Piotr Bajdek, Krzysztof Owocki, Andrey G. Sennikov, Valeriy K. Golubev & Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki (2017)
Residues from the Upper Permian carnivore coprolites from Vyazniki in Russia - key questions in reconstruction of feeding habits.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication)
Residues after acid dissolution of twenty five coprolite fragments were studied in detail.
Residues content does not differ significantly between the studied samples.
Fragments of large and serrated teeth crowns were found in the coprolite residues.
Microbial colonies are preserved in coprolites as the Fe-rich mineral structures.
Residues of twenty-five coprolite fragments collected from the Upper Permian of Vyazniki (European Russia) were studied in detail. The phosphatic composition, general shape and size, and bone inclusions of these specimens indicate that medium to large-sized carnivores, such as therocephalian therapsids or early archosauriforms, were the most likely coprolite producers. The contents of the examined fossils (i.e. scale, bone and tooth fragments, mineral grains, and microbial structures) do not differ significantly among the samples, implying fairly comparable feeding habits of their producers. Fragments of large tooth crowns in two of the analyzed samples imply that either (1) the coprolite producer swallowed the cranial elements of its prey or (2) the coprolite producer broke and swallowed its own tooth while feeding (such tooth damage is known in archosaurs that have tooth replacement, e.g. crocodiles and dinosaurs). Indeed, the most complete tooth fragment in these fossils is serrated, most likely belonging to an early archosauriform known from skeletal records from the Late Permian of Vyazniki. Another coprolite fragment contains the etched tooth of a lungfish, while putative actinopterygian fish remains (scales and small fragments of bones) are abundant in some samples. Mineral particles (mostly quartz grains, feldspars and mica) may have been swallowed accidentally. The preserved microbial colonies (mineralized fossil fungi and bacteria or their pseudomorphs), manifested in the coprolites as Fe-rich mineral structures, seem to have developed on the expelled feces rather than on the items before they were swallowed.
Stephen G. B. Chester, Thomas E. Williamson, Jonathan I. Bloch, Mary T. Silcox & Eric J. Sargis (2017)
Oldest skeleton of a plesiadapiform provides additional evidence for an exclusively arboreal radiation of stem primates in the Palaeocene.
Royal Society Open Science 4: 170329
Palaechthonid plesiadapiforms from the Palaeocene of western North America have long been recognized as among the oldest and most primitive euarchontan mammals, a group that includes extant primates, colugos and treeshrews. Despite their relatively sparse fossil record, palaechthonids have played an important role in discussions surrounding adaptive scenarios for primate origins for nearly a half-century. Likewise, palaechthonids have been considered important for understanding relationships among plesiadapiforms, with members of the group proposed as plausible ancestors of Paromomyidae and Microsyopidae. Here, we describe a dentally associated partial skeleton of Torrejonia wilsoni from the early Palaeocene (approx. 62 Ma) of New Mexico, which is the oldest known plesiadapiform skeleton and the first postcranial elements recovered for a palaechthonid. Results from a cladistic analysis that includes new data from this skeleton suggest that palaechthonids are a paraphyletic group of stem primates, and that T. wilsoni is most closely related to paromomyids. New evidence from the appendicular skeleton of T. wilsoni fails to support an influential hypothesis based on inferences from craniodental morphology that palaechthonids were terrestrial. Instead, the postcranium of T. wilsoni indicates that it was similar to that of all other plesiadapiforms for which skeletons have been recovered in having distinct specializations consistent with arboreality.
Charlotte S. Miller, Francien Peterse, Anne-Christine da Silva, Viktória Baranyi, Gert J. Reichart & Wolfram M. Kürschner (2017)
Astronomical age constraints and extinction mechanisms of the Late Triassic Carnian crisis.
Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 2557
The geological record contains evidence for numerous pronounced perturbations in the global carbon cycle, some of which are associated with mass extinction. In the Carnian (Late Triassic), evidence from sedimentology and fossil pollen points to a significant change in climate, resulting in biotic turnover, during a time termed the ‘Carnian Pluvial Episode’ (CPE). Evidence from the marine realm suggests a causal relationship between the CPE, a global ‘wet’ period, and the injection of light carbon into the atmosphere. Here we provide the first evidence from a terrestrial stratigraphic succession of at least five significant negative C-isotope excursions (CIE)’s through the CPE recorded in both bulk organic carbon and compound specific plant leaf waxes. Furthermore, construction of a floating astronomical timescale for 1.09 Ma of the Late Triassic, based on the recognition of 405 ka eccentricity cycles in elemental abundance and gamma ray (GR) data, allows for the estimation of a duration for the isotope excursion(s). Source mixing calculations reveal that the observed substantial shift(s) in δ13C was most likely caused by a combination of volcanic emissions, subsequent warming and the dissociation of methane clathrates.