Tag Archives: geologic time

Soil production breaks geologic speed record

Geologic time is shorthand for slow-paced. But new measurements from steep mountaintops in New Zealand shows that rock can transform into soil more than twice as fast as previously believed possible.

The findings were published Jan. 16 in the early online edition of Science. (more…)

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Before Dinosaurs’ Era, Volcanic Eruptions Triggered Mass Extinction

Increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, ocean acidification killed 76 percent of species on Earth

More than 200 million years ago, a massive extinction decimated 76 percent of marine and terrestrial species, marking the end of the Triassic period and the onset of the Jurassic.

The event cleared the way for dinosaurs to dominate Earth for the next 135 million years, taking over ecological niches formerly occupied by other marine and terrestrial species.

It’s not clear what caused the end-Triassic extinction, although most scientists agree on a likely scenario. (more…)

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Ancient Fossilized Sea Creatures Yield Oldest Biomolecules Isolated Directly from a Fossil

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Though scientists have long believed that complex organic molecules couldn’t survive fossilization, some 350-million-year-old remains of aquatic sea creatures uncovered in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa have challenged that assumption.

The spindly animals with feathery arms—called crinoids, but better known today by the plant-like name “sea lily”—appear to have been buried alive in storms during the Carboniferous Period, when North America was covered with vast inland seas. Buried quickly and isolated from the water above by layers of fine-grained sediment, their porous skeletons gradually filled with minerals, but some of the pores containing organic molecules were sealed intact. (more…)

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Gardener’s Delight Offers Glimpse into the Evolution of Flowering Plants

The Pink Double Dandy peony, the Double Peppermint petunia, the Doubled Strawberry Vanilla lily and nearly all roses are varieties cultivated for their double flowers.

The blossoms of these and other such plants are lush with extra petals in place of the parts of the flower needed for sexual reproduction and seed production, meaning double flowers – though beautiful – are mutants and usually sterile.

The genetic interruption that causes that mutation helped scientists in the 1990s pinpoint the genes responsible for normal development of sexual organs stamens and carpels in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, long used as a plant model by biologists. (more…)

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Burtele Foot Indicates Lucy Not Alone

*Discovery of partial foot skeleton could mean hominin species lived side by side*

A new fossil discovery from Eastern Africa called the Burtele foot indicates Australopithecus afarensis, an early relative of modern humans, may not have been the only hominin to walk the plains and woodlands of what is now the Afar region of Ethiopia some 3.4 million years ago.

Researchers openly have questioned whether Au. afarensis, the species to which the famous fossil “Lucy” belongs, was the only living hominin during the late Pliocene of Africa. Lucy’s bones provided evidence that she and perhaps other early hominins may have walked upright, but whether or not she was the sole hominin species in her particular geologic time scale has been the subject of much debate. (more…)

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