Tagged: fossils

Cyanobacteria: Good week, or bad week..? Part III

This is the third of our quartet of posts looking at the newsworthy world of the blue-greens. Asteroids, bad for dinosaurs, but good for cyanobacteria? This really good news for cyanobacteria – both benign and bad blue-green species – comes from investigation into the consequences of the Chicxulub asteroid. This is the Yucatán Peninsula (in modern-day México)-denting phenomenon that is implicated in causing a mass extermination event, the K-T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) or, alternatively, the end-Cretaceous, or even the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) Extinction, approx. 66 millions of years ago (Ma) (Peter Schulte et al., 2010). Attention-grabbingly, and a sensationalist headline-writer’s dream come true,...

Continue reading Cyanobacteria: Good week, or bad week..? Part III

Eydeia jerseyensis

Fossil fruits reveal Late Cretaceous rise of Cornales, the dogwood order

The asterids (>80 000 living species) appear in the fossil record with considerable diversity during the Late Cretaceous (~90 Ma) and are strongly represented by Cornales (order of dogwoods). These early cornaleans have been reported from sites in Western North America and Eastern Asia. In this study, Atkinson et al. characterize a new cornalean species, Eydeia jerseyensis, based on charcoalified fruits from the Upper Turonian (~90 Ma) of Eastern North America, a separate landmass from Western North America at the time. They suggest that the diversity and distribution of Cornales at their earliest appearance indicate that the asterids evolved much...

Continue reading Fossil fruits reveal Late Cretaceous rise of Cornales, the dogwood order

Volcano

Plants and Pinatubo, Prestahnukur, Popocatépetl…

Plants are generally sessile organisms that, unlike their puny animal ‘cousins’, can’t get up and run away if the environment is not to their liking. Botanicals by-and-large put up and shut up. Accordingly, that fundamental fact of their existence has led them to adapt to a remarkable array of abiotic factors, e.g. temperature, drought, high light levels, low light levels, excess UV, salinity, fire, heavy metals, herbivory, etc. Yet, however long and imaginative that list may be, what are the chances that you would have included volcanoes (ruptures on the Earth’s crust “that allow hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases...

Continue reading Plants and Pinatubo, Prestahnukur, Popocatépetl…



Cretaceous flowers of Ericales

Cretaceous flowers of Ericales

The rapid increase in knowledge of the fossil record of angiosperms in the past 30 years has provided important evidence on the antiquity of different lineages. Schönenberger et al. add to the fossil record of asterids with the description of an exceptionally well-preserved flower from Georgia, USA, from the Late Cretaceous named here as Glandulocalyx upatoiensis. The fossil is preserved as charcoal and investigations by standard scanning electron microscopy, as well as synchrotron-radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy, have made it possible to describe the flower in great detail. Morphological characterization of the fossil indicates a relationship to core Ericales and specifically...

Continue reading Cretaceous flowers of Ericales

Friedrich Justin Bertuch, Bilderbuch für Kinder, 1790–1830.

Phytophoenixism

In biology, matters are rarely either good or bad; oftentimes they may be both at once (albeit usually for different organisms). Take for instance hydrogen cyanide, which is widely regarded to be rather bad since it is a potent poison that can kill most living things by ‘interfering’ (that’s a euphemism!) with respiration. However, it seems that cyanide also has a good side. Apart from its role in deterring would-be herbivores, Gavin Flematti et al. propose that it may also act as an important stimulus for the germination of some seeds (Nature Communications). The Australia-based group showed that burning plant...

Continue reading Phytophoenixism

The Meskel daisy, Bidens pachyloma, from Ethiopia

Cerrado ecosystems and the Meskal Daisy on the cover

The third in a series of videoblogs from AoBBlog.com about the background pictures used on Annals of Botany covers. The Youtube link is here, and it is best watched in HD/1080p resolution. An outline of the text is below the video insert below, and the text includes some extra links. A shrubby tree, Plumeria ?rubra from the Apocynaceae featured as the background on the 2011 Annals of Botany cover. The picture was taken in the Brazilian cerrado. The adaptation to fire with the bark and rapid sprouting following the first rains after the fire is clear. This is an exceptional...

Continue reading Cerrado ecosystems and the Meskal Daisy on the cover

Professor Mark A. Wilson, The College of Wooster, Ohio/Wikimedia Commons.

Rocks versus Clocks

What happened 670 million years ago? Can’t remember? Doesn’t matter, that’s why we have palaeobotanists. Palaeobotanists that is whose science it seems has been much under-appreciated amidst the high expectations, hope and hype surrounding modern methods of inferring evolutionary information from so-called ‘molecular clocks’. Or at least that appears to be the sub-text to the mammoth paper by John Clarke and colleagues that aims to pin down a time scale for plant evolution (New Phytologist 192: 266–301, 2011), a subject that should be dear to the hearts of all who read this column. Challenging phytophylochronologies derived from molecular approaches, the...

Continue reading Rocks versus Clocks