geological and paleontological context and age of a new locality from Lago Alajuela in northern Panama (Caribbean side) containing late Miocene marine and terrestrial fossils (plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates) from the Alajuela Formation. These taxa indicate predominantly estuarine and shallow marine paleoenvironments, along with terrestrial influences based on the occurrence of land mammals. Sr-isotope ratio analyses of in situ scallop shells indicate an age for the Alajuela Formation of 9.77 ± 0.22 Ma, which also equates to a latest Clarendonian (Cl3) North American Land Mammal Age. Along with the roughly contemporaneous late Miocene Gatun and Lago Bayano faunas in Panama, we now have the opportunity to reconstruct the dynamics of the Central America seaway that existed before final closure coincident with formation of the Isthmus of Panama.

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<![CDATA[The Early Origin of the Antarctic Marine Fauna and Its Evolutionary Implications]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9edab0ee8fa60b6d0a2

The extensive Late Cretaceous – Early Paleogene sedimentary succession of Seymour Island, N.E. Antarctic Peninsula offers an unparalleled opportunity to examine the evolutionary origins of a modern polar marine fauna. Some 38 modern Southern Ocean molluscan genera (26 gastropods and 12 bivalves), representing approximately 18% of the total modern benthic molluscan fauna, can now be traced back through at least part of this sequence. As noted elsewhere in the world, the balance of the molluscan fauna changes sharply across the Cretaceous – Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary, with gastropods subsequently becoming more diverse than bivalves. A major reason for this is a significant radiation of the Neogastropoda, which today forms one of the most diverse clades in the sea. Buccinoidea is the dominant neogastropod superfamily in both the Paleocene Sobral Formation (SF) (56% of neogastropod genera) and Early - Middle Eocene La Meseta Formation (LMF) (47%), with the Conoidea (25%) being prominent for the first time in the latter. This radiation of Neogastropoda is linked to a significant pulse of global warming that reached at least 65°S, and terminates abruptly in the upper LMF in an extinction event that most likely heralds the onset of global cooling. It is also possible that the marked Early Paleogene expansion of neogastropods in Antarctica is in part due to a global increase in rates of origination following the K/Pg mass extinction event. The radiation of this and other clades at ∼65°S indicates that Antarctica was not necessarily an evolutionary refugium, or sink, in the Early – Middle Eocene. Evolutionary source – sink dynamics may have been significantly different between the Paleogene greenhouse and Neogene icehouse worlds.

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<![CDATA[Measures of Relative Dentary Strength in Rancho La Brea Smilodon fatalis over Time]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da46ab0ee8fa60b8bdb8

The late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction of approximately 12,000 years ago, included the demise of Smilodon fatalis, a hypercarnivore from the Rancho La Brea deposits, which has been studied across time by looking at different deposits or pits to determine morphological size and shape changes and trends during this time. To better understand functional aspects of these changes, this study focused on a measure of jaw strength over time, which can give an indication of morphological changes within the jaw that cannot be seen using surface morphometrics. By radiographing dentaries, cortical bone can be seen, which provides an estimate of resistance to bending forces while biting, and can be measured and used as an indicator of jaw strength. Measurements were taken at repeatable locations on the dentary of the depth of the cortical bone, and of a standardized measure of cortical bone, which allows for the comparison between different individuals. Specimens included those of five different pits ranging from about 37 Kybp to 13 Kybp (just before the extinction of S. fatalis). No significant difference was found in the depth of jaws at any of the measurement points from any of the pits. However, significant differences were found in both the actual thickness of cortical bone, and the standardized thickness of cortical bone at the lower P4 between pit 13 (which had the lowest amount of bone) and pit 61/67 (which had the highest). These conclusions support other studies that have shown that individuals in pit 13 were under physiological and perhaps dietary stress, which may be reflected in the deposition of cortical bone, while the opposite trend is seen in the individuals in pit 61/67. Our results further support findings suggesting Smilodon did not appear to be morphologically most vulnerable right before its extinction.

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<![CDATA[The Arrival of Homo sapiens into the Southern Cone at 14,000 Years Ago]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9dbab0ee8fa60b67b33

The Arroyo Seco 2 site contains a rich archaeological record, exceptional for South America, to explain the expansion of Homo sapiens into the Americas and their interaction with extinct Pleistocene mammals. The following paper provides a detailed overview of material remains found in the earliest cultural episodes at this multi-component site, dated between ca. 12,170 14C yrs B.P. (ca. 14,064 cal yrs B.P.) and 11,180 14C yrs B.P. (ca. 13,068 cal yrs B.P.). Evidence of early occupations includes the presence of lithic tools, a concentration of Pleistocene species remains, human-induced fractured animal bones, and a selection of skeletal parts of extinct fauna. The occurrence of hunter-gatherers in the Southern Cone at ca. 14,000 cal yrs B.P. is added to the growing list of American sites that indicate a human occupation earlier than the Clovis dispersal episode, but posterior to the onset of the deglaciation of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in the North America.

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<![CDATA[An Eocene orthocone from Antarctica shows convergent evolution of internally shelled cephalopods]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbcfd

Background

The Subclass Coleoidea (Class Cephalopoda) accommodates the diverse present-day internally shelled cephalopod mollusks (Spirula, Sepia and octopuses, squids, Vampyroteuthis) and also extinct internally shelled cephalopods. Recent Spirula represents a unique coleoid retaining shell structures, a narrow marginal siphuncle and globular protoconch that signify the ancestry of the subclass Coleoidea from the Paleozoic subclass Bactritoidea. This hypothesis has been recently supported by newly recorded diverse bactritoid-like coleoids from the Carboniferous of the USA, but prior to this study no fossil cephalopod indicative of an endochochleate branch with an origin independent from subclass Bactritoidea has been reported.

Methodology/Principal findings

Two orthoconic conchs were recovered from the Early Eocene of Seymour Island at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica. They have loosely mineralized organic-rich chitin-compatible microlaminated shell walls and broadly expanded central siphuncles. The morphological, ultrustructural and chemical data were determined and characterized through comparisons with extant and extinct taxa using Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (SEM/EDS).

Conclusions/Significance

Our study presents the first evidence for an evolutionary lineage of internally shelled cephalopods with independent origin from Bactritoidea/Coleoidea, indicating convergent evolution with the subclass Coleoidea. A new subclass Paracoleoidea Doguzhaeva n. subcl. is established for accommodation of orthoconic cephalopods with the internal shell associated with a broadly expanded central siphuncle. Antarcticerida Doguzhaeva n. ord., Antarcticeratidae Doguzhaeva n. fam., Antarcticeras nordenskjoeldi Doguzhaeva n. gen., n. sp. are described within the subclass Paracoleoidea. The analysis of organic-rich shell preservation of A. nordenskjoeldi by use of SEM/EDS techniques revealed fossilization of hyposeptal cameral soft tissues. This suggests that a depositional environment favoring soft-tissue preservation was the factor enabling conservation of the weakly mineralized shell of A. nordenskjoeldi.

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<![CDATA[Tropical Peat and Peatland Development in the Floodplains of the Greater Pamba Basin, South-Western India during the Holocene]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da89ab0ee8fa60b9d572

Holocene sequences in the humid tropical region of Kerala, South-western (SW) India have preserved abundance of organic—rich sediments in the form of peat and its rapid development in a narrow time frame towards Middle Holocene has been found to be significant. The sub—coastal areas and flood plains of the Greater Pamba Basin have provided palaeorecords of peat indicating that the deposits are essentially formed within freshwater. The combination of factors like stabilized sea level and its subsequent fall since the Middle Holocene, topographic relief and climatic conditions led to rapid peat accumulation across the coastal lowlands. The high rainfall and massive floods coupled with a rising sea level must have inundated > 75% of the coastal plain land converting it into a veritable lagoon—lake system that eventually led to abrupt termination of the forest ecosystem and also converted the floodplains into peatland where accumulation of peat almost to 2.0–3.0 m thickness in coastal lowlands and river basins during the shorter interval in the Middle Holocene. Vast areas of the coastal plains of Kerala have been converted into carbon rich peatland during the Middle Holocene and transforming the entire coastal stretch and associated landforms as one of the relatively youngest peatlands in the extreme southern tip of India. Unlike the uninterrupted formation of peatlands of considerable extent during the Holocene in Southeast Asia, the south Peninsular Indian region has restricted and short intervals of peatlands in the floodplains and coastal lowlands. Such a scenario is attributed to the topographic relief of the terrain and the prevailing hydrological regimes and environmental conditions as a consequence of monsoon variability since Middle Holocene in SW India. Considering the tropical coastal lowlands and associated peatlands are excellent repositories of carbon, they are very important for regional carbon cycling and habitat diversity. The alarming rate of land modification and development is destabilizing these carbon pools resulting in large scale carbon emissions to the atmosphere and loss of low-latitude peat palaeorecords. Therefore, these palaeorecords are to be conserved and addressed for better understanding and utilizing the carbon pool for effective climate change adaptation. This communication is the first attempt of addressing the peat formation and peatland development during the Holocene from the tropical region of Peninsular India.

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<![CDATA[Biting Midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) from Cambay Amber Indicate that the Eocene Fauna of the Indian Subcontinent Was Not Isolated]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db38ab0ee8fa60bd3c59

India’s unique and highly diverse biota combined with its unique geodynamical history has generated significant interest in the patterns and processes that have shaped the current distribution of India’s flora and fauna and their biogeographical relationships. Fifty four million year old Cambay amber from northwestern India provides the opportunity to address questions relating to endemism and biogeographic history by studying fossil insects. Within the present study seven extant and three fossil genera of biting midges are recorded from Cambay amber and five new species are described: Eohelea indica Stebner & Szadziewski n. sp., Gedanohelea gerdesorum Stebner & Szadziewski n. sp., Meunierohelea cambayana Stebner & Szadziewski n. sp., Meunierohelea borkenti Stebner & Szadziewski n. sp., and Meunierohelea orientalis Stebner & Szadziewski n. sp. Fossils of species in the genera Leptoconops Skuse, 1889, Forcipomyia Meigen, 1818, Brachypogon Kieffer, 1899, Stilobezzia Kieffer, 1911, Serromyia Meigen, 1818, and Mantohelea Szadziewski, 1988 are recorded without formal description. Furthermore, one fossil belonging to the genus Camptopterohelea Wirth & Hubert, 1960 is included in the present study. Our study reveals faunal links among Ceratopogonidae from Cambay amber and contemporaneous amber from Fushun, China, Eocene Baltic amber from Europe, as well as the modern Australasian and the Oriental regions. These findings imply that faunal exchange between Europe, Asia and India took place before the formation of Cambay amber in the early Eocene.

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