ResearchPad - palaeobiology https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[The apparent exponential radiation of Phanerozoic land vertebrates is an artefact of spatial sampling biases]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nc9e55dae-0ecc-4336-855c-b5ad1fdaf2ed There is no consensus about how terrestrial biodiversity was assembled through deep time, and in particular whether it has risen exponentially over the Phanerozoic. Using a database of 60 859 fossil occurrences, we show that the spatial extent of the worldwide terrestrial tetrapod fossil record itself expands exponentially through the Phanerozoic. Changes in spatial sampling explain up to 67% of the change in known fossil species counts, and these changes are decoupled from variation in habitable land area that existed through time. Spatial sampling therefore represents a real and profound sampling bias that cannot be explained as redundancy. To address this bias, we estimate terrestrial tetrapod diversity for palaeogeographical regions of approximately equal size. We find that regional-scale diversity was constrained over timespans of tens to hundreds of millions of years, and similar patterns are recovered for major subgroups, such as dinosaurs, mammals and squamates. Although the Cretaceous/Palaeogene mass extinction catalysed an abrupt two- to three-fold increase in regional diversity 66 million years ago, no further increases occurred, and recent levels of regional diversity do not exceed those of the Palaeogene. These results parallel those recovered in analyses of local community-level richness. Taken together, our findings strongly contradict past studies that suggested unbounded diversity increases at local and regional scales over the last 100 million years.

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<![CDATA[Microbial-tubeworm associations in a 440 million year old hydrothermal vent community]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1c2b44d5eed0c48445eaa3

Microorganisms are the chief primary producers within present-day deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecosystems, and play a fundamental role in shaping the ecology of these environments. However, very little is known about the microbes that occurred within, and structured, ancient vent communities. The evolutionary history, diversity and the nature of interactions between ancient vent microorganisms and hydrothermal vent animals are largely undetermined. The oldest known hydrothermal vent community that includes metazoans is preserved within the Ordovician to early Silurian Yaman Kasy massive sulfide deposit, Ural Mountains, Russia. This deposit contains two types of tube fossil attributed to annelid worms. A re-examination of these fossils using a range of microscopy, chemical analysis and nano-tomography techniques reveals the preservation of filamentous microorganisms intimately associated with the tubes. The microfossils bear a strong resemblance to modern hydrothermal vent microbial filaments, including those preserved within the mineralized tubes of the extant vent polychaete genus Alvinella. The Yaman Kasy fossil filaments represent the oldest animal–microbial associations preserved within an ancient hydrothermal vent environment. They allude to a diverse microbial community, and also demonstrate that remarkable fine-scale microbial preservation can also be observed in ancient vent deposits, suggesting the possible existence of similar exceptionally preserved microfossils in even older vent environments.

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