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The most recent publications from the department

Schematisk bild över hur svamphyfer, sporer och biofilm lever i sprickor, hålor och gångar i djupbergarter.

Paleontology is based on fossils found in sedimentary rocks. Research at the Swedish Museum of Natural History has during the last decade shown that fossils also are found in igneous rock. Such fossils are the fossil record of the deep biosphere. The deep biosphere is today the second largest reservoir of live biomass and prior to plants colonized land the deep biosphere was the largest reservoir of live biomass. This suggests that the deep biosphere played an unrecognized role in the evolution of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Here, we review the current knowledge of the fossil record of igneous rock, and show that this area of research needs more attention and research in the future for us to fully understand the early development of life.

Ivarsson, M., Drake, H., Neubeck, A., Sallstedt, T., Bengtson, S., Roberts, N.M.W & Rasmussen, B. 2020. The fossil record of igneous rock. Earth Science Reviews, 210, 103342external link.

Remarkably preserved hyolithids with helens and interior soft tissues are reported from the Guanshan Biota (Cambrian, Stage 4) of Shijiangjun section, in Yunnan Province of South China. Extraordinary soft parts preserved in these hyolithids include muscle scars and digestive tracts. Three types of soft part preservation modes are described from the collection: (1) preservation through pyritization, (2) sediment-infilling of guts, and (3) bacterial biofilm pseudomorphs, resulting from endogenous bacterial decay. By comparison with younger hyolithid specimens, the newly collected materials indicate that the gut anatomy of hyolithids was evolutionarily conservative from the early Cambrian through to at least the Ordovician.

Liu, F., Skovsted, C.B., Topper, T.P., & Zhang, Z.-F., 2021. Soft part preservation in hyolithids from the lower Cambrian (Stage 4) Guanshan Biota of South China and its implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.110079external link

From the south polar forests of the mid-Cretaceous (95 million years ago) to the subtropical seas of the Pliocene (4 million years ago), the fossils of the windswept Chatham Islands reveal vivid panoramas of our changing world, and the plants and animals that have inhabited it. The history of fossil exploration on the islands is presented, from the first scientific expeditions of the mid-1800’s to the cutting-edge and profound scientific discoveries of the present. Finally, the book provides an up-to-date overview of the conservation efforts to save some of the world’s rarest animals and plants on this remote volcanic archipelago.

Stilwell, J.D., Mays, C., 2020. Lost World of Rēkohu: Ancient ‘Zealandian’ Animals and Plants of the Remote Chatham Islands. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 293 pp.

The Permian–Triassic was an interval of nearly 100 million years (299–201 Ma), and included five global mass extinction events, including the largest of all time: the end-Permian event (252.2 Ma). We outline the abundance and distribution changes that these extinction events had on freshwater algae. We identified a distinct province of freshwater algae that stretched across much of Gondwana for most of the Permian, but came to an end at the end-Permian event, along with collapse of the wetland forest biome. Finally, we lay the groundwork for interpreting specific environmental changes from algal abundances, particularly during extinction events.

Mays, C., Vajda, V., McLoughlin, S., 2021. Permian–Triassic non-marine algae of Gondwana—distributions, natural affinities and ecological implications. Earth-Science Reviews. 29 pp. doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2020.103382

We describe a new orthothecid hyolith from the early Cambrian of North China (ca 515 million years ago). The new species, Longxiantheca mira, represent one of the most primitive orthothecids known and has a straight cone-shaped shell and a simple disc-like operculum. However, the new specimens preserve imprints of the soft anatomy of the animal and the microscopic structure of the shell. The new finds show that all hyoliths are closely comparable in their soft body anatomy and that the shell of the earliest hyoliths is closely comparable with that of early molluscs, indicating that the groups are closely related.

Li, L., Skovsted, C.B., Yun, H., Betts, M.J. & Zhang, X. 2020. New insight into the soft anatomy and shell microstructures of early Cambrian orthothecids (Hyolitha). Proceedings of the Royal Society B 287: 20201467external link