Plate tectonics, seaways and climate in the historical biogeography of mammals.
The marsupial and placental mammals originated at a time when the pattern of geographical barriers (oceans, shallow seas and mountains) was very different from that of today, and climates were warmer. The sequence of changes in these barriers, and their effects on the dispersal of the mammal families and on the faunas of mammals in the different continents, are reviewed. The mammal fauna of South America changed greatly in the Pliocene/Pleistocene, when the newly-complete Panama Isthmus allowed the North American fauna to enter the continent and replace most of the former South American mammal families. Marsupial, but not placental, mammals reached Australia via Antarctica before Australia became isolated, while rats and bats are the only placentals that dispersed naturally from Asia to Australia in the late Cenozoic. Little is known of the early history of the mammal fauna of India. A few mammal families reached Madagascar from Africa in the early Cenozoic over a chain of islands. Africa was isolated for much of the early Cenozoic, though some groups did succeed in entering from Europe. Before the climate cooled in the mid-Cenozoic, the mammal faunas of the Northern Hemisphere were much richer than those of today. (+info)
Acute community-acquired bacterial sinusitis: the value of antimicrobial treatment and the natural history.
Two areas of investigation were reviewed: (1) placebo-controlled trials of antimicrobial treatment involving patients with a clinical diagnosis of acute community-acquired bacterial sinusitis (ACABS) for whom pre- and posttherapy sinus aspirate cultures were not performed, and (2) uncontrolled trials of antimicrobial treatment involving patients with ACABS for whom pre- and posttherapy sinus aspirate cultures were performed. The clinical diagnostic criteria in the controlled trials were not correlated with sinus aspirate culture results and, thus, were of questionable validity. Most of the populations probably included patients with viral rhinosinusitis. In 10 uncontrolled studies, the posttreatment, weighted, pooled mean bacterial resolution rate (+/- standard error) at 7-10 days, based on sinus aspirate culture results, was 91%+/-10%. In 9 controlled trials, the weighted pooled mean rate of clinical improvement (+/- standard deviation) at 7-14 days for placebo recipients was 52%+/-18%. In 1 controlled trial in which diagnosis was based on duration of unimproved illness, 57% of placebo recipients and 85.5% of treated patients were healthy or had improved by day 10. Additional studies of ACABS are needed. (+info)
Chicxulub impact predates the K-T boundary mass extinction.
Since the early l990s the Chicxulub crater on Yucatan, Mexico, has been hailed as the smoking gun that proves the hypothesis that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs and caused the mass extinction of many other organisms at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary 65 million years ago. Here, we report evidence from a previously uninvestigated core, Yaxcopoil-1, drilled within the Chicxulub crater, indicating that this impact predated the K-T boundary by approximately 300,000 years and thus did not cause the end-Cretaceous mass extinction as commonly believed. The evidence supporting a pre-K-T age was obtained from Yaxcopoil-1 based on five independent proxies, each with characteristic signals across the K-T transition: sedimentology, biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, stable isotopes, and iridium. These data are consistent with earlier evidence for a late Maastrichtian age of the microtektite deposits in northeastern Mexico. (+info)
Environmental mutagenesis during the end-Permian ecological crisis.
During the end-Permian ecological crisis, terrestrial ecosystems experienced preferential dieback of woody vegetation. Across the world, surviving herbaceous lycopsids played a pioneering role in repopulating deforested terrain. We document that the microspores of these lycopsids were regularly released in unseparated tetrads indicative of failure to complete the normal process of spore development. Although involvement of mutation has long been hinted at or proposed in theory, this finding provides concrete evidence for chronic environmental mutagenesis at the time of global ecological crisis. Prolonged exposure to enhanced UV radiation could account satisfactorily for a worldwide increase in land plant mutation. At the end of the Permian, a period of raised UV stress may have been the consequence of severe disruption of the stratospheric ozone balance by excessive emission of hydrothermal organohalogens in the vast area of Siberian Traps volcanism. (+info)
Lack of phylogeography in European mammals before the last glaciation.
In many extant animal and plant species in Europe and North America a correlation exists between the geographical location of individuals and the genetic relatedness of the mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequences that they carry. Here, we analyze mtDNA sequences from cave bears, brown bears, cave hyenas, and Neandertals in Europe before the last glacial maximum and fail to detect any phylogeographic patterns similar to those observed in extant species. We suggest that at the beginning of the last glacial maximum, little phylogeographic patterns existed in European mammals over most of their geographical ranges and that current phylogeographic patterns are transient relics of the last glaciation. Cycles of retreat of species in refugia during glacial periods followed by incomplete dispersal from one refugium into other refugia during interglacial periods is likely to be responsible for the deep genetic divergences between phylogeographic clusters of mtDNA seen today. (+info)
H2-rich fluids from serpentinization: geochemical and biotic implications.
Metamorphic hydration and oxidation of ultramafic rocks produces serpentinites, composed of serpentine group minerals and varying amounts of brucite, magnetite, and/or FeNi alloys. These minerals buffer metamorphic fluids to extremely reducing conditions that are capable of producing hydrogen gas. Awaruite, FeNi3, forms early in this process when the serpentinite minerals are Fe-rich. Olivine with the current mantle Fe/Mg ratio was oxidized during serpentinization after the Moon-forming impact. This process formed some of the ferric iron in the Earth's mantle. For the rest of Earth's history, serpentinites covered only a small fraction of the Earth's surface but were an important prebiotic and biotic environment. Extant methanogens react H2 with CO2 to form methane. This is a likely habitable environment on large silicate planets. The catalytic properties of FeNi3 allow complex organic compounds to form within serpentinite and, when mixed with atmospherically produced complex organic matter and waters that circulated through basalts, constitutes an attractive prebiotic substrate. Conversely, inorganic catalysis of methane by FeNi3 competes with nascent and extant life. (+info)
The rise of the ants: a phylogenetic and ecological explanation.
In the past two decades, studies of anatomy, behavior, and, most recently, DNA sequences have clarified the phylogeny of the ants at the subfamily and generic levels. In addition, a rich new harvest of Cretaceous and Paleogene fossils has helped to date the major evolutionary radiations. We collate this information and then add data from the natural history of the modern fauna to sketch a history of major ecological adaptations at the subfamily level. The key events appear to have been, first, a mid-Cretaceous initial radiation in forest ground litter and soil coincident with the rise of the angiosperms (flowering plants), then a Paleogene advance to ecological dominance in concert with that of the angiosperms in tropical forests, and, finally, an expansion of some of the lineages, aided by changes in diet away from dependence on predation, upward into the canopy, and outward into more xeric environments. (+info)
Morphological innovation through gene regulation: an example from Devonian Onychodontiform fish.
The recent development of novel phenotypic designs by changes in gene regulation has been extensively discussed within the context of evolution and development. The fossil record shows many new designs (or body plans) which appear rapidly at various stratigraphic levels. One example of this is the arrival of the lobe finned fish in the Early Devonian, when a great variety of new forms appeared. These include the dipnoans, the onychodontids, the porolepiforms and the osteolepiforms, which differ widely in a number of characters. Each of these groups originated from an unspecified sarcopterygian source and they have since evolved independently. They also carry over the primitive genes of the parent or parents and similar changes in these genes will not produce synapomorphies between members of the different lineages. Unless care is exercised, homoplasies will be used as synapomorphies. Evidence must be found to find groups of features that define uniform functional entities. These define monophyletic groups. Recognition of homoplasy of characters thus becomes important. The study of the new functional structures and the areas from which they were derived by changes in gene regulation, would give us more evolutionary information. (+info)