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Article Reference A historical ecology of the Ecrins (Southern French Alps): Archaeology and palaeoecology of the Mesolithic to the Medieval period
This paper elucidates the nature of human–environment interactions in a mountainous landscape (the southern zone of the Ecrins, French Alps) from the Mesolithic through to the Post-Medieval Period. We present an integrated programme of palynology, pedo- and archaeo-anthracology, and archaeology. These data permit the development of a historical ecology that allows us to differentiate between climatic and anthropogenic influences on vegetation, and the development of anthropogenic landscapes in an Alpine region. This study is of profound relevance for the broader understanding of human–environment interactions in ecologically sensitive environments both within the Alpine arc, but also beyond this region. We identify and explain evidence for possible human landscape management practices in a high altitude landscape. Palynology defines the broad floral context and evolution of the environment through the Holocene. Palynology also permits an assessment of human activities and practices (arable agriculture, pastoralism and haymaking). The combination of these data with anthracological and archaeological evidence permits a nuanced assessment of human interaction with the landscape. We consider phases of anthropological–ecological succession across the range of altitudes, from valley-bottom to the alpine zones in the Ecrins National Park. Four important stages of landscape use and change have been inferred from our evidence: the Mesolithic, the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman, and (Post)Medieval. During the Mesolithic (c. 8000–4500 BC), a major event is the expansion of fir in the montane stage. At higher altitudes, people exploit the ecotone, defined by the forest edge (or tree-line): an ideal zone for hunting. The Neolithic sees low-altitude clearances, but a continuation of hunting and low levels of human impact on high-altitude vegetation. The Chalcolithic/Bronze Age (2400–1000 BC) sees complex interplay of climatic changes, and the appearance of direct human intervention in the high altitude landscape as part of a new transhumant system. Although the Roman Period is characterised by phases of climatic amelioration after the deterioration of the Iron Age, the increase in human activity that is usually seen in low-lying areas is not reflected in the sub-alpine and alpine altitudes. The Medieval Period, including the Little Ice Age, witnesses a steady increase in human use of these landscapes, with forest manipulation and clearance becoming the defining characteristics of these areas. Despite the supposed inclement nature of the Little Ice Age, human activity achieves its zenith, and the combination people and climate produces the most open and managed landscape of the Holocene.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A horny pycnodont fish (Pycnodontiformes) in the continental Middle Jurassic (Stanleyville Formation) of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Article Reference A Jurassic avialan dinosaur from China resolves the early phylogenetic history of birds
The recent discovery of small paravian theropod dinosaurs with well-preserved feathers in the Middle–Late Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning Province (northeastern China)1–4 has challenged the pivotal position of Archaeopteryx3,4, regarded from its discovery to be the most basal bird. Removing Archaeopteryx from the base of Avialae to nest within Deinonychosauria implies that typical bird flight, powered by the forelimbs only, either evolved at least twice, or was subsequently lost or modified in some deinonychosaurians3,5. Here we describe the complete skeleton of a new paravian from the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning Province, China. Including this new taxon in a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis for basal Paraves does the following: (1) it recovers it as the basal-most avialan; (2) it confirms the avialan status of Archaeopteryx; (3) it places Troodontidae as the sistergroup to Avialae; (4) it supports a single origin of powered flight within Paraves; and (5) it implies that the early diversification of Paraves and Avialae took place in the Middle–Late Jurassic period.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales
Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous deposits from northeastern China have yielded varied theropod dinosaurs bearing feathers. Filamentous integumentary structures have also been described in ornithischian dinosaurs, but whether these filaments can be regarded as part of the evolutionary lineage toward feathers remains controversial. Here we describe a new basal neornithischian dinosaur from the Jurassic of Siberia with small scales around the distal hindlimb, larger imbricated scales around the tail, monofilaments around the head and the thorax, and more complex featherlike structures around the humerus, the femur, and the tibia.The discovery of these branched integumentary structures outside theropods suggests that featherlike structures coexisted with scales and were potentially widespread among the entire dinosaur clade; feathers may thus have been present in the earliest dinosaurs.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A juvenile skull from the early Palaeocene of China extends the appearance of crocodyloids in Asia back by 15–20 million years
The earliest Crocodylia from Asia have been represented so far only by alligatoroids and planocraniids. Although definitive crocodyloids are not known until the late Eocene, it has been hypothesized that Asiatosuchus-like basal crocodyloids originated in Asia before the late Palaeocene. In this paper, we describe a new fossil crocodyloid from the lower Palaeocene of Qianshan Basin, Anhui Province, China. The skull and lower jaw fragment exhibit several characteristics typical of juvenile crocodylians. They also display a combination of features not seen in any other taxon, warranting the erection of a new species and genus, Qianshanosuchus youngi gen. & sp. nov. Its affinities are tested in phylogenetic analyses based on two recent character matrices of Eusuchia. To assess the effect of juvenile characteristics on the outcome of the phylogenetic analyses, juvenile specimens of extant crocodylian taxa are analysed in the same way, showing that the effect of their ontogenetic stage on their placement in the tree is minimal. Our analyses point to a basal crocodyloid position for Q. youngi. With these findings, the presence of Crocodyloidea in Asia is extended to the early Palaeocene, 15–20 Myr earlier than formerly thought. Furthermore, our results corroborate previous hypotheses of a Palaeocene dispersal route of Asiatosuchus-like crocodyloids from Asia into Europe.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 OA
Article Reference A Karethraichnus boring on a turtle shell bone from the Miocene of Italy is assessed as the attachment scar of a platylepadid symbiont
Among the turtle and whale barnacles, those included in the family Platylepadidae are mostly found partly embedded in the carapace and plastron of sea turtles. As a likely consequence of their fragile shell, the fossil record of these cirripede epizoans of marine chelonians is currently limited to two occurrences of Platylepas in Pleistocene strata. Here, we describe and refer to Karethraichnus cf. lakkos an isolated boring on a fossil cheloniid costal plate from the upper Miocene Arenaria di Ponsano Formation of Tuscany (central Italy). A scrutiny of palaeontological and neontological literature as well as new first-hand observations reveal that this boring was most likely produced by a platylepadid barnacle similar to Stomatolepas, Stephanolepas or Platylepas. Two other probable platylepadid attachment scars, both of which incise cheloniid shell bones, are noted from the Oligocene and Miocene, respectively. On the whole, these scanty data support the hypothesis that platylepadids have ancient evolutionary roots and a long story of symbiosis with sea turtles. Future research efforts in this field should focus on 1) further investigating the potential of bone damage of turtle-dwelling barnacles; 2) initiating a methodical quest for possible platylepadid attachment scars in Cenozoic marine turtle fossils; and 3) replenishing the still fragmentary Palaeogene fossil record of Coronuloidea.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference A land micro-mammal fauna from the Early Eocene marine Egem deposits (NP12, Belgium) and the first occurrence of the peradectid marsupial Armintodelphys outside North America
Dental remains of land mammals are sometimes discovered in shallow marine Paleogene deposits of the North Sea Basin. Such is the case for eleven specimens we describe here from the Early Eocene Egemkapel Clay Member in the middle part of the Tielt Formation, found in Ampe quarry at Egem in Northwestern Belgium. The small fauna consists of 6 taxa, including the neoplagiaulacid multituberculate Ectypodus, the erinaceomorph insectivore Macrocranion, the nyctitheriid Leptacodon, an eochiropteran bat possibly belonging to a palaeochiropterygid, an unidentified perissodactyl possibly belonging to an equoid, and a new species of the peradectid marsupial Armintodelphys. The latter represents the first European occurrence of the genus, which was previously only known from the North American late Early and early Middle Eocene of the Wind River and Green River basins in Wyoming and the Uinta Basin in Utah. Biogeographic and biostratigraphic analyses of peradectid marsupials suggest that Armintodelphys dispersed between North America and Europe around the time of the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum. The Egemkapel Clay Member has been dated as middle NP12, early late Ypresian, whereas the Egem mammal fauna can be correlated to the fauna of Avenay from the Paris Basin, which is the international reference-level MP8+9 of the mammalian biochronological scale for the European Paleogene.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A land snail's view of a fragmented landscape
Habitat fragmentation may influence the genetic structure of populations, especially of species with low mobility. So far, these effects have been mainly studied by surveying neutral markers, and much less by looking at ecologically relevant characters. Therefore, we aimed to explore eventual patterns of covariation between population structuring in neutral markers and variation in shell morphometrics in the forest-associated snail Discus rotundatus in relation to habitat fragment characteristics. To this end, we screened shell morphometric variability and sequence variation in a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rDNA gene in D. rotundatus from the fragmented landscape of the Lower Rhine Embayment, Germany. The 16S rDNA of D. rotundatus was highly variable, with a total of 118 haplotypes (384 individuals) forming four clades and one unresolved group. There was a geographic pattern in the distribution of the clades with the river Rhine apparently separating two groups. Yet, at the geographic scale considered, there was no obvious effect of fragmentation on shell morphometrics and 16S rDNA variation because G(ST) often was as high within, as between forests. Instead, the age of the habitat and (re-)afforestation events appeared to affect shell shape and 16S rDNA in terms of the number of clades per site. The ecologically relevant characters thus supported the presumably neutral mitochondrial DNA markers by indicating that populations of not strictly stenecious species may be (relatively) stable in fragments. However, afforestation after large clearcuts and habitat gain after the amendment of deforestation are accompanied by several, seemingly persistent peculiarities, such as altered genetic composition and shell characters (e.g. aperture size). (C) 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 98, 839-850.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A large Late Miocene cetotheriid (Cetacea, Mysticeti) from the Netherlands clarifies the status of Tranatocetidae
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Article Reference A large meteoritic event over Antarctica ca. 430 ka ago inferred from chondritic spherules from the Sør Rondane Mountains
Large airbursts, the most frequent hazardous impact events, are estimated to occur orders of magnitude more frequently than crater-forming impacts. However, finding traces of these events is impeded by the difficulty of identifying them in the recent geological record. Here, we describe condensation spherules found on top of Walnumfjellet in the Sør Rondane Mountains, Antarctica. Affinities with similar spherules found in EPICA Dome C and Dome Fuji ice cores suggest that these particles were produced during a single-asteroid impact ca. 430 thousand years (ka) ago. The lack of a confirmed crater on the Antarctic ice sheet and geochemical and 18O-poor oxygen isotope signatures allow us to hypothesize that the impact particles result from a touchdown event, in which a projectile vapor jet interacts with the Antarctic ice sheet. Numerical models support a touchdown scenario. This study has implications for the identification and inventory of large cosmic events on Earth.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021