Because Isotopes of Carbon and Oxygen Are So Last Century… – #365papers – 2017 – 141

#365papers for May 21, 2017

Martin, Tacail, and Balter, 2017, Non-traditional isotope perspective in vertebrate palaeobiology: Palaeontology, p. 1-18.

What’s it about?

The authors discuss the utility of isotopes of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc for study of ancient environments, dietary preferences, and food chains. Continue reading

Animal Extinctions Don’t Mean Plant Extinctions – #365papers – 2017 – 140

#365papers for May 20, 2017

Barbacka, Pacyna, Kocsis, Jarzynka, Ziaja, and Bodor, 2017, Changes in terrestrial floras at the Triassic-Jurassic Boundary in Europe: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 480, p. 80-93.

What’s it about?

A major mass extinction terrestrial and marine animals occurred at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. Here, the authors examine whether land plants also suffered an extinction. It appears that plants were largely unaffected. Continue reading

Volcanoes and the Late Ordovician Extinction – #365papers – 2017 – 139

#365papers for May 19, 2017

Jones, Martini, Fike, and Kaiho, 2017, A volcanic trigger for the Late Ordovician mass extinction? Mercury data from south China and Laurentia: Geology,

What’s it about?

One of the “Big Five” mass extinctions that has affected life on this planet is the Late Ordovician mass extinction or LOME. The causes of such extinctions are topics of focused research efforts. Here, the authors show that pulses of volcanic activity may be related to the extinction events. Continue reading

All Your Carcass Are Belong in Carnivore Belly – #365papers – 2017 – 138

#365papers for May 18, 2017

Chichkoyan, Figueirido, Belinchon, Lanata, Moigne, Martinez-Navarro, 2017, Direct evidence of megamammal-carnivore interaction decoded from bone marks in historical fossil collections from the Pampean region: PeerJ 5:e3117; DOI 10.7717/peerj.3117

What’s it about?

Trace fossils (scratches, pits, fractures) on the fossils large mammalian herbivores from the Pampean region of Argentina are used to infer that carnivores completely utilized the carcasses of their prey. Continue reading

Dinosaur Fossils: Dating the Rock to Date the Bones – #365papers – 2017 – 137

#365papers for May 17, 2017

An, Kuang, Liu, Peng, Xu, Xu, Zhang, Wang, Chen, and Zhang, 2016, Detrital zircon dating and tracing the provenance of dinosaur bone beds from the Late Cretaceous Wangshi Group in Zhucheng, Shandong, East China: Journal of Palaeogeography, v. 5, 72-99.

What’s it about?

Geochemical and sedimentological methods are used to determine the age and provenance (i.e. where did the sediments come from) of dinosaur-bearing rocks. The bones themselves could not be directly dated, but cannot be younger than the rocks they’re found in. Continue reading

How Do Populations of Giant Snails Cope Annual Changes? – #365papers – 2017 – 136

#365papers for May 16, 2017

Miranda and Fontenelle, 2015, Population dynamics of Megalobulimus paranaguensis (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) the the southeast coast of Brazil: Zoologia, v. 32, p. 463-468.

What’s it about?

This study used techniques described in yesterday’s paper to examine the annual changes in activity of a population of Megalobulimus paranaguensis snails in southeast Brazil. There are specific periods of time when more snails are active and when they are reproducing, based upon the environmental conditions such as evaportranspiration and precipitation. These snails are more active during the winter months and are dormant during the summer. Continue reading

Assigning an Age to a Giant Snail – #365papers – 2017 – 135

#365papers for May 15, 2017

Fontenelle and Miranda, 2012, The use of outer lip in age estimation of Megalobulimus paranaguensis (Gastropoda, Pulmonata): Strombus, v 19, p. 15-22.

What’s it about?

Megalobulimus is a giant snail that lives in South America. Using the thickness of the outer lip of the shell (where the snail sticks out of its shell), it’s possible to estimate the age of the snail. Continue reading

A New Cynodont and the Evolutionary Path to Mammals – #365papers – 2017 – 134

#365papers for May 14, 2017

Martinelli, Eltink, Da-Rosa, and Langer, 2017, A new cynodont from the Santa Maria Formation, south Brazil, improves late Triassic probainognathian diversity: Papers in Palaeontology, 1-23

What’s it about?

This paper is a description of a new species of non-mammalian synapsid from Brazil. Non-mammalian synapsids are vertebrates that are on the lineage toward mammals (and far removed from other reptiles), but lack the specific characteristics of the ear and jaw that distinguish mammals from all other vertebrates. This particular new species is based on a left lower jaw with most of its teeth. Continue reading

How Did the Earth’s Crust Grow – #365papers – 2017 – 133

#365papers for May 13, 2017

Rozel, Golabek, Jain, Tackley, and Gerya, 2017, Continental crust formation on early Earth controlled by intrusive magmatism: Nature.

What’s it about?

The Earth didn’t always have continents. This paper explores how the planet’s first continents probably formed. The major hypotheses were that the continents formed by volcanic eruptions primarily, or by upwellings of magma that never erupted on the surface. It seems that the latter is most likely. Continue reading

Keratin Ain’t Gonna Make It – #365papers – 2017 – 132

#365papers for May 12, 2017

Saitta, Rogers, Brooker, Abbott, Kumar, O’Reilly, Donohoe, Dutta, Summons, and Vinther, 2017, Low fossilization potential for keratin protein revealed by experimental taphonomy: Palaeontology, p. 1-10.

What’s it about?

Keratin is a major protein making up hair and nails. The authors conduct experiments on modern keratin to emulate fossilization to test whether or not keratin is likely to fossilize. Based on these experiments, keratin should not survive the process of fossilization, though calcium phosphate and pigments might. Continue reading