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Montanari, Shaena (2)
Brusatte, Stephen L. (1)
Curnoe, Darren (1)
De Wolf, Wendy (1)
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Norell, Mark A. (1)
Price, Gilbert J. (1)
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Pliocene Paleoenvironments of Southeastern Queensland, Australia Inferred from Stable Isotopes of Marsupial Tooth Enamel
Price, Gilbert J.
The Chinchilla Local Fauna is a diverse assemblage of both terrestrial and aquatic Pliocene vertebrates from the fluviatile Chinchilla Sand deposits of southeastern Queensland, Australia. It represents one of Australia's few but exceptionally rich Pliocene vertebrate localities, and as such is an important source of paleoecological data concerning Pliocene environmental changes and its effects on ecosystems. Prior inferences about the paleoenvironment of this locality made on the basis of qualitative observations have ranged from grassland to open woodland to wetland. Examination of the carbon and oxygen isotopes in the tooth enamel of marsupials from this site represents a quantitative method for inferring the paleoenvironments and paleoecology of the fossil fauna. Results from Chinchilla show that Protemnodon sp. indet. consumed both C3 and C4 photosynthesis plant types (mean δ13C = −14.5±2.0‰), and therefore probably occupied a mixed vegetation environment. Macropus sp. indet. from Chinchilla also consumed a mixed diet of both C3 and C4 plants, with more of a tendency for C4 plant consumption (mean δ13C = −10.3±2.3‰). Interestingly, their isotopic dietary signature is more consistent with tropical and temperate kangaroo communities than the sub-tropical communities found around Chinchilla today. Other genera sampled in this study include the extinct kangaroo Troposodon sp. indet. and the fossil diprotodontid Euryzygoma dunense each of which appear to have occupied distinct dietary niches. This study suggests that southeastern Queensland hosted a mosaic of tropical forests, wetlands and grasslands during the Pliocene and was much less arid than previously thought.
Variation of osteocyte lacunae size within the tetrapod skeleton: implications for palaeogenomics
Brusatte, Stephen L.
De Wolf, Wendy
Norell, Mark A.
Recent studies have emphasized the ability to reconstruct genome sizes (C-values) of extinct organisms such as dinosaurs, using correlations between known genome sizes and bone cell (osteocyte lacunae) volumes. Because of the established positive relationship between cell size and genome size in extant vertebrates, osteocyte lacunae volume is a viable proxy for reconstructing C-values in the absence of any viable genetic material. However, intra-skeletal osteocyte lacunae size variation, which could cause error in genome size estimation, has remained unexplored. Here, 11 skeletal elements of one individual from each of four major clades (Mammalia, Amphibia, Aves, Reptilia) were examined histologically. Skeletal elements in all four clades exhibit significant differences in the average sizes of their lacunae. This variation, however, generally does not cause a significant difference in the estimated genome size when common phylogenetic estimation methods are employed. On the other hand, the spread of the estimations illustrates that this method may not be precise. High variance in genome size estimations remains an outstanding problem. Additionally, a suite of new methods is introduced to further automate the measurement of bone cells and other microstructural features on histological thin sections.
osteocyte lacunae; genome size; palaeogenomics; bone histology
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