EVIDENCE OF NEOTECTONIC ACTIVITY ALONG THE EAST COAST OF INDIAN PENINSULA

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 388-12: EVIDENCE OF NEOTECTONIC ACTIVITY ALONG THE EAST COAST OF INDIAN PENINSULA                            ( ABSTRACT)
 
Riffin T Sajeev
Wednesday, 25 October 201709:00 AM – 06:30 PM
 
Washington State Convention Center – Halls 4EF
The eastern coastal plains of the Indian peninsula are studied meagerly based on its tectonic aspects.In the previous ventures, the author reported the paleochronological existence of a large estuary, on the basis of fossils of Crassostrea Sp. Dating back to the mio-pliocene Epoch. The author suggests that the paleo-estuary ceased in existence due to a marine regression caused by a regional uplift in between the present day trajectories of the rivers Thamirabharani and Nambiar. The natures of structural characteristics seen in the regional outcrops of the basin indicate a dominant neotectonic feature . Brittle slip faults are abundant in these rocky outcrops containing Khondalite beds. Shearing is visible almost anywhere. This may be caused by the near proximity of the study area with the Achankovil Shear Zone (AKSZ).
Partial Rock melting feature on outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Partial Rock melting feature on outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Partial Rock melting feature on outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Partial Rock melting feature on outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

strike slip fault 1 .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

                    strike slip fault 1 .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Rock bed feature .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Rock bed feature on outcrop .                              @World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Rock bed feature .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Rock bed feature .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Rock bed feature .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

 Rock bed feature .                              @World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Rock bed feature .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Rock bed feature .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Boudins on rock @World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Boudins on rock @World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Scoria obtained from outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

                  Scoria obtained from outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Scoria obtained from outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Scoria obtained from outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Scoria obtained from outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Scoria obtained from outcrop .@World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

A second look at the trajectories of the rivers and drainage mentioned above and the structural features on the outcrops indicate that the uplift is neotectonically induced rather than shear induced.During site exploration, the author found rocks of volcanic origin distributed randomly over the study area. Till this date, the geological community had approached volcanic/ neo tectonic activities in this area only through speculations without any physical, visible evidence. The presences of chunks of volcanic rocks are an acute visual evidence of an event of volcanic nature. Through this study, the author aims to analyze the extent of uplift and its impact on the drainage systems of the rivers on its either side and their divide migration possibilities. The neotectonic aspects of the region are analyzed and any solid evidence of active volcanism is collected and studied. The study is primarily aimed to report the existence of neotectonic activity in the south eastern coast of India.
Author
 Periyar University
Final Paper Number 388-12 View Related Events
Day: Wednesday, 25 October 2017 Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 49, No. 6doi: 10.1130/abs/2017AM-293786
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WFS facts: Why are fossilized hairs so rare?

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When most people hear the word fossil, they probably think of gigantic leg bones or sharp teeth. But, given the right conditions, after an animal dies even delicate body coverings like skin, hair and feathers can be preserved.

New research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that when it comes to preserving these body parts, fossilized hair is rare — five times rarer than feathers — despite being an important tool for understanding ancient species. This finding has researchers trying to determine if the lack of hair in the fossil record has to do with physical traits that might make it more difficult for hair to fossilize, or an issue with scientists’ collection techniques that could lead to them missing important finds.

“This pattern of where and when we do find fossilized feathers and hairs can be used to inform where we look for future fossil discoveries,” said first author Chad Eliason, a researcher at the Field Museum of Natural History who conducted the research while a postdoctoral fellow at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences.

The study was published on Sept. 6 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Co-authors include Julia Clarke, a professor in the Jackson School’s Department of Geological Sciences who led the study, and three Jackson School undergraduate students, Leah Hudson, Taylor Watts and Hector Garza.

Fossils of body coverings contain unique data on the ecology and lifestyle of extinct animals, including what color they might have been. They also might affect our understanding of when kinds of body coverings, such as feathers and hair, evolved. In this study, the researchers used data on fossil type and age to determine that hair probably evolved much earlier than current fossil samples indicate.

Fossil beds that preserve soft tissues like hair and feathers are called lagerstatte (‘fossil storehouses’ in German) and are rare on their own. The researchers were interested in understanding how frequently different types of body coverings were found preserved in these exceptional sites, which include the Yixian Formation in China and the Green River Formation in the western United States.

Eliason and his collaborators assembled the largest known database of fossilized body coverings, or integument, from land-dwelling vertebrates, a group known as tetrapods, collected from lagerstatte. They found that unlike feathers, hairs are extremely rare finds.

“Mammal hair has been around for more than 160 million years yet over that time we have very few records,” Eliason said.

This is a fossilized bird with some feathers intact. Credit: Julia Clarke/UT Austin

   This is a fossilized bird with some feathers intact.Credit: Julia Clarke/UT Austin

The rarity might be explained by feathers and hair containing different types of the protein keratin, which may impact the likelihood of fossilization. However, the study notes that the lack of hair samples could have nothing to do with fossilization, and be explained by the collecting behavior of paleontologists, with a single feather usually being much easier to identify than a single hair.

The database also allowed the researchers to conduct a type of statistical method called gap analysis, which models the probability of finding a fossil in a given time. The team found that feathers appear to have evolved very close to the earliest known examples in the fossil record, about 165 million years ago. However, hair and hair-like filaments found on pterosaurs probably evolved far earlier in the fossil record than currently known.

“The hunt is on,” said Clarke. “These data suggest we might expect to find records up to 100 million years earlier potentially.”

The team also applied a statistical approach called a time series analyses to study if climatic factors might explain gaps in the fossil record. They found that soft tissue preservation was most common when ancient sea levels were high.

“There is still a lot we don’t know about the chemistry of these deposits and why they are so uneven through time,” Clarke said. “But we can say that their uneven distribution across the world — most [sites] are in North America or Eurasia — is an artifact of where paleontologists looked. We have a lot more work to do.”

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  1. Chad M. Eliason, Leah Hudson, Taylor Watts, Hector Garza, Julia A. Clarke. Exceptional preservation and the fossil record of tetrapod integument. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2017; 284 (1862): 20170556 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0556
  2. University of Texas at Austin. “Why are fossilized hairs so rare?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170907142722.htm

WFS Facts: Toba catastrophe theory

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According to the Toba catastrophe theory, modern human evolution was affected by a recent, large volcanic event.

Within the last three to five million years, after human and other ape lineages diverged from the hominid stem-line, the human line produced a variety of human species.

Toba Super Eruption

 Toba Super Eruption

According to the Toba catastrophe theory, a massive volcanic eruption changed the course of human history by severely reducing the human population.

This may have occurred when around 70–75,000 years ago the Toba caldera in Indonesia underwent a category 8 or “mega-colossal” eruption on the Volcanic Explosivity Index.

This may have reduced the average global temperature by 3 to 3.5 degrees Celsius for several years and may possibly have triggered an ice age.

This massive environmental change is believed to have created population bottlenecks in the various species that existed at the time; this in turn accelerated differentiation of the isolated human populations, eventually leading to the extinction of all the other human species except for the branch that became modern humans.

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WFS News: ‘Living fossil fish’ not as old as we thought

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Polypterids are weird and puzzling African fish that have perplexed biologists since they were discovered during Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in the late 1700s.

Often called living fossils, these eel-like misfits have lungs and fleshy pectoral fins, bony plates and thick scales reminiscent of ancient fossil fish, and flag-like fins along their back that are unique.

For several decades, scientists have placed polypterids down near the base of the family tree of ray-finned fish, a large group believed to have originated around 385 million years ago.

But a new study that used CT scans to probe three-dimensionally preserved fossil fish skulls shakes up the fish family tree by concluding that the emergence of polypterids occurred much later than researchers had thought. The findings also suggest that the origin of all modern ray-finned fish may have occurred tens of millions of years later than is generally believed.

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The skull of a 250 million year old fossil fish and a virtual model of its internal skeleton, along with a life reconstruction. Credit: Andrey Atuchin

The skull of a 250 million year old fossil fish and a virtual model of its internal skeleton, along with a life reconstruction.Credit: Andrey Atuchin

The international research team was led by Sam Giles of the University of Oxford and includes University of Michigan paleontologist Matt Friedman. A paper summarizing the findings is scheduled for publication Aug. 30 in Nature.

“This causes a shakeup in the fish family tree, which indicates that the ancestor shared by all ray-finned fishes lived tens of millions of years after previously thought, maybe in the aftermath of a mass extinction event around 360 million years ago that decimated many other groups,” said Friedman, an associate curator at the U-M Museum of Paleontology and an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Ray-finned fish represent about half of all backboned animals on Earth. For every species of mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian on land, there is a species of bony fish in the ocean.

Polypterids include about a dozen species of African fish called bichirs and a single species of ropefish. They have long defied classification but are generally accepted to be the most primitive living ray-finned fish, separated from the other modern groups by a host of long-extinct fossil fish.

But the new CT study repositions polypterids on the fish evolutionary tree so they are “nestled neatly back more closely with other living ray-finned fishes, kicking a range of fossil ray-fins to a more distant branch of the evolutionary tree,” said Oxford’s Giles, first author of the Nature paper.

“These results change our understanding of when the largest living group of vertebrates evolved and allow us to iron out a lot of the wrinkles in our understanding of the sequence of evolutionary events.”

An enduring puzzle about polypterids has been the lack of early fossil evidence. The oldest fossil polypterids are just 90 million years old, leaving a gap of more than a quarter billion years in the fossil record. If polypterids are really as old scientists have believed, where’s the fossil evidence?

To get at some answers, the researchers examined high-definition computed tomography (CT) scans of Fukangichthys, a 230 million-year-old fossil fish from China that belongs to a widespread group of fossil fish called scanilepiforms.

Analysis of physical characteristics in three-dimensionally preserved Fukangichthys skulls, as well as an examination of DNA sequences from 12 genes, revealed that scanilepiforms are actually ancient cousins of polypterids. Scanilepiforms originated in the Triassic Period, 252 to 201 million years ago, when the first dinosaurs were evolving on land.

“While this finding extends the fossil record of polypterids, it also has some unexpected consequences,” U-M’s Friedman said. “It shows that many features of polypterids aren’t primitive at all, but rather are specializations that evolved later in their history.”

Said Oxford’s Giles: “Polypterids appear to have undergone several reversals in their evolution, which has clouded the view of their position in the fish family tree. It’s like if your brand new smart phone came with a rotary dialer and without Wi-Fi. We know it’s the latest handset, but its characteristics might lead us to thinking it’s an older model.”

This repositioning of the polypterids sends shock waves through the fish family tree and suggests that ray-finned fish may have emerged tens of millions of years later than scientists had thought, near the boundary between the Devonian and Carboniferous periods about 360 million years ago.

“Analyses like these are powerful tools and go to show that paleontology doesn’t always rely on the discovery of new fossils,” Giles said. “Re-examination of old fossils using new techniques is just as important for revitalizing our understanding of vertebrate evolution.”

The other authors of Nature paper are Guang-Hui Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Thomas Near of Yale University.

Giles was supported by a Junior Research Fellowship from Christ Church, Oxford, and a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship. Xu was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Near was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Bingham Oceanographic Fund from the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. Friedman was supported by a Philip Leverhulme Prize and a Leverhulme Trust Project Grant, and by U-M’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Museum of Paleontology, and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

  1. Sam Giles, Guang-Hui Xu, Thomas J. Near, Matt Friedman. Early members of ‘living fossil’ lineage imply later origin of modern ray-finned fishes. Nature, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nature23654
  2. University of Michigan. “Shaking up the fish family tree: ‘Living fossil’ not as old as we thought.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170830132232.htm

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WFS News: Machine learning predicts laboratory earthquakes

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By listening to the acoustic signal emitted by a laboratory-created earthquake, a computer science approach using machine learning can predict the time remaining before the fault fails.

“At any given instant, the noise coming from the lab fault zone provides quantitative information on when the fault will slip,” said Paul Johnson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory fellow and lead investigator on the research, which was published today in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The novelty of our work is the use of machine learning to discover and understand new physics of failure, through examination of the recorded auditory signal from the experimental setup. I think the future of earthquake physics will rely heavily on machine learning to process massive amounts of raw seismic data. Our work represents an important step in this direction,” he said.

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Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a two-dimensional tabletop simulator that models the buildup and release of stress along an artificial fault. In this image, the simulator is viewed through a polarized camera lens, photo-elastic plates reveal discrete points of stress buildup along both sides of the modeled fault as the far (upper) plate is moved laterally along the fault. Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a two-dimensional tabletop simulator that models the buildup and release of stress along an artificial fault. In this image, the simulator is viewed through a polarized camera lens, photo-elastic plates reveal discrete points of stress buildup along both sides of the modeled fault as the far (upper) plate is moved laterally along the fault.Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Not only does the work have potential significance to earthquake forecasting, Johnson said, but the approach is far-reaching, applicable to potentially all failure scenarios including nondestructive testing of industrial materials brittle failure of all kinds, avalanches and other events.

Machine learning is an artificial intelligence approach to allowing the computer to learn from new data, updating its own results to reflect the implications of new information.

The machine learning technique used in this project also identifies new signals, previously thought to be low-amplitude noise, that provide forecasting information throughout the earthquake cycle. “These signals resemble Earth tremor that occurs in association with slow earthquakes on tectonic faults in the lower crust,” Johnson said. “There is reason to expect such signals from Earth faults in the seismogenic zone for slowly slipping faults.”

Machine learning algorithms can predict failure times of laboratory quakes with remarkable accuracy. The acoustic emission (AE) signal, which characterizes the instantaneous physical state of the system, reliably predicts failure far into the future. This is a surprise, Johnson pointed out, as all prior work had assumed that only the catalog of large events is relevant, and that small fluctuations in the AE signal could be neglected.

To study the phenomena, the team analyzed data from a laboratory fault system that contains fault gouge, the ground-up material created by the stone blocks sliding past one another. An accelerometer recorded the acoustic emission emanating from the shearing layers.

Following a frictional failure in the labquake, the shearing block moves or displaces, while the gouge material simultaneously dilates and strengthens, as shown by measurably increasing shear stress and friction. “As the material approaches failure, it begins to show the characteristics of a critical stress regime, including many small shear failures that emit impulsive acoustic emissions,” Johnson described.

“This unstable state concludes with an actual labquake, in which the shearing block rapidly displaces, the friction and shear stress decrease precipitously, and the gouge layers simultaneously compact,” he said. Under a broad range of conditions, the apparatus slide-slips fairly regularly for hundreds of stress cycles during a single experiment. And importantly, the signal (due to the gouge grinding and creaking that ultimately leads to the impulsive precursors) allows prediction in the laboratory, and we hope will lead to advances in prediction in Earth, Johnson said.

  1. Bertrand Rouet-Leduc, Claudia L. Hulbert, Nicholas Lubbers, Kipton M. Barros, Colin J Humphreys, Paul A. Johnson. Machine learning predicts laboratory earthquakes. Geophysical Research Letters, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074677
  2. DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Machine-learning earthquake prediction in lab shows promise: Listening to faultline’s grumbling gives countdown to future quakes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170830122545.htm

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Forensic science techniques help discover new molecular fossils

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Researchers in Japan and China believe they have found new molecular fossils of archaea using a method of analysis commonly used in forensic science.

According to a system designed by microbiologist Carl Woese, there are three domains of life on Earth — Bacteria, Archaea and Eukaryota. To date, the distribution of archaea remains unclear especially for geologic periods dating back more than 2 million years. This is because except for halophilic, methanogenic and methanotrophic archaea, molecular fossils of archaea are rarely found, while those of bacteria and eukaryote are commonly found.

Studies of molecular clock suggest that archaea appeared around 3.8 billion years ago, while the results of more direct geological evidence from molecular fossils of archaea indicate a timeline of 0.2 billion years (with the exception of two records of 0.25 and approximately 2.7 billion years). The reason for the difference in timeframes could be due to the low biomass of archaea in earlier geologic periods, or to the lability of the molecular fossils, leading to decomposition.

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Outcrop found at sampling site China. Credit: Kunio Kaiho

Outcrop found at sampling site China.     Credit: Kunio Kaiho

A team led by Dr. Ryosuke Saito and Professor Kunio Kaiho of Tohoku University took sedimentary rock samples from southern China, and analyzed the organic molecules in them using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). They found new fossils among the molecular fossils of archaea.

This is the first study to detect diagenetic products using GC-MS, a conventional instrument found widely in organic geochemistry laboratories. GC-MS has been regarded as a “gold standard” for forensic substance identification and is used in drug detection, fire investigation, environmental analysis and explosives investigation. It’s also been used to identify extra-terrestrial samples.

Saito’s team is now studying the archaeal distribution on Earth more than 2 million years ago. They believe that by analyzing the fossils using the GC-MS method, it will be easier to find archaea in sedimentary rocks.

Archaeal molecular fossils (especially methanogenic archaea and methanotrophic archaea) can be preserved in samples deposited in cold seep even older than 200 million years because the biomass of archaea in such environments is huge. Among archaea, molecular fossils of halophilic archaea are often preserved in samples from earlier periods because of their high stability.

  1. Ryosuke Saito, Kunio Kaiho, Masahiro Oba, Jinnan Tong, Zhong-Qiang Chen, Li Tian, Satoshi Takahashi, Megumu Fujibayashi. Tentative identification of diagenetic products of cyclic biphytanes in sedimentary rocks from the uppermost Permian and Lower Triassic. Organic Geochemistry, 2017; 111: 144 DOI: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2017.04.013
  2. Tohoku University. “Forensic science techniques help discover new molecular fossils.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170831091431.htm

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WFS News: Construction crew finds rare triceratops fossil

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Construction crews working on Thornton’s new Public Safety Facility uncovered a rare dinosaur fossil.

triceratops fossil in Thornton

Triceratops fossil in Thornton

Crews working at the site at 132nd Avenue and Quebec Street made uncovered what appeared to be a triceratops skull and skeleton on Friday.

Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science went to the site and confirmed the find.

“My heart was racing,” DMNS Curator of Dinosaurs Joe Sertich said in a statement released to the media. “I realized it was a pretty important dinosaur find.”

“This is probably one of only three skulls of triceratops found along the Front Range area,” Sertich said.

Most fossil finds along the Front Range are from the Ice Age, just 10 to 12-thousand years old, but this fossil is much older, and much rarer, according to Sertich.

“This dinosaur has been laying here for at least 66-million years,” says Sertich. “I’m over the moon right now about this dinosaur fossil.”

Sertich said they were “really lucky” the bones were recognized as fossils.

“A lot of times these will be plowed up and they won’t be recognized,” says Sertich.

Construction crews have stopped work in the area of the fossil, officials with the City of Thornton confirmed.

“The DMNS scientists will stabilize the area, carefully expose the fossil, look for any other bones that remain uncovered, and safely extract them,” city officials stated.

Scientists hope to eventually house the fossil at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

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Source:Article By Anica Padilla

Lagenanectes richterae: Ancient sea reptile found in Germany

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 A previously unrecognized 132 million-year-old fossilized sea monster from northern Germany has been identified by an international team of researchers. Findings published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The bizarre sea creature was a plesiosaur, an extinct long-necked aquatic reptile resembling the popular image of the Loch Ness monster, which dominated the seas during the Age of Dinosaurs.

The remains of the eight-meter-long skeleton were collected in 1964 by private fossil collectors. The perfectly preserved bones were rescued from heavy machinery excavating a clay-pit at Sarstedt near Hannover.

Despite being discovered nearly half a century ago, a group of international scientists was only recently invited to study the specimen by the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hannover. “It was an honor to be asked to research the mysterious Sarstedt plesiosaur skeleton” says Sven Sachs from the Natural History Museum in Bielefeld, Germany, and lead author on the study. “It has been one of the hidden jewels of the museum, and even more importantly, has turned out to be new to science.”

Skull reconstruction of Lagenanectes richterae. Credit: Jahn Hornung

Skull reconstruction of Lagenanectes richterae.Credit: Jahn Hornung

The new plesiosaur was named Lagenanectes richterae, literally meaning ‘Lagena swimmer’, after the medieval German name for the Leine River near Sarstedt. The species was named for Dr Annette Richter, Chief Curator of Natural Sciences at the Lower Saxony State Museum, who facilitated documentation of the fossil.

The skeleton of Lagenanectes includes most of the skull, which had a meshwork of long fang-like teeth, together with vertebrae, ribs and bones from the four flipper-like limbs.

“The jaws had some especially unusual features.” says Dr Jahn Hornung a palaeontologist based in Hamburg and co-author on the paper. “Its broad chin was expanded into a massive jutting crest, and its lower teeth stuck out sideways. These probably served to trap small fish and squid that were then swallowed whole.”

Internal channels in the upper jaws might have housed nerves linked to pressure receptors or electroreceptors on the outside of the snout that would have helped Lagenanectes to locate its prey.

The bones also showed evidence of chronic bacterial infection suggesting that the animal had suffered from a long-term disease that perhaps eventually claimed its life.

“The most important aspect of this new plesiosaur is that it is amongst the oldest of its kind” says Dr Benjamin Kear from the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala University in Sweden and senior author on the study. “It is one of the earliest elasmosaurs, an extremely successful group of globally distributed plesiosaurs that seem to have had their evolutionary origins in the seas that once inundated Western Europe.”

Elasmosaurs had spectacularly long necks — the longest of any vertebrate — including up to 75 individual vertebrae. Not all of the neck vertebrae of Lagenanectes were recovered but it is estimated that around 40 or 50 must have originally been present.

Elasmosaurs flourished during the Cretaceous period but went extinct with the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Lagenanectes lived in a shallow sea that covered northern Germany around 132 million years ago. It thus predates the last elasmosaurs by nearly 70 million years.

The skull of Lagenanectes will be displayed as a centerpiece in the ‘Water Worlds’ exhibition at the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hannover.

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  1. Sven Sachs, Jahn J. Hornung, Benjamin P. Kear. A new basal elasmosaurid (Sauropterygia: Plesiosauria) from the Lower Cretaceous of Germany. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 2017; e1301945 DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2017.1301945
  2. Uppsala University. “New ancient sea reptile found in Germany, the earliest of its kind.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170828093918.htm

Shingopana songwensis: A new species of titanosaurian dinosaur

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Paleontologists have identified a new species of titanosaurian dinosaur. The research is reported in a paper published this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The new species is a member of the gigantic, long-necked sauropods. Its fossil remains were recovered from Cretaceous Period (70-100 million years ago) rocks in southwestern Tanzania.

Titanosaur skeletons have been found worldwide, but are best known from South America. Fossils in this group are rare in Africa.

The new dinosaur is called Shingopana songwensis, derived from the Swahili term “shingopana” for “wide neck”; the fossils were discovered in the Songwe region of the Great Rift Valley in southwestern Tanzania.

Excavation of Shingopana songwensis showing ribs and other bones being prepared for plaster-jacketing. Credit: Nancy Stevens

Excavation of Shingopana songwensis showing ribs and other bones being prepared for plaster-jacketing.Credit: Nancy Stevens

Part of the Shingopana skeleton was excavated in 2002 by scientists affiliated with the Rukwa Rift Basin Project, an international effort led by Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine researchers Patrick O’Connor and Nancy Stevens.

Additional portions of the skeleton — including neck vertebrae, ribs, a humerus and part of the lower jaw — were later recovered.

“There are anatomical features present only in Shingopana and in several South American titanosaurs, but not in other African titanosaurs,” said lead paper author Eric Gorscak, a paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. “Shingopana had siblings in South America, whereas other African titanosaurs were only distant cousins.”

The team conducted phylogenetic analyses to understand the evolutionary relationships of these and other titanosaurs.

They found that Shingopana was more closely related to titanosaurs of South America than to any of the other species currently known from Africa or elsewhere.

“This discovery suggests that the fauna of northern and southern Africa were very different in the Cretaceous Period,” said Judy Skog, a program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, which supported the research. “At that time, southern Africa dinosaurs were more closely related to those in South America, and were more widespread than we knew.”

Shingopana roamed the Cretaceous landscape alongside Rukwatitan bisepultus, another titanosaur the team described and named in 2014.

“We’re still only scratching the surface of understanding the diversity of organisms, and the environments in which they lived, on the African continent during the Late Cretaceous,” said O’Connor.

During the tectonically active Cretaceous Period, southern Africa lost Madagascar and Antarctica as they split off to the east and south, followed by the gradual northward “unzipping” of South America.

Northern Africa maintained a land connection with South America, but southern Africa slowly became more isolated until the continents completely separated 95-105 million years ago. Other factors such as terrain and climate may have further isolated southern Africa.

Paper co-author Eric Roberts of James Cook University in Australia studied the paleo-environmental context of the new discovery.

The bones of Shingopana, he found, were damaged by the borings of ancient insects shortly after death.

Roberts said that “the presence of bone-borings provides a CSI-like opportunity to study the skeleton and reconstruct the timing of death and burial, and offers rare evidence of ancient insects and complex food webs during the age of the dinosaurs.”

The study was also funded by the National Geographic Society, Jurassic Foundation, Paleontological Society, Ohio University Student Enhancement Award, Ohio University Original Work Grant, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, and James Cook University.

Citation: National Science Foundation. “New species of sauropod dinosaur discovered in Tanzania: Fossil remains recovered from 70 to 100 million-year-old rocks in southwestern Tanzania.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170825163934.htm>.

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

WFS News: New Suggestions on Andean Plateau

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

Seismologists investigating how Earth forms new continental crust have compiled more than 20 years of seismic data from a wide swath of South America’s Andean Plateau and determined that processes there have produced far more continental rock than previously believed.

“When crust from an oceanic tectonic plate plunges beneath a continental tectonic plate, as it does beneath the Andean Plateau, it brings water with it and partially melts the mantle, the layer below Earth’s crust,” said Rice University’s Jonathan Delph, co-author of the new study published online this week in Scientific Reports. “The less dense melt rises, and one of two things happens: It either stalls in the crust to crystallize in formations called plutons or reaches the surface through volcanic eruptions.”

A true-color image of the Central Andes and surrounding landscape acquired by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), flying aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft. Credit: Image courtesy of NASA

A true-color image of the Central Andes and surrounding landscape acquired by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), flying aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft.Credit: Image courtesy of NASA

Delph, a Wiess Postdoctoral Research Associate in Rice’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science, said the findings suggest that mountain-forming regions like the Andean Plateau, which geologists refer to as “orogenic plateaus,” could produce much larger volumes of continental rock in less time than previously believed.

Study lead author Kevin Ward, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah, said, “When we compared the amount of trapped plutonic rock beneath the plateau with the amount of erupted volcanic rock at the surface, we found the ratio was almost 30:1. That means 30 times more melt gets stuck in the crust than is erupted, which is about six times higher than what’s generally believed to be the average. That’s a tremendous amount of new material that has been added to the crust over a relatively short time period.”

The Andean Plateau covers much of Bolivia and parts of Peru, Chile and Argentina. Its average height is more than 12,000 feet, and though it is smaller than Asia’s Tibetan Plateau, different geologic processes created the Andean Plateau. The mountain-building forces at work in the Andean plateau are believed to be similar to those that worked along the western coast of the U.S. some 50 million years ago, and Delph said it’s possible that similar forces were at work along the coastlines of continents throughout Earth’s history.

Most of the rocks that form Earth’s crust initially came from partial melts of the mantle. If the melt erupts quickly, it forms basalt, which makes up the crust beneath the oceans on Earth; but there are still questions about how continental crust, which is more buoyant than oceanic crust, is formed. Delph said he and Ward began their research in 2016 as they were completing their Ph.D.s at the University of Arizona. The pair spent several months combining public datasets from seismic experiments by several U.S. and German institutions. Seismic energy travels through different types of rock at different speeds, and by combining datasets that covered a 500-mile-wide swath of the Andean Plateau, Ward and Delph were able to resolve large plutonic volumes that had previously been seen only in pieces.

Over the past 11 million years, volcanoes have erupted thousands of cubic miles’ worth of material over much of the Andean Plateau. Ward and Delph calculated their plutonic-to-volcanic ratio by comparing the volume of regions where seismic waves travel extremely slowly beneath volcanically active regions, indicating some melt is present, with the volume of rock deposited on the surface by volcanoes.

“Orogenic oceanic-continental subduction zones have been common as long as modern plate tectonics have been active,” Delph said. “Our findings suggest that processes similar to those we observe in the Andes, along with the formation of supercontinents, could have been a significant contributor to the episodic formation of buoyant continental crust.”

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

 

  1. Kevin M. Ward, Jonathan R. Delph, George Zandt, Susan L. Beck, Mihai N. Ducea. Magmatic evolution of a Cordilleran flare-up and its role in the creation of silicic crust. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-09015-5
  2. Kevin M. Ward, Jonathan R. Delph, George Zandt, Susan L. Beck, Mihai N. Ducea. Magmatic evolution of a Cordilleran flare-up and its role in the creation of silicic crust. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-09015-5
  3. Citation: Rice University. “More than expected hidden beneath Andean Plateau: Seismic data suggests means of producing massive volumes of continental crust.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170823131226.htm