Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EARLY EARTH
Ancient animal thought to be first air breather on land loses claim to fame
by Staff Writers
Austin TX (SPX) Jul 07, 2017


These are examples of zircon grains used in a University of Texas at Austin study that showed the animal thought to be the oldest land-based air breather is younger than thought. Grain numbers and ages are indicated by the numbers. Credit University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences

Some good scientific sleuthing by an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin has helped rewrite one of the earliest chapters in the planet's evolutionary history. The research, led by the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, has shown that the millipede thought to be the world's oldest known air-breathing land creature is in fact about 14 million years younger than previously thought and cannot be the original land breather.

The paper was published June 28 in the journal PLOS ONE. The study focuses on a species of millipede called Pneumodesmus newmani, which was thought to have been breathing air on solid ground during the late Silurian period some 428 million years ago. All other animal fossils discovered before this time have been from animals that lived and breathed under water.

The millipede fossil was discovered by an amateur paleontologist in 2004 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and dated by testing plant spores in sediment found in the general area, a method that contains a significant amount of scientific uncertainty compared with radiometric dating methods, said Elizabeth Catlos, a study author and associate professor in the Jackson School's Department of Geological Sciences.

"The 428 million year age wasn't obtained using radiometric techniques because no one could get the radioactive minerals out of these soils," she said.

Catlos, who obtained the soil samples from co-author Michael Brookfield of the University of Massachusetts Boston, tasked Jackson School senior Stephanie Suarez, the paper's lead author, with finding grain-sized zircons in the sediment that could be dated in the Jackson School's Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. Zircons are minerals that trap radioactive elements inside of them when they form, which can help scientists more accurately determine the age of rock or sediment where they're found.

The zircon samples were from ancient volcanic ash beds directly above and below where the millipede specimen was found. Brookfield, who is from Scotland, said he has been collecting samples from the area since he was a teenager and has long been interested in more precisely dating the sediment where the well-known specimen was discovered.

This job was particularly challenging because the clay sediment Brookfield sent to the Jackson School was loose in plastic bags and unlike the solid rock that Catlos is used to studying. Suarez, who was introduced to the geosciences in high school as part to the Jackson School's GeoFORCE outreach program, initially tried the standard method of heavy mineral separation, which involves crushing the rock and using bromoform (an organic solvent) to separate out heavier minerals.

"When I attempted it, the ashes clumped together, and no zircons sank to the bottom," she said. "It was very messy and unsuccessful."

Undeterred, Suarez combed scientific literature looking for ideas and came across a 2014 study led by Gregory Hoke of Syracuse University that pioneered a method of isolating nonclay components from clay-rich material by constructing and using an ultrasonic clay separator.

"I had to get creative," Suarez said. "We have a very small sonicator in our lab that we use to clean thin sections. I used that, a Tupperware container and some hydrogen peroxide. It worked. I was very excited."

Ultimately, Suarez was able to collect 74 zircons to be analyzed and dated. More than 10 of the zircons were younger than 428 million years ago, with the youngest being about 414 million years old. This places the specimen in a completely different geologic era, the Devonian, a classification that bursts the millipede's uniqueness. Many fossils of land-breathing organisms, mainly insects and arthropods, have been recovered from this era.

Catlos expects the results to raise a few eyebrows, but she said the beauty of published science is that others can replicate the experiment. The handful of zircons found to be younger than 428 million years old definitely show that the Pneumodesmus newmani specimen was not the first organism on Earth to breathe air while on land.

"This wasn't it," Catlos said. "We have to keep looking."

EARLY EARTH
Dinosaurs' loss was frogs' gain: The upside of a mass extinction
Berkeley CA (SPX) Jul 07, 2017
Most of the frogs alive today owe a big thank you to the asteroid or comet that delivered the coup de grace to the dinosaurs. A new study by Chinese and American biologists shows that if the calamity had not wiped the planet clean of most terrestrial life 66 million years ago, 88 percent of today's frog species wouldn't be here. Nearly nine out of 10 species of frog today have descended fr ... read more

Related Links
University of Texas at Austin
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EARLY EARTH
Don't look down: glass bottom skywalk thrills in China

NASA Statement on National Space Council

Silicon-on-Seine: world's biggest tech incubator opens in Paris

India, Portugal Shake Hands on Space Cooperation

EARLY EARTH
On the road to creating an electrodeless spacecraft propulsion engine

Dragon Splashes Down to Complete Resupply Mission

Ariane 5 launch proves reliability and flies new fairing

80th consecutive success for Ariane 5 with launch of Hellas Sat, Inmarsat and ISRO

EARLY EARTH
Mars surface 'more uninhabitable' than thought: study

Mars Rover Opportunity continuing science campaign at Perseverance Valley

The Niagara Falls of Mars once flowed with lava

Russian Devices for ExoMars Mission to Be Ready in Fall 2017

EARLY EARTH
China prepares to launch second heavy-lift carrier rocket

China heavy-lift carrier rocket launch fails: state media

Yuanwang-3 completes ship check mission, ready for Chang'e-5 lunar probe launch

China to launch Long March-5 Y2 in early July

EARLY EARTH
HTS Capacity Lease Revenues to Reach More Than $6 Billion by 2025

SES Transfers Capacity from AMC-9 Satellite Following Significant Anomaly

Second launch doubles number of Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit to 20

OneWeb inaugurates production line Assembly, Integration, and Test of OneWeb satellites

EARLY EARTH
SES and MDA Announce First Satellite Life Extension Agreement

Space Debris Mitigation Mission Successfully Launched on June 23rd, 2017

Seawater makes ancient Roman concrete stronger

Scanning the surface of lithium titanate

EARLY EARTH
Why Does Microorganism Prefer Meager Rations Over Rich Ones

NASA diligently tracks microbes inside the International Space Station

Complex Organic Molecules Found On "Space Hamburger"

Extreme Atmosphere Stripping May Limit Exoplanets' Habitability

EARLY EARTH
New Mysteries Surround New Horizons' Next Flyby Target

Mid-infrared images from the Subaru telescope extend Juno spacecraft discoveries

Earth-based Views of Jupiter to Enhance Juno Flyby

NASA's Juno Spacecraft to Fly Over Jupiter's Great Red Spot July 10




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement