Now showing items 21-40 of 609

    • Cranial osteology and molecular phylogeny of Argyrogena fasciolata (Shaw, 1802) (Colubridae: Serpentes)

      Das, S; Campbell, P; Roy, S; Mukherjee, S; Pramanick, K; Biswas, A; Raha, S; Fritz, U (Museum of Zoology, Dresden (Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung), 2019-08-15)
      Descriptive accounts of the cranial osteology of snakes is important for systematics, functional morphology and also, to some extent, palaeontology. In the present study, we describe the skull of Argyrogena fasciolata, a south Asian colubrid snake, in detail. Bones of the snout unit of this snake are adapted for a fossorial mode of life whereas the braincase lacks any adaptations related to such an existence. We also compared its skull with other snakes belonging to sixteen other genera which together form the large clade containing Afrotropical, Palaearctic and Saharo-Arabian racers/whip snakes. The comparison shows that the cranium of A. fasciolata bears more similarity with that of Platyceps spp, differing mostly in three characteristics pertaining to premaxilla, nasal and pterygoid bones, than it does with crania of other genera. This suggests a closer relationship between those two genera. We also performed molecular phylogenetic analyses on three mitochondrial loci using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian Inference optimality criteria. The resultant phylogenies indeed recover A. fasciolata as sister to Platyceps spp.
    • Clinical Pathology of Plastic Ingestion in Marine Birds and Relationships with Blood Chemistry.

      Lavers, JL; Hutton, I; Bond, AL (American Chemical Society, 2019-07-15)
      Pollution of the environment with plastic debris is a significant and rapidly expanding threat to biodiversity due to its abundance, durability, and persistence. Current knowledge of the negative effects of debris on wildlife is largely based on consequences that are readily observed, such as entanglement or starvation. Many interactions with debris, however, result in less visible and poorly documented sublethal effects, and as a consequence, the true impact of plastic is underestimated. We investigated the sublethal effects of ingested plastic in Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) using blood chemistry parameters as a measure of bird health. The presence of plastic had a significant negative effect on bird morphometrics and blood calcium levels and a positive relationship with the concentration of uric acid, cholesterol, and amylase. That we found blood chemistry parameters being related to plastic pollution is one of the few examples to date of the sublethal effects of marine debris and highlights that superficially healthy individuals may still experience the negative consequences of ingesting plastic debris. Moving beyond crude measures, such as reduced body mass, to physiological parameters will provide much needed insight into the nuanced and less visible effects of plastic.
    • Preliminary survival and movement data for a declining population of Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carneipes in Western Australia provides insights into marine threats

      Lavers, J; Lisovski, S; Bond, A (Cambridge University Press, 2018-08-31)
      Seabirds face diverse threats on their breeding islands and while at sea. Human activities have been linked to the decline of seabird populations, yet over-wintering areas typically receive little or no protection. Adult survival rates, a crucial parameter for population persistence in long-lived species, tend to be spatially or temporally restricted for many seabird species, limiting our understanding of factors driving population trends at some sites. We used bio-loggers to study the migration of Western Australian Flesh-footed Shearwaters Ardenna carneipes carneipes and estimated adult survival over five years. Western Australia is home to around 35% of the world’s breeding Flesh-footed Shearwaters, a population which was up-listed to Vulnerable in 2015. During the austral winter, shearwaters migrated across the central Indian Ocean to their non-breeding grounds off western Sri Lanka. Low site fidelity on breeding islands, mortality of adult birds at sea (e.g. fisheries bycatch), and low annual breeding frequency likely contributed to the low estimated annual adult survival (2011–2015: ϕ = 0.634-0.835).
    • Conserved gene signalling and a derived patterning mechanism underlie the development of avian footpad scales

      Cooper, RL; Lloyd, VJ; Di-Pöi, N; Fletcher, AG; Barrett, PM; Fraser, GJ (BioMed Central, 2019-08-13)
      Background: Vertebrates possess a diverse range of integumentary epithelial appendages, including scales, feathers and hair. These structures share extensive early developmental homology, as they mostly originate from a conserved anatomical placode. In the context of avian epithelial appendages, feathers and scutate scales are known to develop from an anatomical placode. However, our understanding of avian reticulate (footpad) scale development remains unclear. Results: Here, we demonstrate that reticulate scales develop from restricted circular domains of thickened epithelium, with localised conserved gene expression in both the epithelium and underlying mesenchyme. These domains constitute either anatomical placodes, or circular initiatory fields (comparable to the avian feather tract). Subsequent patterning of reticulate scales is consistent with reaction–diffusion (RD) simulation, whereby this primary domain subdivides into smaller secondary units, which produce individual scales. In contrast, the footpad scales of a squamate model (the bearded dragon, Pogona vitticeps) develop synchronously across the ventral footpad surface. Conclusions: Widely conserved gene signalling underlies the initial development of avian reticulate scales. However, their subsequent patterning is distinct from the footpad scale patterning of a squamate model, and the feather and scutate scale patterning of birds. Therefore, we suggest reticulate scales are a comparatively derived epithelial appendage, patterned through a modified RD system.
    • Genome-wide SNP data reveal an overestimation of species diversity in a group of hawkmoths.

      Hundsdoerfer, AK; Lee, KM; Kitching, IJ; Mutanen, M (Oxford University Press, 2019-05-29)
      The interface between populations and evolving young species continues to generate much contemporary debate in systematics depending on the species concept(s) applied but which ultimately reduces to the fundamental question of “when do nondiscrete entities become distinct,mutually exclusive evolutionary units”? Species are perceived as critical biological entities, and the discovery and naming of new species is perceived by many authors as a major research aim for assessing current biodiversity before much of it becomes extinct.However, less attention is given to determining whether these names represent valid biological entities because this is perceived as both a laborious chore and an undesirable research outcome. The charismatic spurge hawkmoths (Hyles euphorbiae complex, HEC) offer an opportunity to study this less fashionable aspect of systematics. To elucidate this intriguing systematic challenge, we analyzed over 10,000 ddRAD single nucleotide polymorphisms from 62 individuals using coalescent-based and population genomic methodology. These genome-wide data reveal a clear overestimation of (sub)species-level diversity and demonstrate that the HEC taxonomy has been seriously oversplit. We conclude that only one valid species name should be retained for the entire HEC, namely Hyles euphorbiae, and we do not recognize any formal subspecies or other taxonomic subdivisions within it. Although the adoption of genetic tools has frequently revealed morphologically cryptic diversity, the converse, taxonomic oversplitting of species, is generally (and wrongly in our opinion) accepted as rare. Furthermore, taxonomic oversplitting is most likely to have taken place in intensively studied popular and charismatic organisms such as the HEC.
    • Ngwevu intloko: a new early sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic Elliot Formation of South Africa and comments on cranial ontogeny in Massospondylus carinatus

      Chapelle, KEJ; Barrett, PM; Botha, J; Choiniere, JN (PeerJ Inc., 2019-08-05)
      Our knowledge of Early Jurassic palaeobiodiversity in the upper Elliot Formation of South Africa has increased markedly in recent years with the discovery of new fossils, re-assessments of previously collected material and a better understanding of Stormberg Group stratigraphy. Here, Ngwevu intloko, a new genus of upper Elliot basal sauropodomorph is named on the basis of a complete skull and partial skeleton (BP/1/4779) previously assigned to Massospondylus carinatus. It can be distinguished from all other basal sauropodomorphs by a combination of 16 cranial and six postcranial characters. The new species is compared to a small ontogenetic series of M. carinatus as well as to a range of closely related taxa. Taphonomic deformation, sexual dimorphism and ontogeny are rejected as possible explanations for the morphological differences present between BP/1/4779 and other taxa. Osteohistological examination reveals that BP/1/4779 had nearly reached adult size at the time of its death at a minimum age of 10 years.
    • Warm Temperatures, Cool Sponges: The Effect of Increased Temperatures on the Antarctic Sponge Isodictya sp

      González-Aravena, M.; Kenny, N.J.; Osorio, M.; Font, A.; Riesgo, A.; Cárdenas, C.A. (bioRxiv, 2019-08-06)
      Although the cellular and molecular responses to exposure to relatively high temperatures (acute thermal stress or heat shock) have been studied previously, only sparse empirical evidence of how it affects cold-water species is available. As climate change becomes more pronounced in areas such as the Western Antarctic Peninsula, it has become crucial to understand the capacity of these species to respond to thermal stress. Here we use the Antarctic sponge Isodictya sp. to investigate how sessile organisms (particularly Porifera) can adjust to acute short-term heat stress, by exposing this species to 3 and 5 °C for 4 hours, corresponding to predicted temperatures under high-end 2080 IPCC-SRES scenarios. Assembling a de novo reference transcriptome (90,188 contigs, >93.7% metazoan BUSCO genes) we have begun to discern the molecular response employed by Isodictya to adjust to environmental insult. Our initial analyses suggest that TGF-β, ubiquitin and hedgehog cascades are involved, alongside other genes. However, the degree and type of response changed little from 3 to 5 °C, suggesting that even moderate rises in temperature could cause stress at the limits of this organism’s capacity. Given the importance of sponges to Antarctic ecosystems, our findings are vital for discerning the consequences of increases in Antarctic ocean temperature on these and other species.
    • Trimitomics: An efficient pipeline for mitochondrial assembly from transcriptomic reads in nonmodel species

      Plese, Bruna; Rossi, Maria Eleonora; Kenny, Nathan James; Taboada, Sergi; Koutsouveli, Vasiliki; Riesgo, Ana (Wiley, 2019-05-09)
      Mitochondrial resources are of known utility to many fields of phylogenetic, population and molecular biology. Their combination of faster and slower‐evolving regions and high copy number enables them to be used in many situations where other loci are unsuitable, with degraded samples and after recent speciation events.The advent of next‐generation sequencing technologies (and notably the Illumina platform) has led to an explosion in the number of samples that can be studied at transcriptomic level, at relatively low cost. Here we describe a robust pipeline for the recovery of mitochondrial genomes from these RNA‐sequencing resources. This pipeline can be used on sequencing of a variety of depths, and reliably recovers the protein coding and ribosomal gene complements of mitochondria from almost any transcriptomic sequencing experiment. The complete sequence of the mitochondrial genome can also be recovered when sequencing is performed in sufficient depth. We show the efficacy of our pipeline using data from eight nonmodel invertebrates of six disparate phyla. Interestingly, among our poriferan data, where microbiological symbionts are known empirically to make mitochondrial assembly difficult, this pipeline proved especially useful. Our pipeline will allow the recovery of mitochondrial data from a variety of previously sequenced samples, and add an additional angle of enquiry to future RNA‐sequencing efforts, simplifying the process of mitochondrial genome assembly for even the most recalcitrant clades and adding these data to the scientific record for a range of future uses.
    • Population substructure and signals of divergent adaptive selection despite admixture in the sponge Dendrilla antarctica from shallow waters surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula

      Leiva, Carlos; Taboada, Sergi; Kenny, Nathan J.; Combosch, David; Giribet, Gonzalo; Jombart, Thibaut; Riesgo, Ana (Wiley, 2019-05-24)
      Antarctic shallow‐water invertebrates are exceptional candidates to study population genetics and evolution, because of their peculiar evolutionary history and adaptation to extreme habitats that expand and retreat with the ice sheets. Among them, sponges are one of the major components, yet population connectivity of none of their many Antarctic species has been studied. To investigate gene flow, local adaptation and resilience to near‐future changes caused by global warming, we sequenced 62 individuals of the sponge Dendrilla antarctica along the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and the South Shetlands (spanning ~900 km). We obtained information from 577 double digest restriction site‐associated DNA sequencing (ddRADseq)‐derived single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), using RADseq techniques for the first time with shallow‐water sponges. In contrast to other studies in sponges, our 389 neutral SNPs data set showed high levels of gene flow, with a subtle substructure driven by the circulation system of the studied area. However, the 140 outlier SNPs under positive selection showed signals of population differentiation, separating the central–southern WAP from the Bransfield Strait area, indicating a divergent selection process in the study area despite panmixia. Fourteen of these outliers were annotated, being mostly involved in immune and stress responses. We suggest that the main selective pressure on D. antarctica might be the difference in the planktonic communities present in the central–southern WAP compared to the Bransfield Strait area, ultimately depending on sea‐ice control of phytoplankton blooms. Our study unveils an unexpectedly long‐distance larval dispersal exceptional in Porifera, broadening the use of genome‐wide markers within nonmodel Antarctic organisms.
    • Symbiosis, Selection, and Novelty: Freshwater Adaptation in the Unique Sponges of Lake Baikal

      Kenny, Nathan J.; Plese, Bruna; Riesgo, Ana; Itskovich, Valeria B. (Oxford Academic, 2019-06-27)
      Freshwater sponges (Spongillida) are a unique lineage of demosponges that secondarily colonized lakes and rivers and are now found ubiquitously in these ecosystems. They developed specific adaptations to freshwater systems, including the ability to survive extreme thermal ranges, long-lasting dessication, anoxia, and resistance to a variety of pollutants. Although spongillids have colonized all freshwater systems, the family Lubomirskiidae is endemic to Lake Baikal and plays a range of key roles in this ecosystem. Our work compares the genomic content and microbiome of individuals of three species of the Lubomirskiidae, providing hypotheses for how molecular evolution has allowed them to adapt to their unique environments. We have sequenced deep (>92% of the metazoan “Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs” [BUSCO] set) transcriptomes from three species of Lubomirskiidae and a draft genome resource for Lubomirskia baikalensis. We note Baikal sponges contain unicellular algal and bacterial symbionts, as well as the dinoflagellate Gyrodinium. We investigated molecular evolution, gene duplication, and novelty in freshwater sponges compared with marine lineages. Sixty one orthogroups have consilient evidence of positive selection. Transporters (e.g., zinc transporter-2), transcription factors (aristaless-related homeobox), and structural proteins (e.g. actin-3), alongside other genes, are under strong evolutionary pressure in freshwater, with duplication driving novelty across the Spongillida, but especially in the Lubomirskiidae. This addition to knowledge of freshwater sponge genetics provides a range of tools for understanding the molecular biology and, in the future, the ecology (e.g., colonization and migration patterns) of these key species.
    • Telenomus remus, a Candidate Parasitoid for the Biological Control of Spodoptera frugiperda in Africa, is already Present on the Continent

      Kenis, M; du Plessis, H; Van den Berg, J; Ba, MN; Goergen, G; Kwadjo, KE; Baoua, I; Tefera, T; Buddie, A; Cafa, G; et al. (MDPI, 2019-03-29)
      The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, a moth originating from tropical and subtropical America, has recently become a serious pest of cereals in sub-Saharan Africa. Biological control offers an economically and environmentally safer alternative to synthetic insecticides that are being used for the management of this pest. Consequently, various biological control options are being considered, including the introduction of Telenomus remus, the main egg parasitoid of S. frugiperda in the Americas, where it is already used in augmentative biological control programmes. During surveys in South, West, and East Africa, parasitized egg masses of S. frugiperda were collected, and the emerged parasitoids were identified through morphological observations and molecular analyses as T. remus. The presence of T. remus in Africa in at least five countries provides a great opportunity to develop augmentative biological control methods and register the parasitoid against S. frugiperda. Surveys should be carried out throughout Africa to assess the present distribution of T. remus on the continent, and the parasitoid could be re-distributed in the regions where it is absent, following national and international regulations. Classical biological control should focus on the importation of larval parasitoids from the Americas.
    • How has the environment shaped geographical patterns of insect body sizes? A test of hypotheses using sphingid moths.

      Beerli, N; Bärtschi, F; Kitching, IJ; Ballesteros-Mejia, L; Beck, J (Wiley, 2019-05-14)
      Aim: We mapped the geographical pattern of body sizes in sphingid moths and investigated latitudinal clines. We tested hypotheses concerning their possible environmental control, that is, effects of temperature (negative: temperature size rule or Bergmann's rule; positive: converse Bergmann rule), food availability, robustness to starvation during extreme weather and seasonality. Location: Old World and Australia/Pacific region. Methods: Body size data of 950 sphingid species were compiled and related to their distribution maps. Focusing on body length, we mapped the median and maximum size of all species occurring in 100 km grid cells. In a comparative approach, we tested the predictions from explanatory hypotheses by correlating species' size to the average environmental conditions encountered throughout their range, under univariate and multivariate models. We accounted for phylogeny by stepwise inclusion of phylogenetically informed taxonomic classifications into hierarchical random‐intercept mixed models. Results: Median body sizes showed a distinctive geographical pattern, with large species in the Middle East and the Asian tropics, and smaller species in temperate regions and the Afrotropics. Absolute latitude explained very little body size variation, but there was a latitudinal cline of maximum size. Species' median size was correlated with net primary productivity, supporting the food availability hypothesis, whereas support for other hypotheses was weak. Environmental correlations contributed much less (i.e. <10%) to explaining overall size variation than phylogeny (inclusion of which led to models explaining >70% of variability). Main conclusion: The intuitive impression of larger species in the tropics is shaped by larger size maxima. Median body sizes are only very weakly related to latitude. Most of the geographical variation in body size in sphingid moths is explained by their phylogenetic past. NPP and forest cover correlate positively with the body size, which supports the idea that food availability allowed the evolution of larger sizes.
    • Progress on bringing together raptor collections in Europe for contaminant research and monitoring in relation to chemicals regulation.

      Movalli, P; Duke, G; Ramello, G; Dekker, R; Vrezec, A; Shore, RF; García-Fernández, A; Wernham, C; Krone, O; Alygizakis, N; et al. (Springer-Verlag, 2019-05-27)
    • The crystal structure of cesbronite, Cu 3 TeO 4 (OH) 4 : a novel sheet tellurate topology

      Missen, OP; Mills, SJ; Welch, MD; Spratt, J; Rumsey, MS; Birch, WD; Brugger, J (International Union of Crystallography, 2018-01-09)
      The crystal structure of cesbronite has been determined using single-crystal X-ray diffraction and supported by electron-microprobe analysis, powder diffraction and Raman spectroscopy. Cesbronite is orthorhombic, space group Cmcm, with a = 2.93172 (16), b = 11.8414 (6), c = 8.6047 (4) Å and V = 298.72 (3) Å3. The chemical formula of cesbronite has been revised to CuII3TeVIO4(OH)4 from CuII5(TeIVO3)2(OH)6·2H2O. This change has been accepted by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, Proposal 17-C. The previously reported oxidation state of tellurium has been shown to be incorrect; the crystal structure, bond valence studies and charge balance clearly show tellurium to be hexavalent. The crystal structure of cesbronite is formed from corrugated sheets of edge-sharing CuO6 and (Cu0.5Te0.5)O6 octahedra. The structure determined here is an average structure that has underlying ordering of Cu and Te at one of the two metal sites, designated as M, which has an occupancy Cu0.5Te0.5. This averaging probably arises from an absence of correlation between adjacent polyhedral sheets, as there are two different hydrogen-bonding configurations linking sheets that are related by a ½a offset. Randomised stacking of these two configurations results in the superposition of Cu and Te and leads to the Cu0.5Te0.5 occupancy of the M site in the average structure. Bond-valence analysis is used to choose the most probable Cu/Te ordering scheme and also to identify protonation sites (OH). The chosen ordering scheme and its associated OH sites are shown to be consistent with the revised chemical formula.
    • Accumulation and Dissolution of Magnetite Crystals in a Magnetically Responsive Ciliate

      Monteil, CL; Menguy, N; Prévéral, S; Warren, A; Pignol, D; Lefèvre, CT; Kelly, RM (American Society of Microbiology, 2018-02-09)
      Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) represent a group of microorganisms that are widespread in aquatic habitats and thrive at the oxic-anoxic interfaces. They are able to scavenge high concentrations of iron thanks to the biomineralization of magnetic crystals in their unique organelle, the so-called magnetosome chain. Although their biodiversity has been intensively studied in recent years, their ecology and impact on iron cycling remain largely unexplored. Predation by protozoa was suggested as one of the ecological processes that could be involved in the release of iron back into the ecosystem. Magnetic protozoa have previously been observed in aquatic environments, but their diversity and the fate of particulate iron during grazing are poorly documented. In this study, we report the morphological and molecular characterization of a magnetically responsive MTB-grazing protozoan able to ingest high quantities of MTB. This protozoan is tentatively identified as Uronema marinum, a ciliate known to be a bacteria predator. Using light and electron microscopy, we investigate in detail the vacuoles in which lysis of phagocytized prokaryotes occurs. We carried out high-resolution observations of aligned magnetosome chains and ongoing dissolution of crystals. Particulate iron in the ciliate represented about 0.01% of its total volume. We show the ubiquity of this interaction in other types of environments and describe different grazing strategies. These data contribute to the mounting evidence that interaction between MTB-protozoan might play a significant role in iron turnover in microaerophilic habitats. IMPORTANCE Identifying participants of each biogeochemical cycle is a prerequisite to our understanding of ecosystems functioning. Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) participate to iron cycling by concentrating large amounts of biomineralized iron minerals into their cells, which impacts their chemical environment at or below the oxic-anoxic transition zone in aquatic habitats. It was shown that some protozoa inhabiting this niche could become magnetic with the ingestion of magnetic crystals biomineralized by grazed MTB. In this study, we show that magnetic MTB-grazers are commonly observed in marine and freshwater sediments and can sometimes accumulate very large amounts of particulate iron. Using magnetic particles from MTB as tracers after their ingestion by the protozoa, different phagocytosis strategies are described. This study paves the way for potential scientific or medical applications using MTB-grazers as magnetosome-hyperaccumulators.
    • Stability in Lepidoptera names is not served by reversal to gender agreement: a response to Wiemers et al. (2018)

      van Nieukerken, EJ; Karsholt, O; Hausmann, A; Holloway, JD; Huemer, P; Kitching, IJ; Nuss, M; Pohl, GR; Rajaei, H; Rennwald, E; et al. (Pensoft Publishers, 2019-06-26)
      In a recent paper in ZooKeys, Wiemers et al. (2018) provided an updated list of European butterfly names. In this list the authors follow gender agreement for species names, when interpreted as adjectival in derivation, in contrast to the common practice among most lepidopterists. Here we comment on this aspect of the paper, and voice our concern that this reversal does not benefit the stability of Lepidoptera names and is, indeed, inimical to their stability. Modern zoological science needs the communities of taxonomists and users to agree on the names that are used to communicate information about the taxa we study and cherish. In this age, such collegiate acceptance is more important than ever, given that the number of users of scientific names has increased enormously. Agreement is particularly important when considering the numerous online databases, observation sites, Wikipedia, etc. Several global and local initiatives over the last several decades have begun to compile authoritative lists of taxonomic names to serve the community and build towards a greater stability, including Species 2000 / Catalogue of Life (Roskov et al. 2018; Roskov et al. 2019), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF Secretariat 2019) and Fauna Europaea (de Jong et al. 2014; Fauna Europaea 2017). Unfortunately, the current (and likely future) funding situation for most of these projects is poor, to say the least, and populating these databases relies heavily on a diminishing number of taxonomists, who rarely receive recognition for their work. The Fauna Europaea database, which is of special importance as Europe’s main zoological taxonomic index, has suffered particularly, being an EU-supported project that was only funded by the European Commission between 2000 and 2004. Subsequently, updating was carried out at the Zoological Museum of Amsterdam (de Jong et al. 2014), first under the umbrella of the PESI project (PESI 2011; de Jong et al. 2015), then later without funding, until the Amsterdam museum was merged with Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden in 2011. Since then, the Fauna Europaea database has been run by the Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz-Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity, Berlin, Germany. Recently, however, updating has come to a stand-still, very much to the frustration both of taxonomists who wish to update their lists and of users who need an up-to-date and authoritative nomenclature. Given these circumstances, we enthusiastically applaud the initiative that several specialists of European butterflies have taken separately to publish an update for butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea) in an open access journal, to produce a new list for the use of the scientific community (Wiemers et al. 2018).
    • Parasites lost: using natural history collections to track disease change across deep time

      Harmon, A; Littlewood, DTJ; Wood, CL (Ecological Society of America, 2019-03-04)
      Recent decades have brought countless outbreaks of infectious disease among wildlife. These events appear to be increasing in frequency and magnitude, but to objectively evaluate whether ecosystems are experiencing rising rates of disease, scientists require historical data on disease abundance. Specimens held in natural history collections represent a chronological archive of life on Earth and may, in many cases, be the only available source of data on historical disease patterns. It is possible to extract information on past disease rates by studying trace fossils (indirect fossilized evidence of an organism's presence or activity, including coprolites or feces), sequencing ancient DNA of parasites, and examining sediment samples, mummified remains, study skins (preserved animal skins prepared by taxidermy for research purposes), liquid‐preserved hosts, and hosts preserved in amber. Such use of natural history collections could expand scientific understanding of parasite responses to environmental change across deep time (that is, over the past several centuries), facilitating the development of baselines for managing contemporary wildlife disease.
    • Catalogue and composition of fossil Anthicidae and Ischaliidae (Insecta: Coleoptera)

      Telnov, Dmitry; Bukejs, A (Paleontological Society., 2019-04)
      Despite the increasing rate of systematic research on extant tenebrionoid Coleoptera of the Anthicidae and Ischaliidae, their fossil records remained largely unrevised. In the current paper we review all hitherto named ant-like flower beetles and false fire-coloured beetles fossils. We suggest 16 fossil species can be reliably assigned to the Anthicidae and three species to the Ischaliidae. We proposed new placements for two fossil Anthicidae taxa: Petratypus nigri Kaddumi, 2005 moved from Anthicidae to Cucujiformia Familia incertae sedis and “Eurygenius” wickhami Cockerell, 1917 is re-described and moved from Eurygeniinae Anthicidae to Tenebrionoidea Familia and Genus incertae sedis. Additionally, three new species are described from Eocene Baltic amber, namely Nitorus succinius sp. nov., Steropes eleticinoides sp. nov. and Tomoderus saecularis sp. nov. An annotated catalogue of fossil Anthicidae and Ischaliidae is provided. We made a qualitative analysis of available data, evaluated the distribution of fossils in the light of current biogeography and geological time. The oldest hitherto known fossil record of the Anthicidae is 130.0-125.5 Ma (same for Macratriinae), of the Anthicinae - 37.2-33.9 Ma, of the Eurygeniinae - 55.8-48.6 Ma, of the Notoxinae, Steropinae and Tomoderinae - 37.2-33.9 Ma. The oldest hitherto know fossil record of the Ischaliidae is 37.2-33.9 Ma.
    • A reassessment of the purported ankylosaurian dinosaur Bienosaurus lufengensis from the Lower Lufeng Formation of Yunnan, China

      Raven, TJ; Barrett, PM; Xu, X; Maidment, S (Polish Academy of Sciences, 2019-03-19)
      The earliest definitive ornithischian dinosaurs are from the Early Jurassic and are rare components of early dinosaur faunas. The Lower Lufeng Formation (Hettangian–Sinemurian) of Yunnan Province, China, has yielded a diverse Early Jurassic terrestrial vertebrate fauna. This includes several incomplete specimens have been referred to Ornithischia, including the type specimen of the thyreophoran “Tatisaurus” and other generically indeterminate material. The highly fragmentary Lufeng ornithischian Bienosaurus lufengensis was described briefly in 2001 and identified as an ankylosaurian dinosaur. Recent studies have cast doubt on this hypothesis, however, and given that the referral of Bienosaurus to Ankylosauria would result in an extensive ghost-lineage extending between it and the first definitive eurypodans (ankylosaurs + stegosaurs) in the Middle Jurassic, the holotype specimen is re-examined and re-described. We identify Bienosaurus as a probable thyreophoran dinosaur, although the fragmentary nature of the material and the absence of autapomorphies means that the specimen should be regarded as a nomen dubium.
    • Postcranial osteology of the neotype specimen of Massospondylus carinatus Owen, 1854 (Dinosauria: Sauropodomorpha) from the upper Elliot formation of South Africa

      Barrett, PM; Chapelle, KJ; Staunton, CK; Botha, J; Choiniere, JN (University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, 2019-04-29)
      Massospondylus carinatus Owen, 1854, from the earliest Jurassic upper Elliot Formation of South Africa, was one of the first dinosaurs to be described from Gondwana. It has been incorporated into numerous phylogenetic, palaeobiological and biostratigraphic analyses, is often viewed as an exemplar for understanding sauropodomorph anatomy and is a key taxon in studies of early dinosaur evolution. Since its initial description, numerous specimens have been referred to this species, ranging from isolated postcranial elements to complete skeletons with three-dimensional skulls. In addition,M. carinatus has been identified in areas outside of the main Karoo Basin. Surprisingly, however, there have been few attempts to define the taxon rigorously, so that the basis for many of these referrals is weak, undermining the utility of this abundant material. Here, we provide the first detailed postcranial description of the neotype specimen of M. carinatus, use it as a basis for diagnosing the species on the basis of cranial, axial and appendicular characters, demonstrate that it represents an adult individual on the basis of osteohistology, and discuss ways in which these data can assist in providing a better understanding of Karoo-aged African dinosaur faunas.