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Manual Reference Paleontologie
De wetenschappelijke uitstraling van de afdelingen 10, 11 en 12 is door het grote aantal wetenschappelijke publicaties, vooral deze met hoge ranking (bv. Nature en Science), en door de sterke vertegenwoordiging op internationale congressen en de talrijke mandaten in internationale verenigingen vergelijkbaar met deze van de betere wetenschappelijke instellingen en universiteiten van België. De wetenschappelijke expertise van de afdelingen geniet mondiale erkenning, te oordelen naar het grote aantal aanvragen voor supervisie van doctoraats‐en mastersthesissen en voor deelname aan nationale en internationale jury’s voor de beoordeling ervan (in totaal 35 in 2011) en voor de review van manuscripten voor wetenschappelijke tijdschriften (31) en van buitenlandse wetenschappelijke projecten (4). In 2011 waren er wetenschappelijke samenwerkingsverbanden met 18 Belgische en 155 buitenlandese instellingen, het merendeel (85 %) binnen Europa. De belangstelling bij het publiek en de media voor de paleontologie als onderzoeksrichting was ook in 2011 heel sterk, zoals bleek uit de talrijke interviews in dagbladen, deelname aan radio‐ en TV‐programma’s en de toenemende vraag naar stagebegeleiding, determinatie van fossielen en voordrachten voor binnen‐ en buitenlandse verenigingen. Talrijke jongeren manifesteerden hun belangstelling voor de paleontologie als toekomstkeuze, wat als een zeer verheugende evolutie kan aanzien worden. De opgravingen in de klassieke gebieden konden worden verdergezet (Vastan, Indië, Liaoling – China, Peru en de Europese regio), waarbij een aantal nieuwe regio’s werden gescreend (Centraal‐ en Oost‐Europa, Centraal‐ en Noord‐Sulawesi, Indonesië en de Qianshan regio in de Provincie Anhui, China). Het stratigrafisch onderzoek van de Devoon sequenties in België, de Paleogene sequenties in Zuid‐Frankrijk, Noord‐Afrika en Kazakhstan, de Quartaire loessequenties in Eurazië en karstfenomenen in België, alsook de traditionele paleontologische thema’s (studie van dinosauriërs, ichthyosauriërs, koralen, vissen, brachiopoden, otolieten, Paleogene en Quartaire zoogdieren, Neogene walvissen) werden voortgezet. Het paleontologisch onderzoek kon ook rekenen op belangrijke extra‐financiële middelen, waaronder een aantal buitenlandse bronnen. Een doctoraatsstudent en vier masterstudenten beëindigden hun eindwerk in samenwerking met het departement Paleontologie. Elf doctorandi en 8 Masterstudenten specialiseren zich verder in 2011 onder begeleiding van de wetenschappers van het departement in verschillende domeinen van de paleontologie: micropaleontologie, invertebraten en vertebraten. De meerderheid van de medewerkers van het departement was in 2011 intensief betrokken bij de verdere reorganisatie van de Janletzaal en de Kloosterzaal en de updating van de paleontologische collecties van het KBIN met als belangrijkste activiteiten: (1) de voorbereidingen aan de nieuw in te richten mosasauriërzaal, (2) de medewerking aan de tentoonstelling “From Brussels Xiè Xiè Shanghai” te Tour & Taxis te Brussel en aan de tentoonstelling “Du Mammouth à l’agriculture – l’Homme préhistorique dans son environnement” aan de Faculté Polytechnique de Mons, (3), de medewerking aan de Opendeurdag “Dinos News Day”aan het KBIN, (4) talrijke rondleidingen voor binnen‐ en buitenlandse groepen en delegaties, (5) de studie van de paleontologische collecties van het KBIN en (6) de verderzetting van de inventarisatie en de digitalisatie van de paleontologische collectie. Sinds 2003 is de bezettingsgraad van de statutaire wetenschappers gehalveerd (daling met 5 voltijdse mandaten: 5.00 i.p.v. 10.00, ‐6 versus +1), waardoor er in afdeling 10, vanaf oktober 2008, nog slechts 1, en in afdeling 11, reeds sinds 2006, zelfs geen enkele statutaire wetenschapper meer huist. Deze negatieve trend zal zich in de komende jaren verder blijven doorzetten met de opruststelling in 2012 van een voltijdse wetenschapper (J.‐G. CASIER), waardoor afdeling 10 dan ook alle statutaire wetenschappers verliest. Vooral het technisch personeelsbestand zal flink uitgedund worden (2 voltijdse betrekkingen). Niettegenstaande deze drastische daling in het personeelsbestand en het feit dat het takenpakket stelselmatig werd uitgebreid door de talrijke renovatie‐ en restauratiewerken, is de wetenschappelijke output gelijk gebleven, wat wijst op een sterke inzet van het personeel. Met deze sterk afgezwakte personeelsbezetting zal het in de nabije toekomst echter niet meer mogelijk zijn om het ons toevertrouwde takenpakket integraal uit te voeren. Nieuwe aanwervingen dringen zich op (tenminste 1 statutaire wetenschapper voor elke afdeling, en 2 statutaire technici voor de 3 afdelingen) indien we onze wetenschappelijke reputatie en het beheer van één van de grootste collecties van het instituut voor de toekomst veilig willen stellen. De finalisatie van de recruteringsprocedure voor de aanwerving van 1 statutaire technicus in het voorjaar van 2009 was een eerste stap in de goede richting.
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Article Reference Intra- and Intertaxon stable O and C isotope variability of fossil fish otoliths: an early Eocene test case
Knowledge of basic data variability is essential for the interpretation of any proxy-based paleotemperature record. To evaluate this for δ18O stable isotope paleothermometry based on early Paleogene fish otoliths from marginal marine environments, an intra- and interspecific stable O and C isotope study was performed at a single locality in the southern North Sea Basin (Ampe Quarry, Egem, Belgium), where shallow marine sands and silts are exposed. The age of the deposits is early late Ypresian (ca. 50.9 Ma) and falls within the early Eocene climatic optimum (EECO) interval. In each of four fossiliferous levels sampled, the same three otolith species were analyzed (Platycephalus janeti, Paraconger papointi and “genus Neobythitinorum” subregularis). Intrataxon stable isotope spread amounts on average 2.50-3.00‰ for all taxa and is present in all levels. This implies that each sample level comprises substantial variability, which can be attributed to a combination of temporal and taphonomic effects. More importantly, intertaxon offsets of 4.60‰ in δ13C and 2.20‰ in δ18O between the mean values of the three otolith species are found, with “N.” subregularis representing more positive values relative to the other species. We hypothesize that freshwater influence of coastal waters is the most likely cause for these discrepancies. Similar analyses on two coastal bivalve species (Venericardia sulcata and Callista laevigata) corroborate this hypothesis. Accordingly, δ18O values measured on “N.” subregularis otoliths probably represent a more open oce- anic signal, and therefore seem well-suited for δ18O stable isotope paleothermometry. This study highlights the importance of investigating data variability of a biogenic carbonate paleotemperature proxy at the species level, before applying paleotemperature equations and interpreting the outcome.
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Article Reference Biotic impact of Eocene thermal maximum 2 in a shelf setting (Dababiya, Egypt).
The Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) initiated a global biotic event with major evolutionary impacts. Since a series of minor δ13C and δ18O excursions, indicative of hyperthermals, now appears to characterize early Eocene climate, it remains to be investigated how the biosphere responded to these warming events. We studied the Esna Formation at Dababiya (Nile Basin, Egypt), in order to identify Eocene thermal maximum 2 (ETM-2) and to evaluate the foraminiferal and ostracode patterns. The studied interval generally consists of gray-brown marls and shales and is interrupted by a sequence of deviating lithologies, representing an early Eocene Egyptian environmental perturbation that can be linked to ETM-2. The ETM-2 interval consists of brownish shales (bed 1) to marls (bed 2) at the base that grade into a foraminifera-rich chalky limestone (bed 3) at the top. This conspicuous white limestone bed forms the base of the Abu Had Member. A distinct negative δ13C excursion of approximately 1.6‰ is recorded encom- passing this interval and a second negative δ13C shift of 1‰ occurs 5 m higher. These two isotope events are situated respectively in the basal and lower part of the calcareous nannoplankton zone NP11 and appear to correlate with the H1 and H2(?) excursions observed in the deep-sea records. The lower δ13C excursion is associated with benthic foraminiferal and ostracode changes and settlement of impoverished anomalous foraminiferal (planktic and benthic) assemblages, indicating a transient environmental anomaly, disrupting the entire marine ecosystem during ETM-2. Our observations indicate some similarities between the sedimentary and biotic expressions of ETM-2 and the PETM at Dababiya, pointing to similar processes operating in the Egyptian Basin during these global warming events.
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Article Reference Characterization of the Latest Danian Event by means of benthic foraminiferal assemblages along a depth transect at the southern Tethyan margin (Nile Basin, Egypt).
The Latest Danian Event (LDE) has been recognized on the southern Tethyan margin (Egypt; Tunisia), and in the Atlantic (Zumaia, Spain) and Pacific Oceans (ODP Site 1209). Based on a supraregional carbon isotope excursion, and a negative shift in oxygen isotopes in the Pacific it has been suggested that the LDE is an early Paleogene transient warming event. So far the environmental effects of the LDE have been observed in few sections and details on its impact and duration are scarce. We present a quantitative study of benthic foraminiferal assemblages retrieved from five sections along a depth transect on the Paleocene southern Tethyan shelf (Nile Basin, Egypt) to assess paleoenvironmental change during the LDE. The lithologic sequences and foraminiferal assemblages indicate that the onset of the LDE is related to widespread shelf dysoxia. The organic-rich laminated marls of lower LDE bed I contain levels devoid of benthic foraminifera. During the later stage of the LDE (dark-gray shales of bed II) the shelf is repopulated by a Neoeponides duwi benthic assemblage, occurring in all sections, initiating a gradual restoration of normal-marine shelf environments. Q-mode and R-mode correspondence analysis assist in the interpretation of the N. duwi assemblage, which is related to disturbed conditions at the sea floor following oxygen depletion and increased organic loading. The sharp lithologic boundary at the base of the LDE suggests that the event coincides with a rapid transgression following a sea-level fall, with an estimated amplitude of ~ 50 m or less. Comparison with the Dan-C2 and ELPE/MPBE, two proposed transient warming episodes preceding and postdating the LDE, shows that the three Paleocene events have several characteristics in common. However, the duration of the LDE (~ 200 kyr) exceeds the estimated duration of the other events, and a sea-level cycle is only reported from the LDE.
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Article Reference Perturbation of a coastal Tethyan environment during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum in Tunisia (Sidi Nasseur and Wadi Mezaz).
Despite the large number of studies on the Paleocene–Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), the knowledge of environmental and biotic responses in shallow marine environments remains quite poor. Benthic foraminiferal assemblages of the Sidi Nasseur and Wadi Mezaz sections in Tunisia were studied quantitatively and the paleoecologic interpretations provide new insights into the complex relationship between PETM global warming and perturbations of shallow marine settings. These sections expose upper Paleocene to lower Eocene shales and marls of the El Haria Formation up to the phosphate layers of the Chouabine Formation underlying the El Garia limestones. The Sidi Nasseur section contains a more complete and expanded Paleocene–Eocene boundary interval compared to Wadi Mezaz, although being truncated at the top. The Wadi Mezaz section contains a more complete post-PETM interval. The studied interval can be subdivided into a sequence of 4 biofacies, representing respectively a latest Paleocene biofacies, two PETM biofacies and one post-PETM Eocene biofacies. The latest Paleocene biofacies 1 consists of numerous calcareous benthic foraminifera (e.g. Anomalinoides midwayensis, Frondicularia aff. phosphatica and various Bulimina and Lenticulina species), abundant noncalcareous taxa (Haplophragmoides) and rare planktic foraminifera, indicating a slightly hypersaline eutrophic inner neritic to coastal environment, regularly interrupted by oxygen deficiency (moderate dysoxia). During the latest Paleocene, this highly productive environment shallowed as indicated by the increasing abundances of A. midwayensis. The variable dominance of non-calcareous agglutinated taxa in biofacies 1 indicates post-mortem dissolution effects. The TOC δ13Corg record reveals a sharp negative excursion, marking the base of the Eocene. In general, the absence of lithologic changes, an increasing sedimentation rate and absence of reworking indicate that the initial part of the PETM is complete and expanded in the Sidi Nasseur section. A sharp faunal turnover coincides with this negative δ13Corg excursion and is characterized by the disappearance or diminution of common Paleocene taxa in this area. During the PETM, benthic foraminifera are less abundant and consist of opportunistic non-calcareous taxa together with deeper dwelling (middle neritic) lagenids and buliminids (biofacies 2 and 3). Planktic foraminifera, dominated by flat-spired Acarinina (mainly A. multicamerata), become more abundant, as observed in many open marine sequences worldwide. All these faunal parameters suggest more stressed probably severe dysoxic sea floor conditions within a transgressive phase during the onset of the PETM. An estimation of the total duration of the Sidi Nasseur PETM interval is difficult to establish, yet the lack of recovery carbon isotope values suggests that the preserved PETM interval reflects only a part of the CIE “core”. The top of the PETM interval is truncated due to local (?) erosion during the early Eocene. The Eocene recovery fauna is mainly composed of Lenticulina and Stainforthia species (biofacies 4), indicating restricted coastal to hyposaline lagoonal eutrophic conditions, distinctly different from earlier environmental conditions.
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Article Reference Were all Devonian seeds cupulate? A reinvestigation of Pseudosporogonites Hallei, Xenotheca Bertrandii and Aglosperma spp.
Premise of research. Although the most comprehensively known Devonian seeds were borne in a “telomic” cupule, those of some species have been postulated as being borne terminally on naked axes lacking a cupule. Uncertainty remains as to whether such seeds were shed from a cupule before preservation. We reinvestigate the Upper Devonian fossils Pseudosporogonites hallei and Xenotheca bertrandii from Belgium and the similar ovules Aglosperma quadrapartita and Aglosperma avonensis from Britain and Aglosperma sp. from North America to consider their structure and organization and to determine whether they were cupulate. Methodology. Compressions/adpressions of X. bertrandii and Pseudosporogonites from Belgium and A. quadrapartita and A. avonensis from the United Kingdom, as well as Anglosperma sp. from Pennsylvania, were prepared, mainly by dégagement. Observation and photography were carried out using crossed polarizing filters. Pivotal results. Pseudosporogonites hallei, X. bertrandii, and A. quadrapartita comprise single ovules borne within small, radially symmetrical, uniovulate cupules. Integuments are entire at the chalaza but form flattened lobes distally. While a cupule is unknown in A. avonensis, its comparable integument morphology suggests that it was shed from a uniovulate cupule. Although the species are distinct from each other, their similarities show that they are closely related and belong to a single genus, for which the name Pseudosporogonites has priority. We emend P. hallei in light of our findings and erect the combinations P. bertrandii (Stockmans) C. Prestianni, J. Hilton et W. Cressler, P. quadrapartitus (J. Hilton et D. Edwards) C. Prestianni, J. Hilton et W. Cressler, and P. avonensis (J. Hilton) C. Prestianni, J. Hilton et W. Cressler. Conclusions. The uniovulate cupule in Pseudosporogonites is distinct from multiovulate telomic cupules of other Devonian seeds and expands the phenotypic diversity seen during the earliest phase of seed plant radiation, which was geologically instantaneous. Hydrasperman pollination in all proven Devonian seeds demonstrates evolution from a common ancestor, but finding morphological intermediates between seed and free-sporing plants remains a significant challenge to evolutionary plant biology.
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Article Reference Garrouste et al. reply to Hörnschemeyer et al.
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Article Reference Possible evidence of mammoth hunting at the Neanderthal site of Spy (Belgium)
Spy, a Belgian cave site famous for its Neanderthal remains, contains a wide spectrum of Pleistocene species. Horse, cave hyena, woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and reindeer are the primary taxa. The Spy cave was used alternately by prehistoric humans and Pleistocene carnivores. This study considers whether prehistoric humans or carnivores are responsible for the large number of mammoth remains at the site. It is argued, on the basis of the frequency distribution of the skeletal elements of the mammoth, the age distribution of the mammoth molars, and the diet of the large carnivores and of the prehistoric humans, that the mammoth assemblage of Spy accumulated at the site through the activities of prehistoric humans. On the basis of AMS dates, the stratigraphic position of a number of mammoth molars and the absence of red ochre on the mammoth molars, it was concluded that these prehistoric humans were Neanderthals rather than Anatomically Modern Humans.
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Proceedings Reference New data from and old site : Neandertals at Goyet (Belgium) and their mortuary behavior
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Article Reference Applicability of DNA barcoding to museum specimens of birds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The ornithological collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels contain approximately 155 000 specimens collected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) . They include type specimens and other samples from historical populations that represent an exceptional source of information for exploring how habitat fragmentation due to deforestation or global climate changes affect patterns of biodiversity in African birds . By attempting to obtain DNA sequences from these archive collections we intend to make them useful for genetic studies and to contribute to a reference library of DNA sequences, thus allowing the future iden- tification of Central African bird species through DNA barcodes . Our project aims to sequence approximately 950 mu- seum specimens, representing 225 species, collected between 1845 and 2008 . Our preliminary results reveal that the degradation of DNA in most museum specimens does not allow the amplification of the standard DNA barcode fragment (694 bp) . Nevertheless, we have been able to sequence shorter fragments (298 bp and 100 bp) for the majority of the selected specimens, implying that the collections in the RMCA and the RBINS contain DNA information that remains useful for barcoding purposes . More elaborate experiments might yield longer DNA sequences for phylogenetic and phylogeographic studies .
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