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Geosciences, Volume 2, Issue 2 (June 2012), Pages 11-146

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Cenozoic Mammals and Climate Change: The Contrast between Coarse-Scale versus High-Resolution Studies Explained by Species Sorting
Geosciences 2012, 2(2), 25-41; doi:10.3390/geosciences2020025
Received: 9 March 2012 / Revised: 29 March 2012 / Accepted: 9 April 2012 / Published: 13 April 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1232 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many paleontologists have noticed the broadly similar patterns between the changes in Cenozoic mammalian diversity and taxonomic dominance and climate changes. Yet detailed studies of fossil population samples with fine-scale temporal resolution during episodes of climate change like the Eocene-Oligocene transition in [...] Read more.
Many paleontologists have noticed the broadly similar patterns between the changes in Cenozoic mammalian diversity and taxonomic dominance and climate changes. Yet detailed studies of fossil population samples with fine-scale temporal resolution during episodes of climate change like the Eocene-Oligocene transition in the White River Group, and the late Pleistocene at Rancho La Brea tar pits, demonstrates that most fossil mammal species are static and show no significant microevolutionary response to major climate changes. This mismatch between patterns seems best explained by species sorting. As the punctuated equilibrium model demonstrated, over long time spans most fossil species are stable and do not respond to climate change. Instead, change occurs at the next hierarchical level, with species sorting adding and subtracting to the total diversity pattern revealed by coarse-scale taxon counting, apparently responding to longer-term changes in climate as revealed by proxies like the oxygen isotope record. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paleontology and Geo/Biological Evolution)
Open AccessArticle Distribution and Diversity of Carboniferous and Permian Colonial Rugose Coral Faunas in Western North America: Clues for Placement of Allochthonous Terranes
Geosciences 2012, 2(2), 42-63; doi:10.3390/geosciences2020042
Received: 3 April 2012 / Revised: 25 April 2012 / Accepted: 2 May 2012 / Published: 10 May 2012
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Abstract
Colonial rugose corals are common in western cratonal North America and in some of the allochthonous terranes, now amalgamated against its western margin. Throughout the Late Paleozoic, the coral faunas in these two different settings were significantly different. Comparisons of these faunas [...] Read more.
Colonial rugose corals are common in western cratonal North America and in some of the allochthonous terranes, now amalgamated against its western margin. Throughout the Late Paleozoic, the coral faunas in these two different settings were significantly different. Comparisons of these faunas suggest that during the Mississippian the Alexander terrane probably was southwest of Arctic Alaska and the Stikine terrane probably lay west of the southern part of the North American craton. The Cache Creek terrane lay far out in the Paleopacific Ocean. The Pennsylvanian faunas suggest that the Quesnellia and Eastern Klamath terranes were situated southwest of Arctic Alaska and the Alexander terrane was somewhat farther southwest and farther from cratonal North America. The Stikine terrane continued to be positioned west of the southern part of the North American craton. During the Early Permian, terranes with a cratonal faunal aspect may have lain 2000–3000 km west of cratonal North America and latitudinally generally southwest of their present positions. In the Middle Permian these terranes were carried southward relative to the North American craton. Simultaneously the Tethyan Realm expanded eastward. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paleontology and Geo/Biological Evolution)
Open AccessArticle Early Silurian (Aeronian) East Point Coral Patch Reefs of Anticosti Island, Eastern Canada: First Reef Recovery from the Ordovician/Silurian Mass Extinction in Eastern Laurentia
Geosciences 2012, 2(2), 64-89; doi:10.3390/geosciences2020064
Received: 5 April 2012 / Revised: 11 May 2012 / Accepted: 15 May 2012 / Published: 24 May 2012
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (3444 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An extensive late Aeronian patch reef swarm outcrops for 60–70 km on Anticosti Island, eastern Canada, located in the inner to mid-shelf area of a prominent tropical carbonate platform of southeastern Laurentia, at 20°–25° S paleolatitude of the southern typhoon belt. This [...] Read more.
An extensive late Aeronian patch reef swarm outcrops for 60–70 km on Anticosti Island, eastern Canada, located in the inner to mid-shelf area of a prominent tropical carbonate platform of southeastern Laurentia, at 20°–25° S paleolatitude of the southern typhoon belt. This complex, described here for the first time, includes more than 100 patch reefs, up to 60–80 m in diameter and 10 m high. Reefs are exposed three-dimensionally on present-day tidal flats, as well as inland along roads and rivers. Down the gentle 1°–2° paleoslope, the reefs grade into coral-sponge biostromes, and westerly they grade into inter-reef or deeper ‘crinoidal meadow’ facies. The reef builders were dominantly tabulate and rugose corals, with lesser stromatoporoids. Other components include crinoids, brachiopods, green algae (especially paleoporellids), and encrusting cyanobacteria: reefs display some of the earliest known symbiotic intergrowths of corals and stromatoporoids. Reefs were variably built on a base of crinoidal grainstones, meadows of baffling tabulate corals, brachiopod shells, or chlorophytes. These reefs mark an early phase of reef recovery after a prominent reef gap of 5–6 million years following the Ordovician/Silurian mass extinction events. The reefs feature a maximal diversity of calcifying cyanobacteria, corals and stromatoporoids, but low diversity of brachiopods, nautiloids and crinoids. Following the North American Stratigraphic Code, we define herein the Menier Formation, encompassing the lower two members of the existing Jupiter Formation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paleontology and Geo/Biological Evolution)
Open AccessArticle Squalicorax Chips a Tooth: A Consequence of Feeding-Related Behavior from the Lowermost Navesink Formation (Late Cretaceous: Campanian-Maastrichtian) of Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA
Geosciences 2012, 2(2), 109-129; doi:10.3390/geosciences2020109
Received: 6 March 2012 / Revised: 20 April 2012 / Accepted: 23 May 2012 / Published: 30 May 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1347 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Chipped and broken functional teeth are common in modern sharks with serrated tooth shape. Tooth damage consists of splintering, cracking, and flaking near the cusp apex where the enameloid is broken and exposes the osteodentine and orthodentine. Such damage is generally viewed [...] Read more.
Chipped and broken functional teeth are common in modern sharks with serrated tooth shape. Tooth damage consists of splintering, cracking, and flaking near the cusp apex where the enameloid is broken and exposes the osteodentine and orthodentine. Such damage is generally viewed as the result of forces applied during feeding as the cusp apex impacts the skeletal anatomy of prey. Damage seen in serrated functional teeth from sharks Squalicorax kaupi [1] and Squalicorax pristodontus [1] from the late Cretaceous lowermost Navesink Formation of New Jersey resembles that occurring in modern sharks and suggests similar feeding behavior. Tumbling experiments using serrated modern and fossil functional shark teeth, including those of Squalicorax, show that teeth are polished, not cracked or broken, by post-mortem abrasion in lowermost Navesink sediment. This provides further evidence that chipped and broken Squalicorax teeth are feeding-related and not taphonomic in origin. Evolution of rapid tooth replacement in large sharks such as Squalicorax ensured maximum functionality after feeding-related tooth damage occurred. Serrated teeth and rapid tooth replacement in the large sharks of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic afforded them competitive advantages that helped them to achieve their place as apex predators in today’s ocean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paleontology and Geo/Biological Evolution)
Open AccessArticle Evolving Phytoplankton Stoichiometry Fueled Diversification of the Marine Biosphere
Geosciences 2012, 2(2), 130-146; doi:10.3390/geosciences2020130
Received: 29 March 2012 / Revised: 9 May 2012 / Accepted: 22 May 2012 / Published: 31 May 2012
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (571 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The availability of nutrients and the quantity and quality of food at the base of food webs have largely been ignored in discussions of the Phanerozoic record of biodiversity. We examine the role of nutrient availability and phytoplankton stoichiometry (the relative proportions [...] Read more.
The availability of nutrients and the quantity and quality of food at the base of food webs have largely been ignored in discussions of the Phanerozoic record of biodiversity. We examine the role of nutrient availability and phytoplankton stoichiometry (the relative proportions of inorganic nutrients to carbon) in the diversification of the marine biosphere. Nutrient availability and phytoplankton stoichiometry played a critical role in the initial diversification of the marine biosphere during the Neoproterozoic. Initial biosphere expansion during this time resulted in the massive sequestration of nutrients into biomass which, along with the geologically slow input of nutrients from land, set the stage for severe nutrient limitation and relatively constant marine biodiversity during the rest of the Paleozoic. Given the slow nutrient inputs from land and low recycling rates, the growth of early-to-middle Paleozoic metazoans remained limited by their having to expend energy to first “burn off” (respire) excess carbon in food before the associated nutrients could be utilized for growth and reproduction; the relative equilibrium in marine biodiversity during the Paleozoic therefore appears to be real. Limited nutrient availability and the consequent nutrient imbalance may have delayed the appearance of more advanced carnivores until the Permo-Carboniferous, when widespread orogeny, falling sea level, the spread of forests, greater weathering rates, enhanced ocean circulation, oxygenation, and upwelling all combined to increase nutrient availability. During the Meso-Cenozoic, rising oxygen levels, the continued nutrient input from land, and, especially, increasing rates of bioturbation, enhanced nutrient availability, increasing the nutrient content of phytoplankton that fueled the diversification of the Modern Fauna. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paleontology and Geo/Biological Evolution)

Review

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Open AccessReview Cretaceous Ichthyosaurs: Dwindling Diversity, or the Empire Strikes Back?
Geosciences 2012, 2(2), 11-24; doi:10.3390/geosciences2020011
Received: 5 March 2012 / Revised: 19 March 2012 / Accepted: 30 March 2012 / Published: 12 April 2012
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (260 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Recent descriptions of new taxa and recognition of survivorship of Jurassic genera across the Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary bring the total number of Cretaceous ichthyosaur genera to eight. Taxa currently known from the Cretaceous include Ophthalmosaurus, Caypullisaurus, Aegirosaurus, Platypterygius, Maiaspondylus, Athabascasaurus, Sveltonectes, and Acamptonectes [...] Read more.
Recent descriptions of new taxa and recognition of survivorship of Jurassic genera across the Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary bring the total number of Cretaceous ichthyosaur genera to eight. Taxa currently known from the Cretaceous include Ophthalmosaurus, Caypullisaurus, Aegirosaurus, Platypterygius, Maiaspondylus, Athabascasaurus, Sveltonectes, and Acamptonectes. This review summarizes the occurrence of all Cretaceous genera. A discussion of morphological diversity demonstrates the different, though overlapping, ecological niches occupied by the different taxa, while the comparison of phylogenetic hypotheses shows the problems inherent in understanding the evolutionary relationships between Cretaceous genera. The Late Jurassic radiation indicated in the competing phylogenetic hypotheses may correlate with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean or additional dispersal routes established by the breakup of Gondwana. Inclusion of the stratigraphically oldest Platypterygius species may aid in resolving these evolutionary relationships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paleontology and Geo/Biological Evolution)
Open AccessReview The Location and Styles of Ice-Free “Oases” during Neoproterozoic Glaciations with Evolutionary Implications
Geosciences 2012, 2(2), 90-108; doi:10.3390/geosciences2020090
Received: 13 March 2012 / Revised: 10 April 2012 / Accepted: 17 May 2012 / Published: 29 May 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1495 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Evidence based on molecular clocks, together with molecular evidence/biomarkers and putative body fossils, points to major evolutionary events prior to and during the intense Cryogenian and Ediacaran glaciations. The glaciations themselves were of global extent. Sedimentological evidence, including hummocky cross-stratification (representing ice-free [...] Read more.
Evidence based on molecular clocks, together with molecular evidence/biomarkers and putative body fossils, points to major evolutionary events prior to and during the intense Cryogenian and Ediacaran glaciations. The glaciations themselves were of global extent. Sedimentological evidence, including hummocky cross-stratification (representing ice-free seas affected by intra-glacial storms), dropstone textures, microbial mat-bearing ironstones, ladderback ripples, and wave ripples, militates against a “hard” Snowball Earth event. Each piece of sedimentological evidence potentially allows insight into the shape and location, with respect to the shoreline, of ice-free areas (“oases”) that may be viewed as potential refugia. The location of such oases must be seen in the context of global paleogeography, and it is emphasized that continental reconstructions at 600 Ma (about 35 millions years after the “Marinoan” ice age) are non-unique solutions. Specifically, whether continents such as greater India, Australia/East Antarctica, Kalahari, South and North China, and Siberia, were welded to a southern supercontinent or not, has implications for island speciation, faunal exchange, and the development of endemism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paleontology and Geo/Biological Evolution)

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