Recent Research on Palaeontology

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Paleontology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 57146

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, Novosibirsk 630091, Russia
Interests: paleoentomology; evolution; phylogeny; systematics; paleobiogeography; paleoenvironment; Mesozoic and Cenozoic insects; quaternary study
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Palaeontology is a rapidly developing science that allows us to understand the evolution of life on our planet. Every year the number of paleontological finds increases in nature, and the museum collections collected earlier are being studied. New fossil localities are being discovered, and work is underway on well-known but usually insufficiently explored ones. New approaches make it possible to obtain much more diverse fossil samples. New methods of studying them, such as X-ray tomography, for example, make it possible to see previously unknown details of the structure of extinct organisms. All this brings paleontological research to a new level. With new data, we can improve our knowledge of the evolution, phylogeny, taxonomy, ecology, and distribution of fossil organisms. An integrated approach involving various groups of fossil organisms and methods for their study allows solving challenging questions of palaeodiversity development.

I invite palaeontologists dealing with the abovementioned problems to submit their manuscripts to this Special Issue, which will focus on phylogeny, palaeoenvironment, climate reconstruction, palaeobiogeography, taxonomy, biostratigraphy and fossil history, as well as the use of modern approaches that provide new knowledge in the field of palaeodiversity.

Dr. Andrei Legalov
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • fossil history
  • phylogeny
  • palaeoenvironment
  • climate reconstruction
  • palaeobiogeography
  • new taxa

Published Papers (18 papers)

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15 pages, 748 KiB  
Article
Silurian Climatic Zonation of Cryptospore, Trilete Spore and Plant Megafossils, with Emphasis on the Přídolí Epoch
by Jiří Bek, Philippe Steemans, Jiří Frýda and Viktor Žárský
Life 2024, 14(2), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020258 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 586
Abstract
This paper describes dispersed cryptospores and trilete spores from tropical, temperate and cool climate belts within Přídolí and compares them with the land plant megafossil record. The palynology of earlier intervals in the Silurian are also reviewed. A common feature of the cryptospore [...] Read more.
This paper describes dispersed cryptospores and trilete spores from tropical, temperate and cool climate belts within Přídolí and compares them with the land plant megafossil record. The palynology of earlier intervals in the Silurian are also reviewed. A common feature of the cryptospore and trilete spore records is that their number is surprisingly lowest in the tropical climatic belt and much higher in the temperate and especially in the cool latitude, and the highest number of cryptospore taxa occurring only in one belt is found in the cool belt while the highest number of trilete spore taxa that occurred only in one belt is recorded in the temperate belt. In general, based on the dispersed spore record, we can estimate that the plant assemblages of the tropical belt were dominated by rhyniophytes; trimerophytes probably prevailed over rhyniophytes in the temperate belt, and rhyniophytes again dominated within the cool belt. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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15 pages, 6487 KiB  
Article
The Internal Anatomy and Water Current System of Cambrian Archaeocyaths of South China
by Jiayue Wang, Baopeng Song, Yue Liang, Kun Liang and Zhifei Zhang
Life 2024, 14(2), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020167 - 23 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1064
Abstract
Archaeocyaths are a group of extinct filter feeders that flourished in the early Cambrian period and occupied an important position in the evolution of basal fauna and the early marine ecosystem. However, the detailed morphological and anatomical information of this group are still [...] Read more.
Archaeocyaths are a group of extinct filter feeders that flourished in the early Cambrian period and occupied an important position in the evolution of basal fauna and the early marine ecosystem. However, the detailed morphological and anatomical information of this group are still unclear due to insufficient fossil material and limited experimental analyses. Here, we report exquisitely preserved phosphatized archaeocyathan fossil cups, ca. 515 million years old, from the top of the Shuijingtuo Formation (Series 2, Stage 3) and the Xiannüdong Formation (Series 2, Stage 3) of the Yangtze Platform, South China. Detailed observation of their external morphology via scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and micro-computed tomography (Micro-CT) analysis revealed detailed information of their internal structure. They have a typical double-walled cup, with the perforated inner and outer walls concentrically distributed, but the structure between the two walls differs. The inverted cone-shaped cups have radially distributed septa between the walls. Perforated septa connect the two walls. The low and columnar cups have canals between the two walls, forming the network. These pores and cavities constitute an important component of the water current system (pumping and filtering water with a network of canals and chambers) and influence the process of filtration in the cup. In comparison to traditional thin-section analysis, the combination of SEM and Micro-CT analysis on phosphatized archaeocyaths presented in this study further explored the detailed internal structure and finely reconstructed the microscopic overall morphology and anatomy, which provide important information to help us understand the systematic taxonomy, anatomy, and morphology of archaeocyaths during the Cambrian period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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13 pages, 1746 KiB  
Article
First Record of the Family Malachiidae (Coleoptera: Cleroidea) from Mid-Cretaceous Burmese Amber with a Description of Burmalachius acroantennatus Gen. et Spec. Nov.
by Sergei E. Tshernyshev and Andrei A. Legalov
Life 2023, 13(9), 1938; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13091938 - 20 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 729
Abstract
A new soft-winged flower beetle, Burmalachius acroantennatus gen. et sp. nov. belonging to the tribe Malachiini (Coleoptera: Malachiidae), discovered in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber is described. The new genus differs from the congeners of the tribe Malachiini in possessing the following characteristics: anterior tibiae [...] Read more.
A new soft-winged flower beetle, Burmalachius acroantennatus gen. et sp. nov. belonging to the tribe Malachiini (Coleoptera: Malachiidae), discovered in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber is described. The new genus differs from the congeners of the tribe Malachiini in possessing the following characteristics: anterior tibiae widened and slightly curved inwards and excavate near the apices, tarsomeres of anterior legs depressed, 1st to 3rd tarsomeres simple and almost of equal size, tarsal comb lacking, “clavate” antennae due to dilated three apical antennomeres, 1st and 2nd antennomeres enlarged and of identical size, head strongly elongate, sides of elytra with carinate margins and widened epipleurae. This is the first record of the family Malachiidae in Burmese amber. Illustrations of the newly described species are provided. Keys for the identification of Melyrid lineage families, subfamilies of Malachiidae, tribes of the subfamily Malachiinae and genera of the tribe Malachiini are also given. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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17 pages, 4592 KiB  
Article
First Record of the Genus Cartorhynchites Voss, 1958 (Coleoptera: Rhynchitidae) from Eocene Baltic Amber with a List of Fossil Tooth-Nosed Snout Weevils
by Andrei A. Legalov, Andris Bukejs, Anarina Vanaga and Vitalii I. Alekseev
Life 2023, 13(9), 1920; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13091920 - 15 Sep 2023
Viewed by 873
Abstract
A new species of the genus Cartorhynchites (Rhynchitini, Rhynchitina) is described from Baltic amber. Cartorhynchites groehni Legalov, Bukejs et Alekseev sp. n. differs from C. struvei Zherikhin, 1992 from the Miocene of Germany in its smaller body size (2.6 mm), strongly convex eyes, [...] Read more.
A new species of the genus Cartorhynchites (Rhynchitini, Rhynchitina) is described from Baltic amber. Cartorhynchites groehni Legalov, Bukejs et Alekseev sp. n. differs from C. struvei Zherikhin, 1992 from the Miocene of Germany in its smaller body size (2.6 mm), strongly convex eyes, narrower pronotum and wide elytra, and dark brown legs. A new species is studied and illustrated in detail using X-ray micro-computed tomography (μCT). It is the earliest fossil record of subtribe Rhynchitina. A list of fossil Rhynchitidae was compiled. A key to species of Rhynchitidae in Baltic amber was given. Fossil finds of the family Rhynchitidae were discussed. The assumption was made that the Recent distribution range of the genus Cartorhynchites is within the range of its host plant of the genus Symplocos. Probably, a new Eocene species developed on Symplocos kowalewskii, and the Oligocene C. struvei was associated with Symplocos myosotis (Unger). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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16 pages, 7574 KiB  
Article
First Fossil Record of Trichomanes sensu lato (Hymenophyllaceae) from the Mid-Cretaceous Kachin Amber, Myanmar
by Ya Li, Atsushi Ebihara, Natalya Nosova, Zhen-Zhen Tan and Yi-Ming Cui
Life 2023, 13(8), 1709; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13081709 - 09 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1218
Abstract
Hymenophyllaceae (filmy ferns), with ca. 430 species, are the most species-rich family of early diverging leptosporangiate ferns but have a poor fossil record dating back to the Late Triassic period. Traditionally, Hymenophyllaceae comprise two species-rich genera or clades: Hymenophyllum (hymenophylloids) and Trichomanes sensu lato [...] Read more.
Hymenophyllaceae (filmy ferns), with ca. 430 species, are the most species-rich family of early diverging leptosporangiate ferns but have a poor fossil record dating back to the Late Triassic period. Traditionally, Hymenophyllaceae comprise two species-rich genera or clades: Hymenophyllum (hymenophylloids) and Trichomanes sensu lato (s.l.) (trichomanoids). Unequivocal fossils of Hymenophyllum have been reported from the Early Cretaceous of central Mongolia and the early Eocene of Okanogan Highlands, Washington, USA. However, despite being a highly diversified lineage with an estimated 184 extant species, Trichomanes s.l. lack a definitive fossil record, which severely affects the reliability of the molecular dating of this group. Here, we report the first unequivocal fossil record of Trichomanes s.l. as T. angustum comb. nov. on the basis of fertile material with tubular involucres and long exserted receptacles from the mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber, Myanmar. This species was previously tentatively assigned to Hymenophyllites due to a lack of fertile evidence. Inferred to be an epiphytic fern, T. angustum further enriches the species diversity of the epiphytic palaeocommunities in the mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber, which are mainly composed of Porellalean leafy liverworts and Dicranalean and Hypnodendralean mosses. Fossil records indicate that Hymenophyllaceae probably originated in the tropical Pangea at the latest in the Triassic when all continents were coalesced into a single landmass and had already accumulated some notable diversity in low-middle latitude areas of Laurasia by the mid-Cretaceous period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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13 pages, 6889 KiB  
Communication
Caradiophyodidae, a New Family of Micro-Wasps (Hymenoptera: Platygastroidea) Based on the Description of Caradiophyodus saradae gen. et sp. nov. in Mid-Cretaceous Burmese Amber
by George Poinar, Jr. and Fernando E. Vega
Life 2023, 13(8), 1698; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13081698 - 07 Aug 2023
Viewed by 18185
Abstract
The female micro-wasp in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber is described as a new genus and species in the extinct family Caradiophyodidae fam. nov. (Hymenoptera: Platygastroidea). Features of the specimen are its small body size (1.3 mm), no elbows, elongated, 15-segmented antennae, a deep cleft [...] Read more.
The female micro-wasp in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber is described as a new genus and species in the extinct family Caradiophyodidae fam. nov. (Hymenoptera: Platygastroidea). Features of the specimen are its small body size (1.3 mm), no elbows, elongated, 15-segmented antennae, a deep cleft in the top of its head, a tarsal formula of 5-5-5, a reduced venation with a small pterostigma but no uncus in the forewing, no anal lobe in the hind wing, and a possible coiled ovipositor in the metasoma. Large unidentified expanded structures, considered to be possible seeds, plant secretions, or host eggs, are attached to each antenna. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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13 pages, 3168 KiB  
Article
Were Arenga Palms (Arecaceae) Present in the Eocene? A Review of the Genus Succinometrioxena Legalov, 2012
by Andrei A. Legalov
Life 2023, 13(5), 1121; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13051121 - 01 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1151
Abstract
It has been suggested that palms of the genus Arenga (Arecales: Arecaceae) or forms close to it were distributed in the Eocene of North America and Europe. Records of Metrioxenini (Belidae), which are monophages on these palms, confirm this assumption. A new species, [...] Read more.
It has been suggested that palms of the genus Arenga (Arecales: Arecaceae) or forms close to it were distributed in the Eocene of North America and Europe. Records of Metrioxenini (Belidae), which are monophages on these palms, confirm this assumption. A new species, Succinometrioxena andrushchenkoi Legalov, sp. n. from Baltic amber is described. The new species differs from S. poinari Legalov, 2012 in the smaller body sizes, elytral punctation larger than the distances between them, and a rostrum weakly curved in females. It is distinguished from S. bachofeni Legalov, 2013 and S. attenuata Legalov et Poinar, 2020 by the forehead lacking horn-like tubercles on either side of the eyes. A description of male of S. poinari was herein compiled for the first time. A list and key to fossil Metrioxenini were given. The modern and fossil distribution of the tribe Metrioxenini and Arenga palms was shown. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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12 pages, 5389 KiB  
Communication
Araeoanasillus leptosomus gen. et sp. nov., (Hemiptera, Cercopoidea, Sinoalidae?), a New Froghopper from Mid-Cretaceous Burmese Amber with Evidence of Its Possible Host Plant
by George Poinar, Jr. and Alex E. Brown
Life 2023, 13(4), 922; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13040922 - 31 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 7618
Abstract
A new genus and species of froghopper, Araeoanasillus leptosomus gen. et sp. nov. (Hemiptera: Cercopoidea, Sinoalidae?), is described from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The new genus possesses the following diagnostic characteristics: slender, medium size body (length, 7.0 mm) with head longer than wide, round [...] Read more.
A new genus and species of froghopper, Araeoanasillus leptosomus gen. et sp. nov. (Hemiptera: Cercopoidea, Sinoalidae?), is described from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The new genus possesses the following diagnostic characteristics: slender, medium size body (length, 7.0 mm) with head longer than wide, round eyes; antennae slender with eight antennomeres; pedicel very short, shorter than scape; pronotum with a length/width ratio of 2.4; metatibia with three spines, including one short spine near base and two adjacent, long, thick spines near apex; a single series of 16 thick apical teeth (comb) at metatibial apex; tegmen narrow with a length/width ratio of 3.2; tegmen with coastal area and stigmal cell punctate; CuP meeting base of CuA2; and MP branching at middle of wing. In hind wing, Cu vein forked once. A series of plant trichomes adjacent and attached to the specimen suggests that the froghopper’s host plant was a fern. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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14 pages, 10783 KiB  
Article
Beyond the Limits of Light: An Application of Super-Resolution Confocal Microscopy (sCLSM) to Investigate Eocene Amber Microfossils
by Dmitry D. Vorontsov, Vasiliy B. Kolesnikov, Elena E. Voronezhskaya, Evgeny E. Perkovsky, Marielle M. Berto, Joseph Mowery, Ronald Ochoa and Pavel B. Klimov
Life 2023, 13(4), 865; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13040865 - 23 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1609
Abstract
Amber is known as one of the best sources of fossil organisms preserved with exceptional fidelity. Historically, different methods of imaging have been applied to amber, including optical microscopy and microtomography. These methods are sufficient to resolve millimeter-scaled fossils. However, microfossils, such as [...] Read more.
Amber is known as one of the best sources of fossil organisms preserved with exceptional fidelity. Historically, different methods of imaging have been applied to amber, including optical microscopy and microtomography. These methods are sufficient to resolve millimeter-scaled fossils. However, microfossils, such as microarthropods, require another resolution. Here, we describe a non-destructive method of super resolution confocal microscopy (sCLSM) to study amber-preserved microfossils, using a novel astigmatid mite species (genus Histiogaster, Acaridae) from Eocene Rovno amber as a model. We show that the resolution obtained with sCLSM is comparable to that of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) routinely used to study modern mites. We compare sCLSM imaging to other methods that are used to study amber inclusions and emphasize its advantages in examination of unique fossil specimens. Furthermore, we show that the deterioration of amber, which manifests in its darkening, positively correlates with its increased fluorescence. Our results demonstrate a great potential of the sCLSM method for imaging of the tiniest organisms preserved in amber. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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12 pages, 4319 KiB  
Article
New Fossil Evidence Suggests That Angiosperms Flourished in the Middle Jurassic
by Lei Han, Ya Zhao, Ming Zhao, Jie Sun, Bainian Sun and Xin Wang
Life 2023, 13(3), 819; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13030819 - 17 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 6570
Abstract
Angiosperms are a group of plants with the highest rate of evolution, the largest number of species, the widest distribution and the strongest adaptability. Needless to say, angiosperms are the most important group for the humans. The studies on the origin, evolution and [...] Read more.
Angiosperms are a group of plants with the highest rate of evolution, the largest number of species, the widest distribution and the strongest adaptability. Needless to say, angiosperms are the most important group for the humans. The studies on the origin, evolution and systematics of angiosperms have been the major challenges in plant sciences. However, the origin and early history of angiosperms remains poorly understood and controversial among paleobotanists. Some paleobotanists insist that there were no angiosperms in the pre-Cretaceous age. However, this conclusion is facing increasing challenges from fossil evidence, especially Early Jurassic Nanjinganthus, which is based on over two hundred specimens of fossil flowers. Studying more fossil plants is the only reliable way to elucidate the origin and early evolution of angiosperms. Here, we document a new species of angiosperms, Qingganninginfructus formosa gen. et sp. nov, and provide the first detailed three-dimensional morphology of Qingganninginfructus gen. nov from the Middle Jurassic of Northwest China. A Micro-CT examination shows that the best-preserved fossil infructescence has eleven samaroid fruits, each with a single basal ovule. Since these fossils are distinct in morphology and organization from all organs of known gymnosperms and angiosperms (the latter are defined by their enclosed ovules), we interpret Qingganninginfructus as a new genus of angiosperms including a new species, Q. formosa gen. et sp. nov., and an unspecified species from the Middle Jurassic of Northwest China. The discovery of this new genus of angiosperms from the Middle Jurassic, in addition to the existing records, undermines the “no angiosperms until the Cretaceous” stereotype and updates the perspective on the origin and early history of angiosperms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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27 pages, 4242 KiB  
Article
Diagenetic and Biological Overprints in Geochemical Signatures of the Gigantoproductus Tertiary Layer (Brachiopoda): Assessing the Paleoclimatic Interpretation
by José R. Mateos-Carralafuente, Ismael Coronado, Juncal A. Cruz, Pedro Cózar, Esperanza Fernández-Martínez and Sergio Rodríguez
Life 2023, 13(3), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13030714 - 06 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1343
Abstract
Variations in the geochemical signatures of fossil brachiopod shells may be due to diagenesis and/or biological processes (i.e., ‘vital effects’). It is critical to characterise them in order to identify reliable shell areas suitable for paleoclimate studies. This investigation contributes to an in-depth [...] Read more.
Variations in the geochemical signatures of fossil brachiopod shells may be due to diagenesis and/or biological processes (i.e., ‘vital effects’). It is critical to characterise them in order to identify reliable shell areas suitable for paleoclimate studies. This investigation contributes to an in-depth understanding of geochemical variations in Gigantoproductus sp. shells (SW Spain, Serpukhovian age), throwing light onto the Late Paleozoic Ice Age interpretation. Microstructural, crystallographic, cathodoluminescence and geochemical (minor and trace elements, δ18O, δ13C, and strontium isotopes) characterisations have been performed on the tertiary layer of the ventral valve, to assess the preservation state. Poorly preserved areas exhibit microstructural and geochemical changes such as recrystallisation, fracturing and higher Mn and Fe enrichment. Moreover, these areas have a higher dispersion of ⁸⁶Sr, ⁸⁷Sr, δ18O and δ13C than well-preserved areas. Three structural regions have been identified in well-preserved areas of the ventral valve by differences in valve curvature and thickness, such as the umbonal and thick and thin regions. These regions have different proportions of Mg, S, Na, δ18O, and δ13C, which are interpreted as ‘vital effects’ and probably related to growth-rate differences during shell growth. The Gigantoproductus tertiary layer seems the most suitable for paleoclimate studies, because it retains the original microstructure and geochemical composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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11 pages, 2352 KiB  
Article
Unexpected Diversity of Xenoscelinae in Priabonian European Amber: The Third Xenosceline Species from Rovno Amber
by Georgy Yu. Lyubarsky, Evgeny E. Perkovsky and Dmitry V. Vasilenko
Life 2023, 13(3), 636; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13030636 - 24 Feb 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1241
Abstract
Xenophagus simutniki sp. n. is described from a late Eocene Rovno amber specimen. The new species is similar to the fossil Xenophagus popovi Lyubarsky et Perkovsky, 2017 from the late Eocene Baltic amber (W Russia), differing in the medially notched anterior margin of the pronotum. [...] Read more.
Xenophagus simutniki sp. n. is described from a late Eocene Rovno amber specimen. The new species is similar to the fossil Xenophagus popovi Lyubarsky et Perkovsky, 2017 from the late Eocene Baltic amber (W Russia), differing in the medially notched anterior margin of the pronotum. The Rovno xenosceline fauna is the richest among both extant and extinct faunas. This fauna includes the extinct genera Xenophagus Lyubarsky & Perkovsky, 2017 and Xenohimatium Lyubarsky & Perkovsky, 2012, which are closest to the extant Mediterranean Xenoscelis Wollaston 1864 and the representative of the extant boreal genus Zavaljus Reitter, 1880. A key to extinct species of the subfamily Xenoscelinae is presented. The possible reasons of xenoscelines abundance in European amber forests are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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14 pages, 5647 KiB  
Article
Polyplacophoran Feeding Traces on Mediterranean Pliocene Sirenian Bones: Insights on the Role of Grazing Bioeroders in Shallow-Marine Vertebrate Falls
by Alberto Collareta, Marco Merella, Simone Casati, Andrea Di Cencio, Chiara Tinelli and Giovanni Bianucci
Life 2023, 13(2), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020327 - 24 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1562
Abstract
Chitons (Polyplacophora) include some of the most conspicuous bioeroders of the present-day shallow seas. Abundant palaeontological evidence for the feeding activity of ancient chitons is preserved in the form of radular traces that are usually found on invertebrate shells and hardgrounds. We report [...] Read more.
Chitons (Polyplacophora) include some of the most conspicuous bioeroders of the present-day shallow seas. Abundant palaeontological evidence for the feeding activity of ancient chitons is preserved in the form of radular traces that are usually found on invertebrate shells and hardgrounds. We report on widespread grazing traces occurring on partial skeletons of the extinct sirenian Metaxytherium subapenninum from the Lower Pliocene (Zanclean) of Arcille (Grosseto Province, Tuscany, Italy). These distinctive ichnofossils are described under the ichnotaxonomic name Osteocallis leonardii isp. nov. and interpreted as reflecting substrate scraping by polyplacophorans. A scrutiny of palaeontological literature reveals that similar traces occur on fossil vertebrates as old as the Upper Cretaceous, suggesting that bone has served as a substrate for chiton feeding for more than 66 million years. Whether these bone modifications reflect algal grazing, carrion scavenging or bone consumption remains unsure, but the first hypothesis appears to be the most parsimonious, as well as the most likely in light of the available actualistic data. As the role of bioerosion in controlling fossilization can hardly be overestimated, further research investigating how grazing organisms contribute to the biostratinomic processes affecting bone promises to disclose new information on how some marine vertebrates manage to become fossils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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14 pages, 3816 KiB  
Article
An Anatomically Preserved Cone-like Flower from the Lower Cretaceous of China
by Xin Wang, José B. Diez, Mike Pole and Manuel García-Ávila
Life 2023, 13(1), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13010129 - 03 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2148
Abstract
Although diverse fossil angiosperms (including their reproductive organs) have been reported from the Early Cretaceous, few of them are well-documented due to poor preservation and limited technologies available to apply. For example, paraffin sectioning, a routine technology applied to reveal the anatomical details [...] Read more.
Although diverse fossil angiosperms (including their reproductive organs) have been reported from the Early Cretaceous, few of them are well-documented due to poor preservation and limited technologies available to apply. For example, paraffin sectioning, a routine technology applied to reveal the anatomical details of extant plants, was hitherto at most rarely applied to fossil plants. This undermines the comparability between the outcomes of studies on fossil and extant plants, and makes our understanding on plants incomplete and biased. Here, we applied paraffin sectioning technology, in addition to light microscopy, SEM, and TEM, to document a fossil reproductive organ, Xilinia gen. nov., from the Early Cretaceous in Inner Mongolia, China. The anatomical details of this new reproductive organ were documented. Xilinia bears a remarkable resemblance to conifer cones, although its ovules are enclosed in carpels. The paradoxical cone-like morphology of Xilinia appears to represent a transitional snapshot of plant evolution that is absent in extant plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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10 pages, 3439 KiB  
Article
Balticalcarus archibaldi Simutnik Gen. et sp. n. (Chalcidoidea, Encyrtidae) with the Unusually Small Mesotibial Spur from Baltic Amber
by Serguei A. Simutnik, Evgeny E. Perkovsky and Dmitry V. Vasilenko
Life 2022, 12(12), 2028; https://doi.org/10.3390/life12122028 - 05 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1221
Abstract
Balticalcarus archibaldi Simutnik, gen. et sp. n., is described and illustrated based on a female specimen from late Eocene Baltic amber. The new genus is characterized by the absence of a filum spinosum, a “boat”-shaped hypopygium enclosing the ovipositor, reaching far past the [...] Read more.
Balticalcarus archibaldi Simutnik, gen. et sp. n., is described and illustrated based on a female specimen from late Eocene Baltic amber. The new genus is characterized by the absence of a filum spinosum, a “boat”-shaped hypopygium enclosing the ovipositor, reaching far past the apex of the syntergum, the presence of a line of long setae along the entire costal cell of the hind wing, and a transverse line of thickened setae alongside the hyaline spur vein. Moreover, like most previously described Eocene Encyrtidae, the new taxon differs from the majority of the extant ones by a number of morphological features. The new fossil differs from most extant and all known fossil Encyrtidae by its unusually small, thin, smooth (without microsetae) mesotibial spur. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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Review

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16 pages, 19134 KiB  
Review
The Deep Past of the White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, in the Mediterranean Sea: A Synthesis of Its Palaeobiology and Palaeoecology
by Alberto Collareta, Simone Casati, Andrea Di Cencio and Giovanni Bianucci
Life 2023, 13(10), 2085; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13102085 - 20 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3361
Abstract
The white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, is the main top predator of the present-day Mediterranean Sea. The deep past of C. carcharias in the Mediterranean is witnessed by a rather conspicuous, mostly Pliocene fossil record. Here, we provide a synthesis of the palaeobiology [...] Read more.
The white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, is the main top predator of the present-day Mediterranean Sea. The deep past of C. carcharias in the Mediterranean is witnessed by a rather conspicuous, mostly Pliocene fossil record. Here, we provide a synthesis of the palaeobiology and palaeoecology of the Mediterranean white sharks. Phenetically modern white shark teeth first appeared around the Miocene–Pliocene transition in the Pacific, and soon after in the Mediterranean. Molecular phylogenetic analyses support an origin of the Mediterranean white shark population from the dispersal of Australian/Pacific palaeopopulations, which may have occurred through the Central American Seaway. Tooth dimensions suggest that the Mediterranean white sharks could have grown up to about 7 m total length during the Pliocene. A richer-than-today marine mammal fauna was likely pivotal in supporting the Mediterranean white sharks through the Pliocene and most of the Quaternary. White sharks have seemingly become more common as other macropredators declined and disappeared, notwithstanding the concurrent demise of many potential prey items in the context of the latest Pliocene and Quaternary climatic and environmental perturbations of the Mediterranean region. The overall generalist trophic habits of C. carcharias were likely crucial for securing ecological success in the highly variable Mediterranean scenario by allowing the transition to a mostly piscivorous diet as the regional marine mammal fauna shrank. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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10 pages, 1412 KiB  
Review
Origin of Angiosperms: Problems, Challenges, and Solutions
by Xin Wang
Life 2023, 13(10), 2029; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13102029 - 09 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3358
Abstract
Angiosperms are frequently assumed to constitute a monophyletic group. Therefore, the origin of angiosperms is a key question in systematic botany since the answer to this question is hinged with many questions concerned with angiosperm evolution. Previously, the lack of fossil evidence undermines [...] Read more.
Angiosperms are frequently assumed to constitute a monophyletic group. Therefore, the origin of angiosperms is a key question in systematic botany since the answer to this question is hinged with many questions concerned with angiosperm evolution. Previously, the lack of fossil evidence undermines the robustness of related hypotheses, and explains the instability of the systematics of angiosperms in the past century. With increasing evidence of early angiosperms, the origin and early evolution of angiosperms become approachable targets. However, reaching a strict consensus is still a mission impossible now: there are too many issues open to debate. A good sign in research is that palaeobotanists started addressing the issue of criterion identifying angiosperms, this would bring order in studies of early angiosperms. Several flaws in fundamental concepts inflicting botany require efforts to elucidate and remedy. The author here opens a discussion on these problems, hoping that more botanists will join to discuss and clarify previously blurry concepts and place a solid foundation for future development in botany. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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Other

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14 pages, 3128 KiB  
Opinion
Spore Evidence for the Origin of Isoetalean Lycopsids?
by Jiří Bek and Jana Votočková Frojdová
Life 2023, 13(7), 1546; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13071546 - 12 Jul 2023
Viewed by 914
Abstract
A new hypothesis about the origin of isoetalean lycopsids was proposed based on palynological data. The occurrence of three apical papillae on the proximal surfaces of miospores is a significant palynological feature that is clearly defined in both isoetalean and selaginellalean clades. Three [...] Read more.
A new hypothesis about the origin of isoetalean lycopsids was proposed based on palynological data. The occurrence of three apical papillae on the proximal surfaces of miospores is a significant palynological feature that is clearly defined in both isoetalean and selaginellalean clades. Three apical papillae appeared for the first time within lower Silurian (Wenlockian ca. 430 My) and only in rhyniophytoid plants. Using this observation, we suggest that isoetalean lycopsids could have evolved directly from rhyniophytoids and not from protolepidodendralean lycopsids in the middle Devonian (Eifelian–Givetian) as previously suggested, because protolepidodendralean spores do not possess three apical papillae. Spores with three apical papillae, reported as dispersed as well as in situ, were recorded continuously from the lower Silurian (Wenlockian) through the Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Mesozoic to Cenozoic era and form a phylogenetically independent lineage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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