Dutch Winterswijk Triassic fossils, new study


This May 2018 video is called Dutch Minerals and [Triassic] Fossils / Winterswijk.

I myself was at this quarry. Unfortunately, only the path at the top is accessible for the public. So, I saw only a willom warbler, not the nesting eagle owls and Triassic fossils below.

From the University of Bonn in Germany:

Fossil deposit is much richer than expected

Paleontologist analyses finds from the Dutch town of Winterswijk

January 14, 2019

It has long been known that a quarry near the Dutch town of Winterswijk is an Eldorado for fossil lovers. But even connoisseurs will be surprised just how outstanding the site actually is. A student at the University of Bonn, himself a Dutchman and passionate fossil collector, has now analyzed pieces from museums and private collections for his master’s thesis. He found an amazing amount of almost completely preserved skeletons, all between 242 and 247 million years old. The good condition is presumably due to particularly favorable development conditions. These make Winterswijk, which belongs to the so-called Germanic Basin, a cornucopia for paleontology. The study is published in the Paläontologische Zeitschrift.

Jelle Heijne examined exactly 327 remains of marine reptiles for his master’s thesis — collected partly from public museums, but primarily from about 20 private collections. He was particularly impressed by the high quality of the finds: “Among them were more than 20 contiguous skeletons”, he emphasizes. “Only very few complete skeleton finds are known from the other sites of the Germanic Basin, which stretches from England to Poland.”

In his study, the 25-year-old investigated the question of why the bones, which are over 240 million years old, have been preserved so well here. The reason is probably a combination of fortunate circumstances: At that time the Germanic Basin was a sea, which was extremely shallow, in today’s Winterswijk. This is illustrated by the fossil footprints of terrestrial animals that were found not far from the reptile bones. The region probably resembled today’s Wadden Sea of the North Sea coast, but with a bottom that was not sandy but covered in lime silt.

The shallow depth ensured that cadavers quickly hit the ground, where they were then covered by sediment. If dead animals float in the water for a long time and are tossed back and forth by waves and currents, the probability increases that body parts, such as tail, limbs or head, are lost.

Another important factor was a process called “Stick’n’Peel” by paleontologists: The animal is colonized by microorganisms and algae that hold the skeleton together like a skin. “It was probably these two factors in particular that favored the occurrence of well-preserved finds”, explains Heijne.

In fact, there is some evidence for the Stick’n’Peel hypothesis. For example, some skeletons lack individual larger bones, while the small bones are complete — even though the latter are usually most likely to be carried away by the water. “Such unusual patterns typically occur when a skeleton is unevenly colonized and thus protected”, Heijne explains.

It has long been known that Winterswijk stands out among the sites of the Germanic Basin. Nevertheless, the large number of high-quality finds is likely to surprise even connoisseurs, especially since most of the finds are not accessible to the public. “I have been a member of an association of private collectors in the Netherlands for years”, Heijne explains. This was the ideal contact exchange for his study: “The collectors I approached were all proud to be able to contribute to the research on Winterswijk.”

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Plant survivors of Permian-Triassic mass extinction


This 26 February 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

The Permian-Triassic Boundary – The Rocks of Utah

The Great Dying! In this episode we head out to the Permian-Triassic boundary and try to discover what caused Earth’s Largest mass extinction event, 252 million years ago.

After 4-months of research, I’m excited to finally release this exciting video! A pre-print of the scientific paper is available here.

I’ve submitted this research to the journal “Global and Planetary Change” for peer review.

By Laurel Hamers, 2:12pm, December 20, 2018:

More plants survived the world’s greatest mass extinction than thought

Fossils in a Jordanian desert reveal plant lineages that didn’t perish in the Great Dying

Some ancient plants were survivors.

A collection of roughly 255-million-year-old fossils suggests that three major plant groups existed earlier than previously thought, and made it through a mass extinction that wiped out more than 90 percent of Earth’s marine species and roughly 70 percent of land vertebrates.

The fossils, described in the Dec. 21 Science, push back the earliest records of these plant groups by about 5 million years. “But it’s not just any 5 million years — it’s those 5 million years that span the Permian-Triassic boundary”, says study coauthor Benjamin Bomfleur, a paleobotanist at the University of Münster in Germany. The find adds to the growing list of land plants that survived the catastrophe known as the Great Dying, the world’s greatest mass extinction, which occurred about 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period.

Bomfleur and his colleagues found the new fossils in desert rock outcroppings near the Dead Sea in Jordan. Paleontologists have been searching those rock formations for decades. “Every time we go, we find new fossils”, he says.

At the time these fossils formed, the area had a tropical climate but with prolonged dry periods. Those conditions aren’t good for forming fossils. But surprisingly, these fossils are exceptionally well preserved, Bomfleur says. He and his colleagues were able to wash the rocks with an acid to extract waxy plant cuticles embedded within. The cuticle preserves a mold of microscopic features on the surfaces of fronds or leaves, and those details helped the scientists identify the plant species more accurately.

The team found fossils belonging to the Podocarpacae family, a large group of cone-bearing plants that now live in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s the oldest fossil evidence from any family of conifers that still exists today.

And the fossils showed that two other major seed plant lineages that are now extinct — Bennettitales and Corystospermales — were around during the Permian and survived the die-off. The Bennettitales are particularly noteworthy because they produce flowerlike reproductive structures and might have been distant cousins to flowering plants, which first showed up about 125 million years ago.

Today, the tropics are hot spots for biodiversity, and it’s thought that the ancient tropics were too. But there’s very little fossil evidence, says Fabiany Herrera, a paleobotanist at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Based on previous genetic analyses, it would make sense for some of these ancient tropical plant groups to have survived the mass extinction. “But we had no fossils”, Herrera says — and that’s the only way to know for sure. “Now we have them.”

Permian-Triassic mass extinction by global warming


This July 2018 video says about itself:

252 million years ago 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species vanished, this was the Permian extinction.

From the University of Washington in the USA:

Biggest mass extinction caused by global warming leaving ocean animals gasping for breath

December 6, 2018

Summary: By combining ocean models, animal metabolism and fossil records, researchers show that the Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that left animals unable to breathe. As temperatures rose and the metabolism of marine animals sped up, the warmer waters could not hold enough oxygen for their survival.

The largest extinction in Earth’s history marked the end of the Permian period, some 252 million years ago. Long before dinosaurs, our planet was populated with plants and animals that were mostly obliterated after a series of massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia.

Fossils in ancient seafloor rocks display a thriving and diverse marine ecosystem, then a swath of corpses. Some 96 percent of marine species were wiped out during the “Great Dying”, followed by millions of years when life had to multiply and diversify once more.

What has been debated until now is exactly what made the oceans inhospitable to life — the high acidity of the water, metal and sulfide poisoning, a complete lack of oxygen, or simply higher temperatures.

New research from the University of Washington and Stanford University combines models of ocean conditions and animal metabolism with published lab data and paleoceanographic records to show that the Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that left animals unable to breathe. As temperatures rose and the metabolism of marine animals sped up, the warmer waters could not hold enough oxygen for them to survive.

The study is published in the Dec. 7 issue of Science.

“This is the first time that we have made a mechanistic prediction about what caused the extinction that can be directly tested with the fossil record, which then allows us to make predictions about the causes of extinction in the future”, said first author Justin Penn, a UW doctoral student in oceanography.

Researchers ran a climate model with Earth’s configuration during the Permian, when the land masses were combined in the supercontinent of Pangaea. Before ongoing volcanic eruptions in Siberia created a greenhouse-gas planet, oceans had temperatures and oxygen levels similar to today’s. The researchers then raised greenhouse gases in the model to the level required to make tropical ocean temperatures at the surface some 10 degrees Celsius (20 degrees Fahrenheit) higher, matching conditions at that time.

The model reproduces the resulting dramatic changes in the oceans. Oceans lost about 80 percent of their oxygen. About half the oceans’ seafloor, mostly at deeper depths, became completely oxygen-free.

To analyze the effects on marine species, the researchers considered the varying oxygen and temperature sensitivities of 61 modern marine species — including crustaceans, fish, shellfish, corals and sharks — using published lab measurements. The tolerance of modern animals to high temperature and low oxygen is expected to be similar to Permian animals because they had evolved under similar environmental conditions. The researchers then combined the species’ traits with the paleoclimate simulations to predict the geography of the extinction.

“Very few marine organisms stayed in the same habitats they were living in — it was either flee or perish”, said second author Curtis Deutsch, a UW associate professor of oceanography.

The model shows the hardest hit were organisms most sensitive to oxygen found far from the tropics. Many species that lived in the tropics also went extinct in the model, but it predicts that high-latitude species, especially those with high oxygen demands, were nearly completely wiped out.

To test this prediction, co-authors Jonathan Payne and Erik Sperling at Stanford analyzed late-Permian fossil distributions from the Paleoceanography Database, a virtual archive of published fossil collections. The fossil record shows where species were before the extinction, and which were wiped out completely or restricted to a fraction of their former habitat.

The fossil record confirms that species far from the equator suffered most during the event.

“The signature of that kill mechanism, climate warming and oxygen loss, is this geographic pattern that’s predicted by the model and then discovered in the fossils,” Penn said. “The agreement between the two indicates this mechanism of climate warming and oxygen loss was a primary cause of the extinction.”

The study builds on previous work led by Deutsch showing that as oceans warm, marine animals’ metabolism speeds up, meaning they require more oxygen, while warmer water holds less. That earlier study shows how warmer oceans push animals away from the tropics.

The new study combines the changing ocean conditions with various animals’ metabolic needs at different temperatures. Results show that the most severe effects of oxygen deprivation are for species living near the poles.

“Since tropical organisms’ metabolisms were already adapted to fairly warm, lower-oxygen conditions, they could move away from the tropics and find the same conditions somewhere else,” Deutsch said. “But if an organism was adapted for a cold, oxygen-rich environment, then those conditions ceased to exist in the shallow oceans.”

The so-called “dead zones” that are completely devoid of oxygen were mostly below depths where species were living, and played a smaller role in the survival rates. “At the end of the day, it turned out that the size of the dead zones really doesn’t seem to be the key thing for the extinction,” Deutsch said. “We often think about anoxia, the complete lack of oxygen, as the condition you need to get widespread uninhabitability. But when you look at the tolerance for low oxygen, most organisms can be excluded from seawater at oxygen levels that aren’t anywhere close to anoxic.”

Warming leading to insufficient oxygen explains more than half of the marine diversity losses. The authors say that other changes, such as acidification or shifts in the productivity of photosynthetic organisms, likely acted as additional causes.

The situation in the late Permian — increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that create warmer temperatures on Earth — is similar to today.

“Under a business-as-usual emissions scenarios, by 2100 warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of warming in the late Permian, and by the year 2300 it will reach between 35 and 50 percent,” Penn said. “This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change.”

Triassic dinosaurs, other animals


This 8 November 2018 video by Mario Lanzas from Spain says about itself:

TRIASSIC PERIOD. Early Dinosaurs and other strange animals. Paleoart. Size comparison.

INCLUDED: Scleromochlus, Drepanosaurus, Sharovipteryx, Eudimorphodon, Cynognathus, Lotosaurus, Lystrosaurus, Tawa, Coelophysis, Arizonasaurus, Herrerasaurus, Shringasaurus, Tanystropheus, Postosuchus, Desmatosuchus, Erythrosuchus, Melanorosaurus, Plateosaurus.

Many of these illustrations are maily based on the work of Mark Witton, Scott Hartman and Matt Celeskey.

Huge Triassic mammal-like reptile discovered


An elephant compared to recently discovered mammal-like reptile Lisowicia

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday, November 23, 2018

Giant mammal-like reptile rivalled Triassic dinosaurs in size

DINOSAURS of the late Triassic period had competition in the form of a huge ancestor of today’s mammals, scientists in Poland have revealed.

Researchers have named Lisowicia bojani, an elephant-sized dicynodont, part of a group known as the “mammal-like reptiles” — because of anatomical similarities to mammals, which evolved from similar creatures.

Mammals evolved not from dicynodonts, but from cynodonts, another branch of mammal-like reptiles.

Mammal-like reptiles dominated life on land for 50 million years before the evolution of the first dinosaurs but disappeared in the extinctions at the end of the Triassic that left dinosaurs dominant worldwide.

No, some cynodont mammal-like reptiles survived till the Cretaceous.

Dicynodonts coexisted with dinosaurs for much of the Triassic, but none has previously been found the size of Lisowicia, which was almost 15 feet long and nine feet high at the shoulder.

Polish Academy of Scientists researcher Dr Tomasz Sulej said Lisowicia, named for the Polish village of Lisowice, “changes our ideas about the latest history of dicynodonts.”

See also here.

The scientific description is here.

This 22 November 2018 video says about itself:

A humongous lizard mammal that lived alongside the dinosaurs over 200 million years ago has been discovered in Poland. The herbivorous creature, named Lisowicia bojani, was about 40 percent bigger than any other species of its kind, measuring 4.5 meters in length, 2.6 meters in height and weighing approximately nine tons. This is roughly equivalent to a the size of an elephant.

Triassic, earliest dinosaurs video


This 5 September 2018 video says about itself:

In this video we shall take a look into the earliest and first dinosaurs to have ever existed in this world.

These early dinosaurs are the oldest to be discovered in fossils of the Triassic age timeline.

The earliest dinosaurs are small in size and are mainly bipedal. … The comparison of the first dinosaurs and the large dinosaurs is really contrasting since the larger dinosaurs dwarf the early dinosaurs in height and weight.

The Eoraptor was once thought to be the earliest dinosaur to have existed, but then the Eoraptor lost that title to other early dinosaurs like the Saturnalia and then to the Nyasasaurus.

The Saturnalia predates the Eoraptor by 1 million years and the Nyasasaurus predates the others by more than 10 million years.

The Nyasasaurus is the earliest dinosaur we know, but definitely not the first since there is a probability that other dinosaurs might be found in the future. So, enjoy this video on the First / earliest dinosaurs comparison and timeline. The timeline is in the millions of years in the Triassic.

Timeline: Riojasaurus – 227 MYA, Alwalkeria/Herrerasaurus/Pisanosaurus/Saurikosaurus/Chromogisaurus – 230 MYA, Eoraptor – 231 MYA, Saturnalia – 232 MYA, Spondylosoma – 242 MYA and Nyasasaurus – 243 MYA.

Permian-Triassic mass extinction, new research


This 2017 video says about itself:

The Permian–Triassic extinction event, colloquially known as the Great Dying, the End Permian or the Great Permian Extinction, occurred about 252 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras.

It is the Earth’s most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction of insects. Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct.

Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event, possibly up to 10 million years, although studies in Bear Lake County near the Idaho city of Paris showed a quick and dynamic rebound in a marine ecosystem, illustrating the remarkable resiliency of life.

From the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the USA:

Geologists uncover new clues about largest mass extinction ever

August 27, 2018

A new study could help explain the driving force behind the largest mass extinction in the history of earth, known as the End-Permian Extinction.

The event, also known as the Great Dying, occurred around 250 million years ago when a massive volcanic eruption in what is today the Russian province of Siberia sent nearly 90 percent of all life right into extinction. Geologists call this eruption the Siberian Flood Basalts, and it ran for almost a million years.

“The scale of this extinction was so incredible that scientists have often wondered what made the Siberian Flood Basalts so much more deadly than other similar eruptions”, said Michael Broadley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Petrographic and Geochemical Research in Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France, and lead author of the paper.

The work, which was published in Nature Geoscience, was co-authored by Lawrence (Larry) Taylor, the former director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Taylor, whose prolific career at UT spanned 46 years, passed away in September 2017 at age 79.

According to Broadley, “Taylor was instrumental in supplying samples of mantle xenoliths, rock sections of the lithosphere [a section of the planet located between the crust and the mantle] that get captured by the passing magma and erupted to the surface during the volcanic explosion. Taylor also provided advice throughout the study.”

Through the analysis of samples, Broadley and his team tried to determine the composition of the lithosphere. They found that before the Siberian Flood Basalts took place, the Siberian lithosphere was heavily loaded with chlorine, bromine, and iodine, all chemical elements from the halogen group. However, these elements seem to have disappeared after the volcanic eruption.

“We concluded that the large reservoir of halogens that was stored in the Siberian lithosphere was sent into the earth’s atmosphere during the volcanic explosion, effectively destroying the ozone layer at the time and contributing to the mass extinction”, Broadley said.

Using the fossil record to accurately estimate the timing and pace of past mass extinctions is no easy task, and a new study highlights how fossil evidence can produce a misleading picture if not interpreted with care. Florida Museum of Natural History researchers used a series of 130-foot cores drilled from the Po Plain in northeastern Italy to test a thought experiment: Imagine catastrophe strikes the Adriatic Sea, swiftly wiping out modern marine life. Could this hypothetical mass extinction be reconstructed correctly from mollusks — hard-shelled animals such as oysters and mussels — preserved in these cores? Here.