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Article Reference Investigating the co-occurrence of Neanderthals and modern humans in Belgium through direct radiocarbon dating of bone implements
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Past beaked whale diversity in the North Sea: reappraisal through a new Miocene record and biostratigraphic analyses
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Inproceedings Reference Using ancient DNA to identify Bos primigenius in ancient cattle remains from Belgium
Aurochs (Bos primigenius) are the wild ancestors of the domesticated taurine cattle (Bos taurus). During the Holocene, populations of aurochs gradually declined until their extinction at the turn of the 17th century. DNA data suggest that domestic cattle in Europe descended from Near East aurochs that were domesticated and brought to Europe by the first farmers during the Neolithic period. Hybridization occurred more recently in Europe between domestic cattle and local wild aurochs. Most aurochs can be distinguished from domestic cattle osteometrically, but large-sized domestic cattle may be misidentified as aurochs. Based on mitochondrial DNA, most European aurochs differ from domestic cattle (haplogroup “P” versus “T”). With the aim to provide new data on the former distribution of aurochs in Europe, we used mitochondrial DNA to identify large bovid bones attributed to aurochs and dating from Epipaleolithic to medieval times. DNA was extracted from the bones of 11 specimens from Belgium in an ancient DNA lab. Shotgun DNA sequencing provided raw reads comprising 0.02-10% of endogenous DNA. For three samples, reads covered 74-98% of the bovid mitochondrial genome and enabled the identification of one aurochs from the Bronze Age (haplogroup “P”) and two cows from Roman and medieval times (haplogroup “T”). Among the other samples (covering 2-18% of the mitogenome), three Roman specimens could be assigned to the haplogroup “T” based on a few diagnostic positions. This study provides the first mitogenomic data for a Belgian aurochs and contributes to the identification of exceptionally large Roman bovid remains.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference New data on the Devonian and Carboniferous Graptolithina (Dendroidea) from Belgium with notes on possible occurrences of Rhabdopleuridae in the Belgian Carboniferous
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference The fossil bivalve Angulus benedeni benedeni: a potential seasonally resolved stable isotope-based climate archive to investigate Pliocene temperatures in the southern North Sea basin
Bivalves record seasonal environmental changes in their shells, making them excellent climate archives. However, not every bivalve can be used for this end. The shells have to grow fast enough so that micrometre- to millimetre-sampling can resolve sub-annual changes. Here, we investigate whether the bivalve Angulus benedeni benedeni is suitable as a climate archive. For this, we use ca. 3-million-year-old specimens from the Piacenzian collected from a temporary outcrop in the Port of Antwerp area (Belgium). The subspecies is common in Pliocene North Sea basin deposits, but its lineage dates back to the late Oligocene and has therefore great potential as a high-resolution archive. A detailed assessment of the preservation of the shell material by micro-X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, and electron backscatter diffraction reveals that it is pristine and not affected by diagenetic processes. Oxygen isotope analysis and microscopy indicate that the species had a longevity of up to a decade or more and, importantly, that it grew fast and large enough so that seasonally resolved records across multiple years were obtainable from it. Clumped isotope analysis revealed a mean annual temperature of 13.5 ± 3.8 ∘C. The subspecies likely experienced slower growth during winter and thus may not have recorded temperatures year-round. This reconstructed mean annual temperature is 3.5 ∘C warmer than the pre-industrial North Sea and in line with proxy and modelling data for this stratigraphic interval, further solidifying A. benedeni benedeni's use as a climate recorder. Our exploratory study thus reveals that Angulus benedeni benedeni fossils are indeed excellent climate archives, holding the potential to provide insight into the seasonality of several major climate events of the past ∼ 25 million years in northwestern Europe.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference A Santonian record of the nautilid cephalopod Angulithes westphalicus (Schlüter, 1872) from the subsurface of the Campine, north-east Belgium, with comments on regional lithostratigraphic problems
Newly recognised material of the Late Cretaceous nautilid Angulithes westphalicus is described from the subsurface of the eastern part of the Campine in north-east Belgium. This constitutes the first formal documentation of this genus and species from the Cretaceous of Belgium, having been identified amongst a large suite of fossils collected from the Voort Shafts I & II of the Zolder colliery during the first half of the twentieth century. The specimens originate from an interval of marine calcareous sand with a marly glauconiferous base, dated as late middle Santonian (Gonioteuthis westfalicagranulata belemnite Zone) and for which a deepening of the depositional environment is documented. Lithostratigraphically, the specimens occur within the Vaals Formation, within the upper part of the Asdonk Member or alternatively within the lower part of the Sonnisheide Member. The early Campanian age of the Asdonk Member suggested previously is refuted, the age of the Sonnisheide Member needs further study. The position of the siphuncle in A. westphalicus is illustrated for the first time; it is positioned closer to the venter than the dorsum, which confirms the close evolutionary relationship with Angulithes galea, which ranges from the upper Turonian to middle Coniacian in central Europe.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference On the first Belgian record of the Eifelian (Middle Devonian) ammonoid cephalopod Subanarcestes (Suborder Anarcestina)
Ammonoid cephalopods are extremely rare in the Lower and Middle Devonian sedimentary rocks of Belgium, which contrasts with the neighboring sedimentary basins. However, searches in old collections and recent collecting efforts show that ammonoids do occur in these beds in Belgium, which allows to enlarge our knowledge of Lower and Middle Devonian ammonoid occurrences. Here, a record of the Eifelian (Middle Devonian) anarcestid ammonoid genus Subanarcestes is described for the first time from Belgium based on a specimen from the Jemelle Formation (Chavées Member). This specimen was collected more than a century ago by Eugène Maillieux at Trou Bodet near Couvin. It laid unrecognized as an ammonoid cephalopod for many decades in the collections of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, while being previously identified as Cryptoceras or ‘Nautilus’ fossil, which if correct, constituted Belgium’s oldest Nautilida fossil. Micro-CT imaging greatly helped in the taxonomic assignment of the specimen.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Craniodental ecomorphology of the large Jurassic ichthyosaurian Temnodontosaurus
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Ultraconserved elements-based phylogenomic systematics of the snake superfamily Elapoidea, with the description of a new Afro-Asian family
The highly diverse snake superfamily Elapoidea is considered to be a classic example of ancient, rapid radiation. Such radiations are challenging to fully resolve phylogenetically, with the highly diverse Elapoidea a case in point. Previous attempts at inferring a phylogeny of elapoids produced highly incongruent estimates of their evolutionary relationships, often with very low statistical support. We sought to resolve this situation by sequencing over 4,500 ultraconserved element loci from multiple representatives of every elapoid family/subfamily level taxon and inferring their phylogenetic relationships with multiple methods. Concatenation and multispecies coalescent based species trees yielded largely congruent and well-supported topologies. Hypotheses of a hard polytomy were not retained for any deep branches. Our phylogenies recovered Cyclocoridae and Elapidae as diverging early within Elapoidea. The Afro-Malagasy radiation of elapoid snakes, classified as multiple subfamilies of an inclusive Lamprophiidae by some earlier authors, was found to be monophyletic in all analyses. The genus Micrelaps was consistently recovered as sister to Lamprophiidae. We establish a new family, Micrelapidae fam. nov., for Micrelaps and assign Brachyophis to this family based on cranial osteological synapomorphy. We estimate that Elapoidea originated in the early Eocene and rapidly diversified into all the major lineages during this epoch. Ecological opportunities presented by the post-Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction event may have promoted the explosive radiation of elapoid snakes.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Plant-insect interactions in the Selandian (Early Paleocene) Gelinden Fossil Flora (Belgium) and what they mean for the ecosystems after the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction
This study aims to quantify the intensity and diversity of plant-insect associations observed in the fossil assemblage of Gelinden, Limburg, Belgium. The site yields a rich collection of well-preserved plant remains, mainly leaves, from a Paleocene European temperate forest. The 780 specimens presented here were scanned using standardized morphotype systems for any trace of damage. This raw data was then used to quantify the intensity and diversity of interactions in the Gelinden flora. This material showed an impressive richness of interactions, contrasting with the poor North American sites covering the period that followed the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction. Both hosts and interaction types observed at Gelinden are two to three times more abundant than in most American floras, in raw numbers and leaf area affected. This is coherent with what has been observed in the few other studies conducted in Europe, South America and Antarctica, pointing toward more regionalized effects of the extinction than previously assumed based on American findings. This greater richness implies that these sites were either less affected or quicker to recover from the Cretaceous/Paleogene extinction, questioning its global impact, at least on the lower levels of the food web, as discussed in the following paper.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023