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Per Sjögren, Mary E Edwards, Ludovic Gielly, Catherine T Langdon, Ian W Croudace, Marie Kristine Føreid Merkel, Thierry Fonville, Inger Greve Alsos
Sedimentary DNA (sedDNA) has recently emerged as a new proxy for reconstructing past vegetation, but its taphonomy, source area and representation biases need better assessment. We investigated how sedDNA in recent sediments of two small Scottish lakes reflects a major vegetation change, using well-documented 20(th) Century plantations of exotic conifers as an experimental system. We used next-generation sequencing to barcode sedDNA retrieved from subrecent lake sediments. For comparison, pollen was analysed from the same samples...
September 28, 2016: New Phytologist
Neil F Adams, Margaret E Collinson, Selena Y Smith, Marion K Bamford, Félix Forest, Panagiota Malakasi, Federica Marone, Dan Sykes
PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Fossilized seeds similar to Cissus (Vitaceae) have been recognized from the Miocene of Kenya, though some were previously assigned to the Menispermaceae. We undertook a comparative survey of extant African Cissus seeds to identify the fossils and consider their implications for the evolution and biogeography of Cissus and for African early Miocene paleoenvironments. METHODS: Micro-computed tomography (µCT) and synchrotron-based X-ray tomographic microscopy (SRXTM) were used to study seed morphology and anatomy...
September 2016: American Journal of Botany
Joseph T Hefner, Brian F Spatola, Nicholas V Passalacqua, Timothy P Gocha
Anatomical crania are occasionally encountered in forensic anthropology laboratories when that material is mistaken for forensically significant human remains. Using craniometric analyses and statistical measures of sample homogeneity, we determine whether anatomical material can be described as a single, homogenous group or as a diverse mix of populations. Twenty-one interlandmark distances were collected from 85 anatomical preparations. Distance measures were calculated between all pairs using a pooled within-sample variance/covariance matrix and then subjected to a Defrise-Gussenhoven test between each paired distance to test whether each pair was drawn randomly from the same population...
August 8, 2016: Journal of Forensic Sciences
Matúš Hyžný, Adiël A Klompmaker
Ghost shrimps of Callianassidae and Ctenochelidae are soft-bodied, usually heterochelous decapods representing major bioturbators of muddy and sandy (sub)marine substrates. Ghost shrimps have a robust fossil record spanning from the Early Cretaceous (~ 133 Ma) to the Holocene and their remains are present in most assemblages of Cenozoic decapod crustaceans. Their taxonomic interpretation is in flux, mainly because the generic assignment is hindered by their insufficient preservation and disagreement in the biological classification...
December 2015: Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny
Maria E McNamara, Bart E van Dongen, Nick P Lockyer, Ian D Bull, Patrick J Orr
Fossil melanin granules (melanosomes) are an important resource for inferring the evolutionary history of colour and its functions in animals. The taphonomy of melanin and melanosomes, however, is incompletely understood. In particular, the chemical processes responsible for melanosome preservation have not been investigated. As a result, the origins of sulfur-bearing compounds in fossil melanosomes are difficult to resolve. This has implications for interpretations of original colour in fossils based on potential sulfur-rich phaeomelanosomes...
May 2016: Palaeontology
Gustavo M E M Prado, Luiz Eduardo Anelli, Setembrino Petri, Guilherme Raffaeli Romero
Here we describe three fossil feathers from the Early Cretaceous Santana Formation of the Araripe Basin, Brazil. Feathers are the most complex multiform vertebrate integuments; they perform different functions, occurring in both avian and non-avian dinosaurs. Despite their rarity, fossil feathers have been found across the world. Most of the Brazilian feather fossil record comes from the Santana Formation. This formation is composed of two members: Crato (lake) and Romualdo (lagoon); both of which are predominantly reduced deposits, precluding bottom dwelling organisms, resulting in exceptional preservation of the fossils...
2016: PeerJ
Hélène Rougier, Isabelle Crevecoeur, Cédric Beauval, Cosimo Posth, Damien Flas, Christoph Wißing, Anja Furtwängler, Mietje Germonpré, Asier Gómez-Olivencia, Patrick Semal, Johannes van der Plicht, Hervé Bocherens, Johannes Krause
Almost 150 years after the first identification of Neandertal skeletal material, the cognitive and symbolic abilities of these populations remain a subject of intense debate. We present 99 new Neandertal remains from the Troisième caverne of Goyet (Belgium) dated to 40,500-45,500 calBP. The remains were identified through a multidisciplinary study that combines morphometrics, taphonomy, stable isotopes, radiocarbon dating and genetic analyses. The Goyet Neandertal bones show distinctive anthropogenic modifications, which provides clear evidence for butchery activities as well as four bones having been used for retouching stone tools...
2016: Scientific Reports
H W Brooks Brownlie, R Munro
Investigation of animal-related crime, and therefore submission of forensic cases to veterinary pathology facilities, is increasing, yet many veterinary pathologists are unfamiliar and often uncomfortable with involvement in the forensic necropsy. This article discusses various aspects of the forensic necropsy without specific attention to any particular species group or crime. General advice is given on procedures, documentation, and recording of the examination, and the article indicates how these features may differ from those used in investigation of natural disease...
September 2016: Veterinary Pathology
Ioannis Kontopoulos, Pia Nystrom, Lorraine White
Bone is a highly specialised form of hard and rigid connective tissue whose histological structure undergoes post-mortem modifications. In taphonomic research, histological examination of bone thin sections is used to investigate these post-mortem microstructural changes in skeletal tissues. In this study, diagenetic modifications in pig skeletal remains (Sus scrofa domesticus) which were exposed to different taphonomic conditions as part of a long-term, real-time experiment were examined under light microscope (i...
September 2016: Forensic Science International
Sebastián Block, Frédérik Saltré, Marta Rodríguez-Rey, Damien A Fordham, Ingmar Unkel, Corey J A Bradshaw
Fossils represent invaluable data to reconstruct the past history of life, yet fossil-rich sites are often rare and difficult to find. The traditional fossil-hunting approach focuses on small areas and has not yet taken advantage of modelling techniques commonly used in ecology to account for an organism's past distributions. We propose a new method to assist finding fossils at continental scales based on modelling the past distribution of species, the geological suitability of fossil preservation and the likelihood of fossil discovery in the field, and apply it to several genera of Australian megafauna that went extinct in the Late Quaternary...
2016: PloS One
Richard M Bateman, Liadan G Stevens, Jason Hilton
Background and Aims. The largely Mississippian strata of the Kilpatrick Hills, located at the western end of the Scottish Midland Valley, enclose several macrofossil floras that together contain ca 21 organ-species of permineralised plants and ca 44 organ-species of compressed plants, here estimated to represent 25 whole-plant species (Glenarbuck = nine, Loch Humphrey Burn Lower = 11, Upper = seven). The most significant locality is the internationally important volcanigenic sequence that is reputedly intercalated within the Clyde Plateau Lava Formation at Loch Humphrey Burn, where ca 30 m of reworked tuffs and other clastic sediments enclose one of the world's most important terrestrial lagerstätten of this period...
2016: PeerJ
Marin A Pilloud, Mary S Megyesi, Martin Truffer, Derek Congram
A glacial environment is a unique setting that can alter human remains in characteristic ways. This study describes glacial dynamics and how glaciers can be understood as taphonomic agents. Using a case study of human remains recovered from Colony Glacier, Alaska, a glacial taphonomic signature is outlined that includes: (1) movement of remains, (2) dispersal of remains, (3) altered bone margins, (4) splitting of skeletal elements, and (5) extensive soft tissue preservation and adipocere formation. As global glacier area is declining in the current climate, there is the potential for more materials of archaeological and medicolegal significance to be exposed...
April 2016: Forensic Science International
Adiël A Klompmaker, Matúš Hyžný, Roger W Portell, Michał Kowalewski
Studies in systematic palaeontology are greatly aided when numerous, well-preserved specimens are available so that quantitative methods can be used to substantiate qualitative observations. This is often not the case for fossil decapod crustaceans due to their relatively low preservation potential. Here, we examined primarily two large collections of the well-preserved ghost shrimp Glypturus from the Holo-Pleistocene of Panama and the late Miocene of Florida. Using descriptive, bivariate, multivariate and geometric morphometric methods, two new species are described based on appendage material: Glypturus panamacanalensis sp...
March 16, 2015: Journal of Systematic Palaeontology
Andrey N Tsyganov, Olga A Mityaeva, Yuri A Mazei, Richard J Payne
Testate amoeba transfer functions are widely used for reconstruction of palaeo-hydrological regime in peatlands. However, the limitations of this approach have become apparent with increasing attention to validation and assessing sources of uncertainty. This paper investigates effects of peatland type and sampling depth on the performance of a transfer function using an independent test-set from four Sphagnum-dominated sites in European Russia (Penza Region). We focus on transfer function performance along localised hydrological gradients, which is a useful analogue for predictive ability through time...
December 12, 2015: European Journal of Protistology
James A Campbell, Michael J Ryan, Robert B Holmes, Claudia J Schröder-Adams
BACKGROUND: The chasmosaurine ceratopsid Chasmosaurus is known from the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian) Dinosaur Park Formation of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Two valid species, Chasmosaurus belli and C. russelli, have been diagnosed by differences in cranial ornamentation. Their validity has been supported, in part, by the reported stratigraphic segregation of chasmosaurines in the Dinosaur Park Formation, with C. belli and C. russelli occurring in discrete, successive zones within the formation...
2016: PloS One
Marie-Anne Julien, Bruce Hardy, Mareike C Stahlschmidt, Brigitte Urban, Jordi Serangeli, Nicholas J Conard
Although preservation of Paleolithic faunal assemblages from open-air settings is often poor, the Lower Paleolithic sites of Schöningen provide exceptionally well-preserved mammalian faunal material for investigating hominin/animal relationships. Pleistocene fossil assemblages, however, usually reflect a complex taphonomic history in which natural and anthropogenic processes are often superimposed. A number of examples of osseous finds that resemble tools were recently discovered in the MIS 9 deposits of Schöningen 12 II...
December 2015: Journal of Human Evolution
Britt M Starkovich, Nicholas J Conard
This paper presents the faunal remains from the new excavation area at the Lower Paleolithic site of Schöningen. The focus of the study is on the southern extension of the main find horizon (Spear Horizon South), which includes the layer that yielded the famous Schöningen spears (13 II-4). Taxonomic data corroborate previous studies, that hominins primarily hunted Equus mosbachensis, a large Pleistocene horse. Equid body part representation at the site suggests that the animals were hunted and butchered locally...
December 2015: Journal of Human Evolution
Paul H G M Dirks, Lee R Berger, Eric M Roberts, Jan D Kramers, John Hawks, Patrick S Randolph-Quinney, Marina Elliott, Charles M Musiba, Steven E Churchill, Darryl J de Ruiter, Peter Schmid, Lucinda R Backwell, Georgy A Belyanin, Pedro Boshoff, K Lindsay Hunter, Elen M Feuerriegel, Alia Gurtov, James du G Harrison, Rick Hunter, Ashley Kruger, Hannah Morris, Tebogo V Makhubela, Becca Peixotto, Steven Tucker
We describe the physical context of the Dinaledi Chamber within the Rising Star cave, South Africa, which contains the fossils of Homo naledi. Approximately 1550 specimens of hominin remains have been recovered from at least 15 individuals, representing a small portion of the total fossil content. Macro-vertebrate fossils are exclusively H. naledi, and occur within clay-rich sediments derived from in situ weathering, and exogenous clay and silt, which entered the chamber through fractures that prevented passage of coarser-grained material...
2015: ELife
Aude Cincotta, Johan Yans, Pascal Godefroit, Géraldine Garcia, Jean Dejax, Mouloud Benammi, Sauveur Amico, Xavier Valentin
The Velaux-La Bastide Neuve fossil-bearing site (Bouches-du-Rhône, France) has yielded a diverse vertebrate assemblage dominated by dinosaurs, including the titanosaur Atsinganosaurus velauciensis. We here provide a complete inventory of vertebrate fossils collected during two large-scale field campaigns. Numerous crocodilian teeth occur together with complete skulls. Pterosaur, hybodont shark and fish elements are also represented but uncommon. Magnetostratigraphic analyses associated with biostratigraphic data from dinosaur eggshell and charophytes suggest a Late Campanian age for the locality...
2015: PloS One
Jessica C Thompson, Shannon P McPherron, René Bobe, Denné Reed, W Andrew Barr, Jonathan G Wynn, Curtis W Marean, Denis Geraads, Zeresenay Alemseged
Two fossil specimens from the DIK-55 locality in the Hadar Formation at Dikika, Ethiopia, are contemporaneous with the earliest documented stone tools, and they collectively bear twelve marks interpreted to be characteristic of stone tool butchery damage. An alternative interpretation of the marks has been that they were caused by trampling animals and do not provide evidence of stone tool use or large ungulate exploitation by Australopithecus-grade hominins. Thus, resolving which agents created marks on fossils in deposits from Dikika is an essential step in understanding the ecological and taphonomic contexts of the hominin-bearing deposits in this region and establishing their relevance for investigations of the earliest stone tool use...
September 2015: Journal of Human Evolution
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