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Life thrived on Earth 3.5 billion years ago, research suggests

Originally posted on The Extinction Chronicles:
Scientists use stable sulfur isotopes to understand ancient microbial metabolism Date: February 8, 2019 Source: Tokyo Institute of Technology Summary: Three and a half billion years ago Earth hosted life, but was it barely surviving, or thriving? A new study provides new answers to this question. Microbial metabolism is recorded in billions of years of sulfur isotope ratios that agree with this study’s predictions, suggesting life throve in the ancient oceans. Using this data, scientists can more deeply link the geochemical record with cellular states and ecology. Electron microscopy image of microbial cells which respire sulfate. Credit: Guy Perkins and Mark Ellisman, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190208085855.htm Three and a half billion years ago Earth hosted life, but was it barely surviving, or thriving? A new study carried out by a multi institutional team with leadership including the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) of Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) provides new answers to this question. Microbial metabolism is recorded in billions of years of sulfur isotope ratios that agree with this study’s predictions, suggesting life throve in the ancient oceans. Using this data, scientists can more deeply link the geochemical record with cellular states and ecology. Scientists want to know how long life has existed on Earth. If it has been around for almost as long as the planet, this suggests it is easy for life to originate and life should…

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Oldest seed-eating perching bird discovered

Originally posted on Dear Kitty. Some blog:
https://youtu.be/75posEbWeZs This 7 February 2019 video is called Ancestor to modern day sparrows flew around 52 million years ago. From the Field Museum in the USA: Earliest known seed-eating perching bird discovered in Fossil Lake, Wyoming February 7, 2019 Summary: The ‘perching birds‘, or passerines, are the most common birds in the world today — they include sparrows, robins, and finches. They used to be very rare. Scientists have just discovered some of the earliest relatives of the passerines, including a 52-million-year-old fossil with a thick, curved beak for eating seeds. Most of the birds you’ve ever seen — sparrows, finches, robins, crows — have one crucial thing in common: they’re all what scientists refer to as perching birds, or “passerines”. The passerines make up about 6,500 of the 10,000 bird species alive today. But while they’re everywhere now, they were once rare, and scientists are still learning about their origins. In a new paper in Current Biology, researchers have announced the discovery of one of the earliest known passerine birds, from 52 million years ago. “This is one of the earliest known perching birds. It’s fascinating because passerines today make up most of all bird species, but they were extremely rare back then. This particular piece is just exquisite,” says Field Museum Neguanee Distinguished Service Curator Lance Grande, an author of the paper. “It is a complete skeleton with the feathers still…

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How snakes lost their limbs

Originally posted on Dear Kitty. Some blog:
https://youtu.be/gIvrGtgVtr8 This February 2018 video says about itself: 90 million years ago, an ancient snake known as Najash had…legs. It is by no means the only snake to have limbs either. But what’s even stranger: we’re not at all sure where it came from. From the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo in Brazil: Research explains how snakes lost their limbs The study is part of an effort to understand how changes in the genome lead to changes in phenotypes February 6, 2019 Snakes and lizards are reptiles that belong to the order Squamata. They share several traits but differ in one obvious respect: snakes do not have limbs. The two suborders diverged more than 100 million years ago. Identification of the genetic factors involved in this loss of limbs is a focus of the article “Phenotype loss is associated with widespread divergence of the gene regulatory landscape in evolution” published by Juliana Gusson Roscito and collaborators in Nature Communications. Another equally interesting focus of the article is eye degeneration in certain subterranean mammals. “We investigated these two cases in order to understand a much more general process, which is how genome changes during evolution lead to phenotype changes,” Roscito told. Currently working as a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, Roscito has been a postdoctoral fellow in Brazil and…

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Dutch Winterswijk Triassic fossils, new study

Originally posted on Dear Kitty. Some blog:
https://youtu.be/veAcPYw_mjk This May 2018 video is called Dutch Minerals and [Triassic] Fossils / Winterswijk. I myself was at this quarry. Unfortunately, only the path at the top is accessible for the public. So, I saw only a willom warbler, not the nesting eagle owls and Triassic fossils below. From the University of Bonn in Germany: Fossil deposit is much richer than expected Paleontologist analyses finds from the Dutch town of Winterswijk January 14, 2019 It has long been known that a quarry near the Dutch town of Winterswijk is an Eldorado for fossil lovers. But even connoisseurs will be surprised just how outstanding the site actually is. A student at the University of Bonn, himself a Dutchman and passionate fossil collector, has now analyzed pieces from museums and private collections for his master’s thesis. He found an amazing amount of almost completely preserved skeletons, all between 242 and 247 million years old. The good condition is presumably due to particularly favorable development conditions. These make Winterswijk, which belongs to the so-called Germanic Basin, a cornucopia for paleontology. The study is published in the Paläontologische Zeitschrift. Jelle Heijne examined exactly 327 remains of marine reptiles for his master’s thesis — collected partly from public museums, but primarily from about 20 private collections. He was particularly impressed by the high quality of the finds: “Among them were more than 20 contiguous skeletons”, he emphasizes. “Only…

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Singing humpback whales, new research

Originally posted on Dear Kitty. Some blog:
https://youtu.be/FdZQAkC-tjQ This video from australia says about itself: Humpback Whale Singing Hervey Bay 2014 Be sure to have your volume up for this clip. The audio and video were filmed using a GoPro on separate days with the audio being some of the most stunning whale singing that we have heard in many years. The video is yet more footage of our curious friend ‘scratchy’. From the Wildlife Conservation Society: Giant singers from neighboring oceans share song parts over time January 8, 2019 Singing humpback whales from different ocean basins seem to be picking up musical ideas from afar, and incorporating these new phrases and themes into the latest song, according to a newly published study in Royal Society Open Science that’s helping scientists better understand how whales learn and change their musical compositions. The new research shows that two humpback whale populations in different ocean basins (the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans) in the Southern Hemisphere sing similar song types, but the amount of similarity differs across years. This suggests that males from these two populations come into contact at some point in the year to hear and learn songs from each other. The study titled “Culturally transmitted song exchange between humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the southeast Atlantic and southwest Indian Ocean basins” appears in the latest edition of the Royal Society Open Science journal. The authors are: Melinda L. Rekdahl,…

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