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Palaeontology


Virologist Ms Mari Toppinen: University of Helsinki: Image: Uzi Varon

Once upon a time there was life
How did it live how did it die or
How it grew young or old or how
It fought to live you ask dig out
Out the bones look for the marks

Munayem Mayenin: November 10, 2015

Wherefore Art Thou the First Animals: We Are At the First Animals and the Origin of Oceanic Eco-systems: July 12: 2019-February 2020

 


|| Tuesday: May 28: 2019 || ά. It is claimed to be a ‘fascinating, new exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, First Animals and the Origin of Oceanic Eco-systems, that aims to challenge its visitors to question the very definition of an animal: ‘What is an animal?’ is a very good question. However, in order to understand giant systems, one, must, begin at the nano-seismic level, which is where is nanocromised the entire giant of a system. Therefore, to change giant systems for the better we must begin at that nanoseismic level; to begin with a nano structure and initiate a nano-change and, that will, with the progression of time, continue building upwards so that, one day, that change shall impact and appear onto the atomic level, that will re-architecture the molecular level and, there, things shall begin to be recrafted and that will bring about changes, fundamental, monumental, seismic and paradigm-shifting, that can now be seen in the reality, that is outside the observer.

A pin-scratch happens at an iron pillar of a giant of a building and no one has come to notice it for along passage of time. But that nano-scratch kept on building up and the weather, the environmental factors, the light, the heat, the cold, the moisture, the rain and the entire other range of variables kept on working at that nano-scratch and that began to grow upward, downward, depth-ward and all-ward and one day that rusting spread in all other structures and, one day, people hear on the news that, that giant building on that Windpipe Street, you know the windpipe, that plays music when the wind arrives, had collapsed! Or, that stranger at the Café, who said, ‘’This entire thing is a system of punishment.’’ No one registered what the stranger looked like or what he said but one lone listener, looked up, registered and noticed and wrote it down in her notebook with a great deal of profound thoughts and ideas, that were generated from the stranger’s strange summary of something.

That notebook got sold in an old scrap-shop and the new person, the buyer of that notebook had read those notes and what that listener wrote. That person writes a piece on it as he was an author and he published it somewhere. Many people read it and spoke about it to other people, who spoke about it to many others and another author, at another corner of the earth finds it and reads it and decides to write a book on that whole presentation, that had arisen out of that stranger saying, ‘This entire thing is system of punishment’ and what intelligent remarks the young woman had added to it and then how all that got presented with elaborate building up of the whole range of issues. He wrote this book and it came to be published, which then got translated into hundreds of world languages and the entire humanity hears about these issues. Now, this book goes back to that listening soul, that began the first archival work of that stranger’s saying and all she wrote about that. By than she had become a successful film director and she makes a film of that book and the story goes on and, then, in hundreds of thousands of theatres across the earth that story gets into as a play: Eventually, that comes to begin something so large following the successful building up of this process, the world became a different world. This is why we, must, keep on working to raise questions and challenge existing and, often, outdated, false or deceptive assumptions to bring about change: fundamental, monumental, seismic and paradigm-shifting change for the world and its desperate humanity are gasping in a state of desperation, that can not go on as this.

The organisers of this Exhibition, might not, have thought of this as they set about organising the event but we present this news to our readers with the invite do so: to think and ask and raise questions to challenge, that what are dying but what are, at the same time, strangling and killing the very human existence on earth. The visitors of this Exhibition are to join a journey by travelling back in time, 600 million years, to when the very origins of all animals, including, humans, began to develop in the world’s oceans. This Exhibition opens on July 12 this year and shall have been going on till February 24, 2020. Make a note of these dates, dear reader and begin something today, at that nano-seismic level and initiate a nano-change and mark that nano-change and let it build up and visit it next year on February 24 and see what it looked like than. Were you a Neurologist, decide to pick up and study Seismology; if, you are an Economist, decide to study, Anthropology, if, you were a Social Worker, decide to study Microbiology or, if, a student of Medicine, decide to study, Political Philosophy, if, you play violin, decide to pick up the Balalaika or an Ocarina or a Recorder. Than, write to The Humanion and tell us all about it.

In an extraordinary evolutionary event, which has never been repeated since, the Earth then experienced a huge increase in new life forms, many of which laid the foundations for the body plans of all subsequent animal life. This occurrence, termed as the Cambrian Explosion, took place over a period of just 20 million years, a mere blink of the eye in geological terms and First Animals will show how amazing fossil evidence from this epoch is being uncovered and investigated to shed new light on our earliest beginnings.

The exhibition will tell this story like never before. For the first time ever, over 60 incredibly well-preserved specimens, each hundreds of millions of years old, will travel to Oxford from sites across the globe. This includes a significant loan of 55 fossils from Yunnan University in Chengjiang, China, along with other evidence from Burgess Shale, Canada and Sirius Passet, Greenland.

One of the highlights of First Animals will certainly be the museum’s interactive Cambrian Diver installation, which will allow users to explore a 360-degree ocean in a virtual submersible craft. On the dive they will learn more about some of the key animals in the exhibition and how they existed as part of the very first animal ecosystems.

Digital reconstructions will, also, bring these enigmatic creatures to life, with the animations helping visitors to visualise what they, may, have looked like, how they moved and to understand their roles within an ecosystem. At selected times, visitors will, also, be able to immerse themselves in a Cambrian ocean virtual reality experience, First Life VR, complete with narration by natural history legend Sir David Attenborough.

By presenting the unique Chengjiang fossils alongside more than 70 specimens from the Museum’s collection, visitors will be able to see how the body plans, which evolved in the very earliest creatures can still be found in all the major animal groups today. The Chengjiang fossils are the star loans of First Animals. Their significance can not be overstated, as they represent a uniquely complete snapshot of the diversity of animals appearing during the Cambrian Explosion. Older than other well-preserved fossils from this era, the range and preservation of the Chengjiang fossils make them one of the most informative and, therefore, important, Cambrian fossil deposits in the world, providing an insight into the very first animals that we would recognise today.

The 55 specimens on loan represent 11 of the major groups of animal life, as well as, a number of enigmatic and starkly different forms, including, tiny worms, large predatory arthropods, invertebrate animals, such as, insects, arachnids and crustaceans and the early ancestors of vertebrates.
“After billions of years, in which bacteria were the only lifeforms, a combination of local and global environmental changes kick-started the evolution of animal life on Earth. First Animals shows how new techniques, analysis and fossil evidence are opening up new understanding of the origins of animal life, now dated to almost 600 million years ago.” says Professor Paul Smith, the Director of Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

“Visitors to the exhibition will encounter strange, enigmatic creatures and ancient eco-systems. They will be able to contemplate their earliest animal ancestor, a hypothetical first animal and, through digital reconstructions, will come face to face with creatures, that changed the planet forever: the first predators and the first prey.”

The loan of the Chengjiang fossils is made possible by the generosity of Yunnan University and the partnership between Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Yunnan Key Laboratory for Palaeobiology. First Animals will, also, include an artistic perspective on the earliest animal life through the Museum’s collaboration with the Oxford Printmakers Co-operative. Twenty-two members of the group are working closely with Museum research scientists to create individual prints, that respond to fossils on display in the exhibition.

This large body of works will be presented in the First Impressions trail around the Museum, allowing art lovers and fossil enthusiasts alike to discover original artwork amongst the Museum’s fossil collections.
First Animals is free to visit. For more information, swim over to the Museum website.

About Oxford University Museum of Natural History: Founded in 1860 as the centre for scientific study at the University of Oxford, the Museum now holds the University’s internationally significant collections of entomological, geological and zoological specimens. Housed in a stunning Pre-Raphaelite-inspired example of neo-Gothic architecture, the Museum’s growing collections underpin a broad programme of natural environment research, teaching and public engagement. In 2015, the Museum was a Finalist in the Art Fund Prize for ‘Museum of the Year’. In 2016, it won the top accolade, ‘Best of the Best’, in the Museums and Heritage Awards.

About Oxford Printmakers Co-operative: Oxford Printmakers Co-operative has been running for over forty years as a non-profit making organisation, offering a high standard of professional printmaking facilities for a hundred members in their East Oxford workshop. The group will be displaying further work inspired by the First Animals exhibition at the North Wall Arts Centre in Oxford, July 09-August 10, 2019.

Caption: Images: Oxford University Museum of Natural History:::ω.
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Study and You Shall Learn: The Cheddar Man Says: The Ancient DNA Shows Migrants Introduced Farming to Britain From Europe

 

 

|| Sunday: April 28: 2019: UCL News || ά. Farming was brought to Britain by migrants from continental Europe and not adopted by pre-existing hunter-gatherers, indicates a new ancient DNA Study, led by UCL and the Natural History Museum, in collaboration with Harvard University. The Study, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, examines the DNA from 47 Neolithic, New Stone Age, farmer skeletons, dating from 6,000 to 4,500 years ago and six Mesolithic, Middle Stone Age, hunter-gatherer skeletons from the preceding period, 11,600-6,000 years ago, including, the Cheddar Man, the oldest, near-complete human skeleton found in Britain.

Professor Mark Thomas, UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment, an author of the Study, said, “The transition to farming marks one of the most important technological innovations in human evolution. It first appeared in Britain around 6,000 years ago; prior to that people survived by hunting, fishing and gathering. For over 100 years archaeologists have debated, if, it was brought to Britain by immigrant continental farmers or, if, was adopted by local hunter-gatherers. Our Study strongly supports the view that immigrant farmers introduced agriculture into Britain and largely replaced the indigenous hunter-gatherers populations.”

In continental Europe it is now known that farming was spread by migrating farmer populations, who, ultimately, originated in regions around the Aegean Sea, albeit, with some mixing with indigenous hunter-gatherers. Starting around 8,000 years ago, they expanded throughout continental Europe along two main corridors: the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhine-Danube axis of Central Europe.

“But Britain is a strange case.” said Dr Tom Booth, Archaeologist at the Natural History Museum:NHM and co-author of the Study. “Firstly, farming was practised for up to 1,000 years on the other side of the English Channel before it came to Britain, providing plenty of time for British hunter-gatherers to have adopted agriculture through interactions with their continental neighbours; a view, that many archaeologists hold today. And, secondly, prior to our Study, nobody had read the DNA of those British hunter-gatherers, to see, if, they had persisted and adopted farming practices themselves.”

Dr Selina Brace, ancient DNA researcher at the NHM and lead author of the Study said, “After extracting DNA from Cheddar Man’s inner ear bone, we were delighted at the preservation of his DNA. It’s likely that the cool dry burial conditions in Gough’s Cave were a key factor in keeping his DNA preserved.’’

“We found that British Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were closely related to other hunter-gatherers living previously in Western Europe and shared some aspects of their appearance.” said co-author, Dr Yoan Diekmann, UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment. “Like their Mesolithic continental relatives, they had, typically, dark skin but light eye pigmentation.”

Professor Thomas said, “After 6,000 years ago we only see farmers in Britain and their ancestry is different. Not only do they have predominantly the same Aegean ancestry as other continental farmers but, our data suggest that ancestry came to Britain via the Mediterranean corridor.”

Professor Ian Barnes, ancient DNA expert at the NHM and co-author of the Study, said, “Because continental farmer populations had mixed to some extent with local hunter-gatherers as they expanded along both the Mediterranean and Rhine-Danube corridors, as well as, later, we expected to see some mixing in Britain as well.”

To our surprise and, with the exception of a few individuals in Scotland, we see little genetic evidence of ancestry from Cheddar Man and British Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in early British farmers or, indeed, later. It is difficult to say why this is but, it, may be, that those last British hunter-gatherers were relatively few in number. Even, if, these two populations had mixed completely, the ability of adapt continental farmers and their descendants to maintain larger population sizes would produce a significant diminishing of hunter-gatherer ancestry over time.”

Co-author Professor David Reich, a Harvard Geneticist said, “By studying ancient DNA, we see that 90% of Britain’s population was replaced about 4,500 years ago by large-scale population movement from the continent and this new Study shows a more dramatic 99% replacement a millennium and a half earlier. This means that Briton’s derive only about a thousandth of their ancestry from the hunter-gatherers, who inhabited the island ~6,000 years ago, highlighting, how people living in any one place today are rarely the primary descendants of the people, who lived in the same place in the deep past.”

While the new Study answers the old question of whether farming was brought to Britain by continental farmers, it does not answer the question of why it took so long for farming populations to move into Britain after arriving in northwest continental Europe.

The researchers say that it, may be, to do with climate, technology or, perhaps, social factors. The megalith-building cultures to which the British Neolithic belongs have a peculiarly maritime focus and emerge out of western France just before the beginning of the Neolithic in Britain.

Dr Brace said, “We see evidence for at least two populations of farmers entering Britain from different parts of continental Europe around the same time. After a thousand years of gazing across the Channel, it is curious to wonder what changed in the circumstances of these farmers, which meant that Britain was suddenly seen to be worth the hassle.”:::ω.

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In Search of Darwin’s Rabbits: Or Rather Their Bones: Or Better Still Their DNAs and the Mechanism of Their Developing Resistance to Myxomatosis Through Natural Selection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

|| February 18: 2019: University of Manchester News || ά. Nearly, seventy years after Myxomatosis decimated the rabbit populations of Australia, Britain and France, a new Study shows how the species has evolved genetic resistance to the disease through natural selection. This unprecedented Study of rabbit DNA, spanning 150 years and thousands of miles has shown the genetic basis for the animal’s fightback against the deadly myxoma virus. Using the latest technology, an international team of researchers, which included Dr Liisa Loog from the University of Manchester and led by the University of Cambridge and CIBIO Institute in Porto, extracted DNA from nearly 200 rabbits, dating from 1865-2013, including, one, owned by Charles Darwin.

The scientists, then, sequenced nearly 20,000 genes to pinpoint mutations, that have emerged since the Myxomatosis pandemics of the 1950s. The Study, published in the journal Science, establishes that modern rabbits in Australia, the UK and France have acquired resistance to Myxomatosis through the same genetic changes. The scientists, also, discovered that this resistance relies on the cumulative impact of multiple mutations of different genes. Three, particularly, significant mutations were discovered in the IFN-alpha 21A gene, which sets off a protein-based alarm in rabbit cells, when a virus is detected.

In the lab, the researchers produced the form of the protein found in rabbits in the 1950s and the different form found today. Lead Author of the Paper Mr Joel Alves said, “We compared rabbits, collected before the virus outbreak in the 1950s with modern populations, that evolved resistance and found that the same genes had changed in all three countries. Many of these genes play a key role in the rabbit immune system. Often, evolution works through big changes in single genes but our findings show that resistance to Myxomatosis likely evolved through lots of small effects spread across the genome.”

Professor Francis Jiggins, Senior Author of the Paper, from Cambridge’s Department of Genetics, said, “We sent these proteins into battle with different strains of the virus and that’s when we saw, on a molecular level, how rabbits have been fighting back over all these years.”

Australia unleashed Myxomatosis on an out of control rabbit population in 1950. The European rabbit is thought to have been introduced to the country by Thomas Austin, an English settler, in the 1850s. Within a century, they numbered hundreds of millions. The species wreaked havoc on Australia’s native plants and animals but in less than three months, Myxomatosis had spread 2,000 km and killed 99 per cent of infected animals. In 1952, the virus was illegally introduced in France and in 1953 it reached the UK, leading to similarly devastating results in both countries.

Scientists soon began tracking the evolution of both the virus and the rabbits and in all three countries, they observed a substantial drop in fatality rates. They concluded that this was due to the disease becoming less virulent but, also, rabbits becoming more resistant. Animal populations exhibit considerable genetic variation in susceptibility to infection, which allows for rapid evolution of resistance, when exposed to new diseases.

The pandemics of the 1950s triggered a, particularly, intense process of natural selection. Those initial findings have become a textbook example of host-parasite co-evolution but this new study offers a far more detailed picture of what has been happening in rabbits.

The researchers collected historical samples from 11 natural history museums in the UK, France, Australia and the United States. One of the rabbits, from which DNA was sequenced belonged to Charles Darwin and is now housed in London’s Natural History Museum.

Mr Joel Alves said, “It wasn’t easy to get samples from so many long-dead rabbits. Not all natural history museums keep rabbits because they are not very exotic compared to other species. But the museums we worked with have done a great job of keeping their specimens well preserved for decades. This and the availability of new technology gave us a unique opportunity.”

At a time, when rabbit populations are collapsing across the UK and mainland Europe, this research, may, provide clues to the animal’s future. The researchers found that the protein, that helps rabbits fend off the Myxoma virus, also, has an anti-viral effect on an unrelated virus, called, vesicular stomatitis. Mr Miguel Carneiro, from CIBIO, University of Porto, said, “While battling Myxoma, rabbits, may, have increased their resistance to other viruses, including, perhaps, rabbit haemorrhagic disease, which is killing so many animals right now.”

Meanwhile, Myxoma remains a serious threat to rabbits. “Viral evolution appears to be finding ways to counter the genetic adaptations, which we’ve observed. Recent, more virulent recent strains of Myxoma virus, have been found to be extremely immune-suppressive. So, the arms race goes on.” Mr Joel Alves said.:::ω.

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100 Million-Year-Old Fossilised Fish Slime Shakes Up the Human Family Tree

 

 

 

|| January 27: 2019: University of Manchester News || ά. An international team of palaeontologists, including, researchers from the University of Manchester, have uncovered evolutionary secrets hidden in the 100-million-year-old fossil of a hagfish, a slimy, eel-like scavenger, that lived in an ancient ocean. Researchers from the University of Chicago identified the first detailed fossil of a hagfish along with scientists from Manchester. The Manchester team was led by Professor Phil Manning and Professor Roy Wogelius, who used powerful x-rays, generated at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, a cyclic particle accelerator to scan a unique fossil.

The results have helped answer questions on when these ancient, jawless fish branched-off the vertebrate evolutionary tree. The discovery is incredibly important as it changes our view of the evolutionary lineage, that gave rise to modern-day jawed vertebrates, from bony fish to humans. The research is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The fossil, named, Tethymyxine Tapirostrum, was discovered in Lebanon and is a 30 cm long jawless fish, embedded in a piece of Cretaceous Period limestone.

Professor Manning, the Chair of Natural History at the University of Manchester, said, “This is an extremely significant discovery as it recalibrates our understanding of the evolutionary history of all early vertebrates, an ancestral line, that leads to all jawed beasties, including us Humans!

This wonderful fossil plugs a 100-million-year gap in the fossil record and shows that hagfish are more closely related to the lamprey than to other fishes. The chemical maps produced at SSRL enabled our team to see, for the first time, the anatomical features so crucial to the interpretation of this very distant relative.”

Lampreys are another form of ancient, blood-sucking, jawless fish, also, still in existence today. These findings show that both the hagfish and lamprey evolved their eel-like body form and strange feeding systems after they branched off from the rest of the vertebrate line of ancestry about 500 million years ago.

Dr Tetsuto Miyashita, a Fellow in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at Chicago, who led the research, said, “This is a major reorganisation of the family tree of all fish and their descendants. This allows us to put an evolutionary date on unique traits, that set hagfish apart from all other animals.”

Hagfish have a unique defense mechanism in the wild to ward off ocean predators. When being hunted in the sea, they can instantly turn the water around them into a cloud of slime, clogging the gills of would-be predators, such as sharks. It was this ability to produce slime that made Tethymyxine fossil all the more important and rare.’’

The discrete chemistry locked within the fossil could only be mapped using synchrotron-based imaging techniques developed by the Manchester:SSRL team. Manchester is an established world leader in the synchrotron-based imaging of fossil remains. This technique has permitted the team to identify the ‘chemical ghost’ of the preserved soft tissue and slime glands of the fossil. Soft tissues are rarely preserved as fossils, which is why there are so few examples of ancient hagfish relatives to study.

The scanning picked up a signal for keratin, the same material, that makes up fingernails in humans. Keratin is a crucial part of what makes the hagfish slime defence so effective.

Professor Wogelius, the Chair of Geo-chemistry at the University of Manchester, said, ‘’Our team at Manchester has been using these increasingly sophisticated imaging techniques to help us better understand ancient fossils and resolve chemistry derived from both the organism and the environment in which they were preserved.”

Professor Manning said, ‘’This ‘chemical’ fossil has offered new and exciting evidence that has enabled a more robust reconstruction of the vertebrate family tree. However, it was, only, made possible through the collaboration of an international team, as Darwin, once, said, ‘’In the long history of humankind and animal kind, too, those, who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.’’

Caption: Modern Hag Fish: Image: University of Manchester:::ω.

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Year Delta Arkive 2018-19

Year Gamma Arkive 2017-18

Year Beta Arkive 2016-17

Year Alpha Arkive 2015-16

Life's Laurel Is You In One-Line-Poetry A Heaven-Bound Propagated Ray Of Light Off The Eye Of The Book Of Life: Love For You Are Only Once

 

 

Life: You Are The Law The Flow The Glow: In Joys In Hurts You Are The Vine-Songs On The Light-Trellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

|| All copyrights @ The Humanion: London: England: United Kingdom || Contact: The Humanion: editor at thehumanion.com || Regine Humanics Foundation Ltd: reginehumanics at reginehumanicsfoundation.com || Editor: Munayem Mayenin || First Published: September 24: 2015 ||
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