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Inproceedings Reference La locomotion des mésonychidés européens (Mesonychia, Mammalia): Born to run ?
Les Mesonychia appartiennent à un groupe éteint de mammifères prédateurs à sabots. Diversifiés (plus de 20 genres actuellement répertoriés ; Szalay et Gould 1966 ; Rose 2006), ils sont connus dans l’ensemble de la Laurasia (Asie, Europe, Amérique du Nord), du Paléocène inférieur à l’Oligocène inférieur. Les Mesonychia sont séparés en deux familles : Hapalodectidae et Mesonychidae (Szalay et Gould 1966; Solé et al. 2018). Ces derniers ont connu deux événements radiatifs : au Paléocène, avec la diversification des clades de « Dissacus », et au début de l’Éocène, avec l’apparition de mésonychidés spécialisés regroupés, notamment, dans le clade Mesonyx (Solé et al., 2018). Les Mesonychidae étaient présents en Europe à partir du Paléocène supérieur (Thanétien) jusqu’à la fin de l’Éocène inférieur (Yprésien). Deux genres, « Dissacus » et Pachyaena, y ont été identifiés. Mis à part Pachyaena gigantea (Vaugirard, France, début de l’Yprésien) et « Dissacus » europaeus (Cernay et Berru, France, Thanétien tardif), décrits respectivement par Boule (1903) et Thewissen (1991), les mésonychidés européens ont été décrits à partir d’éléments dentaires. Cependant, ces dernières années, plusieurs éléments dentaires et postcrâniens ont été découverts dans les localités de l’Éocène inférieur de Palette (France ; MP7) et de La Borie (France ; MP8+9). Nous avons récemment étudié ces nouveaux restes, mais également révisé ceux du P. gigantea de Vaugirard, décrits mais uniquement partiellement représentés au début du 20ème siècle (Boule 1903). Leur description comparative permet de reconstruire l’évolution de la locomotion des mésonychidés européens et d’inclure ces nouvelles données morphologiques dans la matrice portant sur les parentés au sein des Mesonychia récemment améliorée par Solé et al. (2018). Les analyses phylogénétiques (en parcimonie standard et en bayésien « tip dating » mettent en évidence un clade regroupant la plupart des espèces européennes : ceci permet d’imaginer qu’un groupe de mésonychidés a évolué de manière endémique en Europe. Nous proposons de réutiliser un nom de genre proposé par Lemoine (1891) pour l’une des espèces de ce clade : Hyaenodictis. Il regroupe dorénavant cinq espèces auparavant référées au genre « Dissacus ». Concernant l’écologie, nous concluons que Hyaenodictis raslanloubatieri (La Borie) et Hyaenodictis rougierae (Palette) étaient dorsostables, digitigrades spécialisés et coureurs, alors que P. gigantea était plantigrade – bien qu’également coureur. Les différences de posture et de masse corporelle de ces deux genres reflètent une différence de niche écologique ne corroborant pas l’hypothèse selon laquelle Pachyaena aurait pu être remplacé écologiquement par Hyaenodictis au cours de l’Yprésien. Ce nouveau matériel postcrânien de mésonychidés européens permet de constater une convergence avec certains mésonychidés nord-américains appartenant au clade Mesonyx. Des similitudes morphologiques (e.g., disparition du foramen de l’astragale) liées à une même locomotion sont en effet observées sur les deux continents.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Inproceedings Reference Apports de la chémostratigraphie "long-terme" (isotopes stables du carbone sur la matière organique) à la datation de mammifères durant le Paléogène
Depuis quelques décennies, les rapides (« court-terme » - quelques dizaines à quelques centaines de milliers d’années) excursions d’isotopes stables (δ13C et δ18O) sur différents types de supports (roche totale carbonatée, nodules de paléosols, certaines espèces animales et végétales, matière organique totale ou spécifique) servent de jalons chémostratigraphiques éprouvés durant le Paléogène (Late Danian Event, PETM ou ETM-1, ETM-2, ETM-3, MECO, Oi-1, Oi-1a, etc). Récemment, les tendances isotopiques des mêmes éléments, utilisées à « long-terme » (quelques centaines de milliers d’années à quelques millions d’années) montrent une certaine utilité, particulièrement dans les coupes dépourvues d’autres informations stratigraphiques. Des coupes strictement continentales peuvent être ainsi corrélées avec les échelles chronostratigraphiques marines. A partir de plusieurs études de cas spécifiques au Maroc, Sud de la France (Corbières, Minervois, région de Montpellier, Provence), Angola et Belgique, la présente communication illustrera les contraintes, biais et perspectives de la chémostratigraphie (appelée également chimiostratigraphie) « long-terme » du carbone sur la matière organique totale. Des corrélations inter-régionales, voire inter-continentales (notamment avec le Wyoming, USA), sont mises en évidence en couplant bio- et chémo-stratigraphie, autorisant une discussion de l’évolution des mammifères dans différentes régions, y compris celles contenant des faunes strictement endémiques.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Inproceedings Reference Amphibians and Squamates from the Late Pleistocene of Caverne Marie-Jeanne (Belgium)
Archaeological sites usually provide important information about the past distribution of the small vertebrate fauna, and by extension about past terrestrial environments and climate in which human activities took place. In this context, Belgium has an interesting location in North-western Europe between the well-studied zooarchaeological record of Germany and England. The Late Pleistocene (Marine Isotope Stages 3 and 2) locality of Caverne Marie-Jeanne (southeast of Belgium, Ardennes region) yielded a large collection of disarticulated bone fragments and numerous plant, mollusk, and archaeological remains. They have been collected during the first field campaign in 1943 and stored in the Quaternary collections of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. A recent revision of the rich micromammal fauna (31 taxa of insectivores, bats, and rodents among 9897 identified specimens, corresponding to a minimum of 4980 individuals) revealed the presence of the steppe lemming and the European pine vole. We present here the revision of the herpetofauna based on the 1970 Jean-Claude Rage’s study and the revision of the “indeterminate” small vertebrate specimens. It is now by far the largest Late Pleistocene collection of the Belgian institute with more than 20,500 recognized bones of amphibians and reptiles and covering the last 60,000 years. The herpetofaunal list now comprises two urodeles (Lissotriton gr. L. vulgaris and Salamandra salamandra), four anurans (Bufo gr. B. bufo-spinosus, Epidalea calamita, Rana temporaria and Rana cf. R. arvalis), three lizards (Lacerta cf. L. agilis, Zootoca vivipara and Anguis gr. A. fragilis) and three snakes (Natrix gr. N. natrix-astreptophora, Coronella austriaca and Vipera berus). This study highlights the first fossil record in Belgium for L. gr. L. vulgaris, R. arvalis, Z. vivipara, N. gr. N. natrix-astretophora and C. austriaca. This assemblage suggests a patchy humid landscape under colder and dryer climatic conditions in comparison with present ones. The study also underlines the importance to carefully reexamine old collections. Grant Information: Grant 2017-SGR-859 (Gov. of Catalonia, AGAUR), CGL2016-80000-P (Spanish Min. of Econ. & Comp.), RYC-2016-19386 (Ramón y Cajal), Synthesys BE-TAF-4385, -5469, -5468, -5708.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Inproceedings Reference X-ploring new tools for paleontologists: the RBINS-RMCA micro-CT lab at your service!
X-ray computed tomography (CT-) scanning is revolutionizing the study of extinct organisms. Its non-invasive and non-destructive character makes it currently by far the most potent method to allow fossils to be studied in three dimensions and with unprecedented detail. More importantly, and differing from other 3D techniques, CT-scanning looks through and inside objects, revealing hidden structures and characters. Recent innovations in the field of CT-scanning allow obtaining details up to a few micrometers in resolution, and higher quality images of relatively dense materials, like fossils, even when wholly encased in hard sediment (Keklikoglou et al., 2019). In 2016, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) acquired two high-end X-ray CT machines: the micro-CT RX EasyTom and the nano-CT XRE-Tescan UniTom. Both scanners are currently nearly full time in use to help accomplishing the gigantic task of the digitization of the RBINS and Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) type collections, the aim of two multi-year Belspo funded projects, DiSSCo-Fed (2018-2023) and DIGIT-4 (2019-2024). With about 300.000 types and 48.000.000 general specimens, 46.000 and 3.000.000 respectively in their paleontology collections, the results of nearly two centuries of intensive collecting and research, these two Belgian Federal Scientific Institutions (FSI’s) are major players in the European framework of scientific research infrastructures for natural history. Digitizing this large number of types, spread across almost the entire Tree of Life, and exhibiting an entire array of differing taphonomies, results in a steadily growing expertise of the RBINS-RMCA micro-CT lab (Brecko et al., 2018). While the newly acquired infrastructure and ongoing digitization projects are primarily oriented towards the digitization of type and figured specimens, these also offer great opportunities for researchers and teachers in various disciplines of paleontology. Targeting on researchers interested in incorporating micro-CT as a technique in their research projects, the current digitization workflow of the RBINS-RMCA micro-CT lab will be presented. While micro-CT offers many advantages, there are also pitfalls and limitations that need to be considered. Based on our expertise, and illustrated by some of our scanning results, important constraints that may block the pathway between your expectations and perfect micro-CT-imaging results that can be fully incorporated into research projects will be presented. Possible effects of some of the most important parameters that may influence the quality of the output, and thus can increase the signal to noise ratio (SNR) will be reviewed, such as the size and shape of the specimen to be scanned, the density of its matrix the specimen is made of or encased in, the presence of certain minerals (e.g. pyrite) and how these may be distributed inside the specimen (e.g. finely disseminated, dense masses or crystals), the best possible resolution in relation to the specimen and preferred output, the time needed to scan a specimen, the choice between machines to be used and their limits and different possible scan settings (e.g. beam power, filters…). Post-processing parameters to be considered are the size of the image stack output (will the computer be able to handle the amount of Gigabytes?), the time needed to render and segment regions of interest and optimize 3D-models, and which format suits best to visualize and export the data (renderings, meshes, videos, virtual sections…). While segmentation may be a time-consuming task, new developments like the incorporation of artificial intelligence (e.g. the Deep Learning function in Dragonfly ORS) offer great potential to reduce the workload in complex segmentation. Many researchers are also teachers. The reason why they may also be particularly interested in the 3D models of the already digitized types that are available on the Virtual Collections platforms of the RBINS (http://virtualcollections.naturalsciences.be/) and RMCA (https://virtualcol.africamuseum.be/). While 3D models are not intended to replace physical specimens, they may become significant teaching aids in both the physical and virtual classroom. In addition, the presence of a steadily growing number of 3D-models and animations of extant animals that are also added to these Virtual Collections, would allow teachers to connect fossils (in general incomplete) with extant (more complete) relatives. Last but not least, while the focus of this communication is largely on micro-CT, some of the many other new techniques that are being tested, used and improved will be highlighted (see e.g. Brecko & Mathys, 2020; Brecko et al., 2014, 2016, 2018; Mathys et al., 2013, 2019 for some examples). Interested in our work, expertise, techniques, equipment, or scans-on-demand? Please do not hesitate to reach out! References Brecko, J., Lefevre, U., Locatelli, C., Van de Gehuchte, E., Van Noten, K., Mathys, A., De Ceukelaire, M., Dekoninck, W., Folie, A., Pauwels, O., Samyn, Y., Meirte, D., Vandenspiegel, D. & Semal, P. 2018. Rediscovering the museum’s treasures: μCT digitisation of the type collection. Poster presented at 6th annual Tomography for Scientific Advancement (ToScA) symposium, Warwick, England, 10-12 Sept 2018. Brecko, J. & Mathys, A., 2020. Handbook of best practice and standards for 2D+ and 3D imaging of natural history collections. European Journal of Taxonomy, 623, 1-115. Brecko, J., Mathys, A., Dekoninck, W., De Ceukelaire, M., VandenSpiegel, D. & Semal, P., 2016. Revealing Invisible Beauty, Ultra Detailed: The Influence of Low-Cost UV Exposure on Natural History Specimens in 2D+ Digitization. PLoS One 11(8):e0161572. Brecko, J., Mathys, A., Dekoninck, W., Leponce, M., Vanden Spiegel, D. & Semal, P., 2014. Focus stacking: Comparing commercial top-end set-ups with a semi-automatic low budget approach. A possible solution for mass digitization of type specimens. Zookeys, 464, 1-23. Keklikoglou, K., Faulwetter, S., Chatzinikolaou, E., Wils, P., Brecko, J., Kvaček, J., Metscher, B. & Arvanitidis, C. 2019. Micro-computed tomography for natural history specimens: a handbook of best practice protocols. European Journal of Taxonomy, 522, 1-55. Mathys, A., Semal, P., Brecko, J. & Van den Spiegel, D., 2019. Improving 3D photogrammetry models through spectral imaging: Tooth enamel as a case study. PLoS One, 14(8): e0220949. Mathys, A., Brecko, J., Di Modica, K., Abrams, G., Bonjean, D. & Semal, P., 2013. Agora 3D. Low cost 3D imaging: a first look for field archaeology. Notae Praehistoricae, 33/2013, 33-42.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inproceedings Reference Shallow-water holothuroid (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) biodiversity and biogeography of the subtropical coast of South Africa
see pdf
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Inproceedings Reference ROBOMINERS: changing the ground rules
Nowadays we are faced with several challenges regarding mineral exploration and exploitation in Europe. The biggest accessible deposits have already been discovered and exploited, with some of those mines dating back of thousands of years. What remains now are the small and difficult to access deposits, leading to the needs of new and more sustainable mining methods. In the last years several projects like ROBOMINERS were started with the expectation to have relevant impact in social, technological, environmental and economical areas and aiming to help in (i) reducing EU dependency on import of raw materials, (ii) pushing the EU to the forefront in sustainable minerals surveying and exploration technologies and to (iii) improve resource efficiency and responsible sourcing. The main objective of the ROBOMINERS project is to develop a Bio-Inspired, Modular and Reconfigurable Robot Miner, equipped with selective mining perception and mining tools for small and difficult to access deposits. A consortium that includes geoscientists, roboticists and engineers is working to build a modular robot prototype (Technology Readiness Level 4 to 5), design a new mining system via simulation and modelling and to use the prototype to study and advance future research on different areas of robotics and raw materials alike (Lopez and al. 2020). ROBOMINERS will not reach its end-state by the end of the project. Therefore, it already prepares future development with visions for 2030 and 2050, coinciding with important EU targets (2030: reduce GHG emissions, more renewable energy; 2050: climate neutrality). These visions will impact the developments of robotics, selective mining and mining ecosystem. The considered methods and tools, although innovative at this point, will be continuously assessed, and compared to new technology developments in the relevant fields. The ROBOMINERS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 820971. References. L. Lopes, B. Bodo, C. Rossi, S. Henley, G. Žibret, A. Kot-Niewiadomska, V. Correia, ROBOMINERS – Developing a bio-inspired modular robot-miner for difficult to access mineral deposits, Advances in Geosciences, Volume 54, 2020, 99–108
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inproceedings Reference A 1500 years-record of North Atlantic storminess from the Shetland Islands (UK) – preliminary insights
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inproceedings Reference Metagenomics of tsunami deposits: developments and challenges from a case study on the Shetland Islands (UK)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inproceedings Reference Structural framework as the new fundament for international geoscientific cooperation and policy support
The transition towards a clean and low carbon energy system in Europe will increasingly rely on the use of the subsurface. Communicating the potential and limitations of subsurface resources and applications remains challenging. This is partly because the subsurface is not part of the world people experience, leaving them without reference frame to understand impacts or consequences. A second element is that the geological context of a specific area is very abstract, three dimensional, and hence difficult to correctly and intuitively disclose using traditional geological maps or models. The GeoConnect³d project is finalising the development and testing of a new type of information system that can be used for various geo-applications, decision-making, and subsurface spatial planning. This is being accomplished through the innovative structural framework model, which reorganises, contextualises, and adds value to geological data. The model is primarily focused on geological limits, or broadly planar structures that separate a given geological unit from its neighbouring units. It also includes geomanifestations, highlighting any distinct local expression of ongoing or past geological processes. These manifestations, or anomalies, often point to specific geologic conditions and therefore can be important sources of information to improve geological understanding of an area and its subsurface (see Van Daele et al., this volume, Rombaut et al., this volume ). Geological information in this model is composed of spatial data at different scales, with a one-to-one link between geometries and their specific attributes (including uncertainties), and of semantic data, categorised conceptually and/or linked using generic SKOS hierarchical schemes. Concepts and geometries are linked by a one-to-many relationship. The combination of these elements subsequently results in a multi-scale, harmonised and robust model. In spite of its sound technical basis, consultation is highly intuitive. The underlying vocabulary is of high scientific standard and linked to INSPIRE and GeoSciML schemes, but can also automatically, both visually and semantically, be simplified to be understood by non-experts. The structural framework-geomanifestations methodology has now been applied to different areas in Europe. The focus on geological limits brings various advantages, such as displaying geological information in an explicit, and therefore more understandable way, and simplifying harmonisation efforts in large-scale geological structures crossing national borders originating from models of different scale and resolution. The link between spatial and semantic data is key in adding conceptual definitions and interpretations to geometries, and provides a very thorough consistency test for present-day regional understanding of geology. As a framework, other geological maps and models can be mapped to it by identifying common limits, such as faults, unconformities, etc, allowing to bring together non-harmonised maps in a meaningful way. The model demonstrates it is possible to gather existing geological data into a harmonised and robust knowledge system. We consider this as the way forward towards pan-European integration and harmonisation of geological information. Moreover, we identify the great potential of the structural framework model as a toolbox to communicate geosciences beyond our specialised community. Making geological information available to all stakeholders involved is an important step to support subsurface spatial planning to move forward towards a clean energy transition. . This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 731166.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inproceedings Reference Enhanced rock weathering: the overlooked hydrodynamic trap
Enhanced rock weathering (ERW) is a technique proposed to remove large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere (i.e. a negative emission technology) in which finely fragmented silicate rocks such as basalts (ground basalt) are distributed over agricultural or other land plots. The weathering process involves trapping CO2 but will also typically ameliorate soil properties (pH, soil moisture retention, cation exchange capacity, availability of Si), and can therefore be expected to positively affect plant and microbiological activity. This technique has been proposed in different modified forms over the past decades. In its current format, mainly its potential for near global application (e.g. Beerling et al. 2020) is stressed, and its acceptance is helped by the positive reception by e.g. nature organisations that already apply it as a technique for ecological restoration. Two main and largely separated processes result in trapping of CO2. The first is precipitation of carbonates, often as nodules, in the soil. The second is increased CO2 solubility in groundwater and eventually ocean water due to an increase of the pH value, referred to as the pH-trap. Most of the pH-trapping schemes are built on the assumption that CO2 is dissolved in infiltrating and shallow ground water, then discharged into surface water and consecutively transported to the seas and oceans. In that reservoir CO2 is expected to remain dissolved for centuries and possibly up to ten thousands of years, depending on surfacing times of deep oceanic currents. Another pathway that is systematically overlooked is that of groundwater fluxes that recharge deeper groundwater bodies. Depending on the regional geology, a significant fraction of infiltrating water will engage in deeper and long-term migration. For Belgium, the contribution of hydrodynamic trapping, depending on the hydrogeological setting, could be any part of the 15 to 25% of precipitation that infiltrates. Once infiltrating water enters these cycles, it will not come into contact with the atmosphere for possibly fifty thousand years. In this model, the long-term impact of ERW as a climate mitigation measure rests on a good understanding of the larger hydrogeological context, which encompasses infiltration and the deeper aquifers. Deep aquifers, as well as the migration paths towards them, are strictly isolated and residence times are much longer than for oceans. Recharge areas for deeper aquifer systems may therefore become preferential sites for ERW application, becoming an additional evaluation factor for siting ERW locations that is currently based on surface factors alone.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021