Crustacean remains from the Yuka mammoth raise questions about non-analogue freshwater communities in the Beringian region during the Pleistocene.
ABSTRACT: Frozen permafrost Pleistocene mammal carcasses with soft tissue remains are subject to intensive study and help elucidate the palaeoenvironment where these animals lived. Here we present an inventory of the freshwater fauna and flora found in a sediment sample from the mummified Woolly Mammoth carcass found in August 2010, from the Oyogos Yar coast near the Kondratievo River in the Laptev Sea region, Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, NE Russia. Our study demonstrates that the waterbody where the carcass was buried could be characterized as a shallow pond or lake inhabited mainly by taxa which are present in this area today, but additionally by some branchiopod crustacean taxa currently absent or unusual in the region although they exist in the arid zone of Eurasia (steppes and semi-deserts). These findings suggest that some "non-analogue" crustacean communities co-existed with the "Mammoth fauna". Our findings raise questions about the nature of the waterbodies that existed in Beringia during the MIS3 climatic optimum when the mammoth was alive.
Project description:Metazoan genomes encode an abundant collection of mRNA-like, long noncoding (lnc)RNAs. Although lncRNAs greatly expand the transcriptional repertoire, we have a limited understanding of how these RNAs contribute to developmental regulation. Here, we investigate the function of the Drosophila lncRNA called yellow-achaete intergenic RNA (yar). Comparative sequence analyses show that the yar gene is conserved in Drosophila species representing 40-60 million years of evolution, with one of the conserved sequence motifs encompassing the yar promoter. Further, the timing of yar expression in Drosophila virilis parallels that in D. melanogaster, suggesting that transcriptional regulation of yar is conserved. The function of yar was defined by generating null alleles. Flies lacking yar RNAs are viable and show no overt morphological defects, consistent with maintained transcriptional regulation of the adjacent yellow (y) and achaete (ac) genes. The location of yar within a neural gene cluster led to the investigation of effects of yar in behavioral assays. These studies demonstrated that loss of yar alters sleep regulation in the context of a normal circadian rhythm. Nighttime sleep was reduced and fragmented, with yar mutants displaying diminished sleep rebound following sleep deprivation. Importantly, these defects were rescued by a yar transgene. These data provide the first example of a lncRNA gene involved in Drosophila sleep regulation. We find that yar is a cytoplasmic lncRNA, suggesting that yar may regulate sleep by affecting stabilization or translational regulation of mRNAs. Such functions of lncRNAs may extend to vertebrates, as lncRNAs are abundant in neural tissues.
Project description:Ancient remains found in permafrost represent a rare opportunity to study past ecosystems. Here, we present an exceptionally well-preserved ancient bird carcass found in the Siberian permafrost, along with a radiocarbon date and a reconstruction of its complete mitochondrial genome. The carcass was radiocarbon dated to approximately 44-49 ka BP, and was genetically identified as a female horned lark. This is a species that usually inhabits open habitat, such as the steppe environment that existed in Siberia at the time. This near-intact carcass highlights the potential of permafrost remains for evolutionary studies that combine both morphology and ancient nucleic acids.
Project description:The Pedra de Fogo Formation in the Parnaíba Basin of northeastern Brazil hosts a recently discovered lacustrine fauna and provides the only known record of the Captorhinidae in South America. Here, new captorhinid remains from this unit are described. Two partial mandibles, including one formerly ascribed to the genus Captorhinus, are here referred to Captorhinikos sp. a genus previously described from North America. The natural mould of a large mandible probably represents a new taxon within the captorhinid subclade Moradisaurinae, and a small skull roof is regarded as Captorhinidae indet. Captorhinids are generally considered to have been herbivores or omnivores. The Pedra de Fogo captorhinids likely played an important ecological role as primary consumers in the palaeoenvironment of this geological unit, which is also known for its extensive record of petrified forests. The new finds reinforce the close relationships between the continental faunas of palaeotropical western Gondwana and palaeoequatorial North America during the Cisuralian.
Project description:Relatively high <sup>15</sup>N abundances in bone collagen of early anatomically modern humans in Europe have often been interpreted as a specific consumption of freshwater resources, even if mammoth is an alternative high <sup>15</sup>N prey. At Buran-Kaya III, access to associated fauna in a secured archaeological context and application of recently developed isotopic analyses of individuals amino acids offer the opportunity to further examine this hypothesis. The site of Buran-Kaya III is located in south Crimea and has provided a rich archaeological sequence including two Upper Palaeolithic layers, from which human fossils were retrieved and directly dated as from 37.8 to 33.1 ka cal BP. Results from bulk collagen of three human remains suggests the consumption of a high <sup>15</sup>N prey besides the contribution of saiga, red deer, horse and hare, whose butchered remains were present at the site. In contrast to bulk collagen, phenylalanine and glutamic acid <sup>15</sup>N abundances reflect not only animal but also plant protein contributions to omnivorous diet, and allow disentangling aquatic from terrestrial resource consumption. The inferred human trophic position values point to terrestrial-based diet, meaning a significant contribution of mammoth meat, in addition to a clear intake of plant protein.
Project description:Whale carcasses create remarkable habitats in the deep-sea by producing concentrated sources of organic matter for a food-deprived biota as well as places of evolutionary novelty and biodiversity. Although many of the faunal patterns on whale falls have already been described, the biogeography of these communities is still poorly known especially from basins other than the NE Pacific Ocean. The present work describes the community composition of the deepest natural whale carcass described to date found at 4204 m depth on Southwest Atlantic Ocean with manned submersible Shinkai 6500. This is the first record of a natural whale fall in the deep Atlantic Ocean. The skeleton belonged to an Antarctic Minke whale composed of only nine caudal vertebrae, whose degradation state suggests it was on the bottom for 5-10 years. The fauna consisted mainly of galatheid crabs, a new species of the snail Rubyspira and polychaete worms, including a new Osedax species. Most of the 41 species found in the carcass are new to science, with several genera shared with NE Pacific whale falls and vent and seep ecosystems. This similarity suggests the whale-fall fauna is widespread and has dispersed in a stepping stone fashion, deeply influencing its evolutionary history.
Project description:The Kara and Laptev seas receive about one half of total freshwater runoff to the Arctic Ocean from the Ob, Yenisei, and Lena rivers. Discharges of these large rivers form freshened surface water masses over wide areas in these seas. These water masses, i.e., the Ob-Yenisei and Lena river plumes, generate an eastward buoyancy boundary current that accounts for the large-scale zonal freshwater transport along the Siberian part in the Arctic Ocean. In this study we investigate spreading of the Ob-Yenisei plume from the Kara Sea to the Laptev Sea through the Vilkitsky Strait and of the Lena plume from the Laptev Sea to the East-Siberian Sea through the Laptev and Sannikov straits during ice-free season. Large horizontal density gradient between freshened plume water and salty ambient sea water is the main driver of these processes, however, their intensity strongly depends on local wind forcing. The Ob-Yenisei plume is spreading to the Laptev Sea in a narrow alongshore current which is induced by strong and long-term southwesterly winds. Under other wind forcing the plume does not reach the Vilkitsky Strait. The Lena plume is almost constantly spreading to the East-Siberian Sea as a large-scale surface water mass which intensity is governed by eastward Ekman transport and is prone to large synoptic variability.
Project description:Pig carcasses, as human proxies, were placed on the seabed at a depth of 300 m, in the Strait of Georgia and observed continuously by a remotely operated camera and instruments. Two carcasses were deployed in spring and two in fall utilizing Ocean Network Canada's Victoria Experimental Network under the Sea (formerly VENUS) observatory. A trial experiment showed that bluntnose sixgill sharks could rapidly devour a carcass so a platform was designed which held two matched carcasses, one fully exposed, the other covered in a barred cage to protect it from sharks, while still allowing invertebrates and smaller vertebrates access. The carcasses were deployed under a frame which supported a video camera, and instruments which recorded oxygen, temperature, salinity, density, pressure, conductivity, sound speed and turbidity at per minute intervals. The spring exposed carcass was briefly fed upon by sharks, but they were inefficient feeders and lost interest after a few bites. Immediately after deployment, all carcasses, in both spring and fall, were very rapidly covered in vast numbers of lyssianassid amphipods. These skeletonized the carcasses by Day 3 in fall and Day 4 in spring. A dramatic, very localized drop in dissolved oxygen levels occurred in fall, exactly coinciding with the presence of the amphipods. Oxygen levels returned to normal once the amphipods dispersed. Either the physical presence of the amphipods or the sudden draw down of oxygen during their tenure, excluded other fauna. The amphipods fed from the inside out, removing the skin last. After the amphipods had receded, other fauna colonized such as spot shrimp and a few Dungeness crabs but by this time, all soft tissue had been removed. The amphipod activity caused major bioturbation in the local area and possible oxygen depletion. The spring deployment carcasses became covered in silt and a black film formed on them and on the silt above them whereas the fall bones remained uncovered and hence continued to be attractive to large numbers of spot shrimp. The carcass remains were recovered after 166 and 134 days respectively for further study.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Late Pleistocene North America hosted at least two divergent and ecologically distinct species of mammoth: the periglacial woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and the subglacial Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). To date, mammoth genetic research has been entirely restricted to woolly mammoths, rendering their genetic evolution difficult to contextualize within broader Pleistocene paleoecology and biogeography. Here, we take an interspecific approach to clarifying mammoth phylogeny by targeting Columbian mammoth remains for mitogenomic sequencing. RESULTS:We sequenced the first complete mitochondrial genome of a classic Columbian mammoth, as well as the first complete mitochondrial genome of a North American woolly mammoth. Somewhat contrary to conventional paleontological models, which posit that the two species were highly divergent, the M. columbi mitogenome we obtained falls securely within a subclade of endemic North American M. primigenius. CONCLUSIONS:Though limited, our data suggest that the two species interbred at some point in their evolutionary histories. One potential explanation is that woolly mammoth haplotypes entered Columbian mammoth populations via introgression at subglacial ecotones, a scenario with compelling parallels in extant elephants and consistent with certain regional paleontological observations. This highlights the need for multi-genomic data to sufficiently characterize mammoth evolutionary history. Our results demonstrate that the use of next-generation sequencing technologies holds promise in obtaining such data, even from non-cave, non-permafrost Pleistocene depositional contexts.
Project description:DNA obtained from environmental samples such as sediments, ice or water (environmental DNA, eDNA), represents an important source of information on past and present biodiversity. It has revealed an ancient forest in Greenland, extended by several thousand years the survival dates for mainland woolly mammoth in Alaska, and pushed back the dates for spruce survival in Scandinavian ice-free refugia during the last glaciation. More recently, eDNA was used to uncover the past 50 000 years of vegetation history in the Arctic, revealing massive vegetation turnover at the Pleistocene/Holocene transition, with implications for the extinction of megafauna. Furthermore, eDNA can reflect the biodiversity of extant flora and fauna, both qualitatively and quantitatively, allowing detection of rare species. As such, trace studies of plant and vertebrate DNA in the environment have revolutionized our knowledge of biogeography. However, the approach remains marred by biases related to DNA behaviour in environmental settings, incomplete reference databases and false positive results due to contamination. We provide a review of the field.
Project description:This article describes the development, implementation, and evaluation of the transdisciplinary "Successful Pathways to Employment for youth at Risk" (SUPER) program to raise the transition readiness of youth at risk (YAR) from school into participation in adults' responsibilities and employment. More than 10% of adolescents are at risk of dropping out of school following poor academic attainments. Schools appraise academic merit but do not develop relevant educational programs to prepare youth to transition into adult working life. The SUPER program addresses a range of knowledge and skills required for this transition. Sixty YAR from three high schools participated in the 18-week SUPER program. Comparing the pre- and postintervention results revealed that the students' engagement with responsibilities, objective knowledge about the work world, and self-rated self-advocacy skills improved as did their supervisor-rated work performance capacity. This study confirms the contribution of the SUPER model. Its concepts, tools, principles, and community labor-market involvement through workplace internships were effective and could apply in other contexts. The SUPER model provides evidence-based knowledge translation that can bring conceptual and practical changes towards successful transition and participation of YAR in adult working roles.