Sciencesciencepaleontologybiologyrangeomorphsmillionsofyears

Fri Feb 22, 2019, 07:50 AM

Exploring the Mysterious Life of One of Earths First Giant Organisms

Strange creatures known as “rangeomorphs” could help paleontologists understand the origins of animal life



Paleontologists unearthed a strange sight in Newfoundland in the early 2000s: an
ancient fossil bed of giant, frond-shaped marine organisms. Researchers had
discovered these mysterious extinct creatures—called rangeomorphs—before,
but they continue to defy categorization. Now scientists believe the Newfoundland
fossils and their brethren could help answer key questions about life on Earth.

Rangeomorphs date back to the Ediacaran period, which lasted from about
635 million to 541 million years ago. They had stemlike bodies that sprouted f
ractal-like branches and were soft like jellyfish. Scientists think these creatures
grew to sizes until then unseen among animals—up to two meters long. After they
went extinct, the planet saw an explosion of diverse large animal life during the Cambrian.
“Rangeomorphs are part of the broader context of what was going on at this time in Earth's
history,” says study co-author Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill, a paleobiology research fellow at the
Tokyo Institute of Technology. Figuring out how rangeomorphs grew to such great sizes could
help provide context for understanding how big, diverse animals originated and how conditions
on Earth—which were shifting around this time—may have affected the evolution of life.

To better understand these connections, Hoyal Cuthill and University of Cambridge paleontologist
Simon Conway Morris analyzed several rangeomorph fossils. The pair performed a micro
CT scan on one well-preserved fossil of a species called Avalofractus abaculus, found in
Newfoundland, to examine its 3-D structure in fine detail. They also took photographic
measurements of two other specimens for comparison.

The researchers examined various aspects of the rangeomorphs' stems and branches,
then used mathematical models to investigate the relation between the fossils' surface
areas and volumes. Their models, combined with the fossil observations, revealed that
the organisms' size and shape appeared to be governed by the amount of available nutrients,
according to the study, published recently in Nature Ecology & Evolution. This may explain
why they could reach such large sizes during a period when Earth's geochemistry was changing.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exploring-the-mysterious-life-of-one-of-earths-first-giant-organisms/


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Reply Exploring the Mysterious Life of One of Earths First Giant Organisms (Original post)
Micrometer Feb 2019 OP
Gunslinger201 Feb 2019 #1
Micrometer Feb 2019 #2
Gunslinger201 Feb 2019 #3

Response to Micrometer (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2019, 09:00 AM

1. Pretty amazing life forms on this planet, Scotty






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Response to Gunslinger201 (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 22, 2019, 09:03 AM

2. With friends like that, who needs anenames.

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Response to Micrometer (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 22, 2019, 09:04 AM

3. Ba Dum Tiss

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