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Understanding the processes leading to fossilization

Modern death assemblages provide insights about the early stages of fossilization and useful ecological information about the species inhabiting the ecosystem. The results of taphonomic monitoring of modern vertebrate carcasses and bones from Doñana National Park, a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem in Andalusia, Spain, are presented. Ten different habitats were surveyed. Half of them occur in active depositional environments (marshland, lake margin, river margin, beach and dunes). Most of the skeletal remains belong to land mammals larger than 5 kg in body weight (mainly wild and feral ungulates). Overall, the Doñana bone assemblage shows good preservation with little damage to the bones, partly as a consequence of the low predator pressure on large vertebrates. Assemblages from active depositional habitats differ significantly from other habitats in terms of the higher incidence of breakage and chewing marks on bones in the latter, which result from scavenging, mainly by wild boar and red fox. The lake-margin and river-margin death assemblages have high concentrations of well preserved bones that are undergoing burial and offer the greatest potential to produce fossil assemblages. The spatial distribution of species in the Doñana death assemblage generally reflects the preferred habitats of the species in life. Meadows seem to be a preferred winter habitat for male deer, given the high number of shed antlers recorded there. This study is further proof that taphonomy can provide powerful insights to better understand the ecology of modern species and to infer past and future scenarios for the fossil record. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Domingo et al (2020) Taphonomic information from the modern vertebrate death assemblage of Doñana National Park, Spain. PLOS ONE 15(11): e0242082. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0242082


https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0242082
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The 5,000-year history of the horse

The 5,000-year history of the horse

Horse domestication revolutionized warfare and accelerated travel, trade and the geographic expansion of languages. This study presents the largest genome-scale time-series for a non-human organism to access the legacy of past equestrian civilizations in the genetic makeup of modern horses. It includes 87 new ancient genomes and genome-scale data of 132 animals. Two extinct horse lineages existed during early domestication at the far western (Iberia) and eastern range (Siberia) of Eurasia but contributed only marginally to modern diversity. Mule breeding started at least 2,200 years ago. Persian related horse lineages increasingly influence European and Asian populations in the centuries following the Islamic conquests until modern times. Multiple alleles associated with elite-racing, including at the MSTN "speed gene", only rose in popularity within the last few centuries. Finally, the development of modern breeding impacted genetic diversity more dramatically than all previous millennia of human management. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Fages et al (2019) Tracking five millennia of horse management with extensive ancient genome time series. Cell. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.03.049


https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(19)30384-8