Palaeo After Dark

The gang discusses two papers that look at the co-evolution of plants and herbivores. The first paper finds the earliest evidence of a unique type of insect herbivory in the fossil record, and the second looks at the evolutionary impact of the extinction of large herbivores on palm trees. Meanwhile, Curt recovers from COVID round 2, Amanda is a static character, and James finds that getting what he wants is almost worse than not getting it at all.


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Our friends talk about things that live in the ground and make their own food but are not able to move (like a tree and other things) and also the animals that eat these things. Some small animals eat the parts of trees that catch the sun but have this stuff that is supposed to get these small animals stuck if they try and eat these parts of the tree. The way that these small animals do this is either by cutting off the stuff that would get them stuck and then eating the rest of these parts that grab sun. We know that trees and other things like trees started to use this stuff a long time ago. This paper finds the first time that we know of in which these small animals were able to cut off the stuff that would get them stuck. They used the same ideas in the past that they use today, and it happened pretty close to when trees and other things like them started to use this stuff. This means that the trees and the small animals that eat them were changing with each other.

The second paper looks at how a type of tree that is not a real tree changed when the large animals that could have eaten it were not there. The people who wrote this paper had ideas about what changes could have happened when these not trees didn't have large animals around to eat them, but it turns out to have been a little different from what they might have thought. These not trees stopped making parts that would stop animals from eating them, but they didn't stop making big food. This might mean that big food is not just something that big animals can use, and that maybe small animals were eating the food and that would help the not tree to move its babies around.



Onstein, Renske E., W. Daniel  Kissling, and H. Peter Linder. "The megaherbivore gap after the  non-avian dinosaur extinctions modified trait evolution and  diversification of tropical palms." Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289.1972 (2022): 20212633.

McCoy, Victoria E., et al. "Oldest fossil evidence of latex sabotaging behavior by herbivorous insects." Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 300 (2022): 104631.

Direct download: Podcast_238_-_Plants_With_Strong_Goku_Energy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses two papers which use morphology to infer behavior in the fossil record. The first paper looks at the origins of the “killer whale” type morphology in fossil cetaceans, and the second paper describes the earliest example of a diurnal owl in the fossil record. Meanwhile, James proposes an unconventional workforce, Curt imagines the sea mammal revolution, and Amanda cuts the crap… out of her basement.


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Our friends talk about two papers that look at how things look and how we can use that to tell how animals might have lived in the past. The first paper looks at a group of animals with hair that breathe air but live their whole lives in water and do not have legs. There are lots of different types of these animals but one of these animals is named after being someone that kills. However, there is another group of these animals that look a lot like these animals that are named after killing but are not the same. This paper finds a really old one of these animals that looks like but is not one of these killing animals. These animals have things that make them eat in different ways than most of the animals with hair that live in water. This older animal may be the first time that these animals with hair who live in water were eating in this way. It also shows that this type of body that looks like these animals that are named for killing really did appear many times within the group.

The second paper looks at animals who fly that are usually out at night and kill very quietly. They find a very old one of these animals that is very complete and allows them to see lots of parts of the animal we usually do not get. These parts show that this animal may have actually been moving around during the day instead of at night, like most of the other animals in this group. They show that moving around in the day is something that a few of these animals today do and that it has appeared many times in the past. This animal might be the oldest one of these animals that lived in the day, and shows that, even though most of these animals today are out at night, the group has a lot more going on with whether or not these animals were out in the day or at night.



Li, Zhiheng, et al. "Early evolution  of diurnal habits in owls (Aves, Strigiformes) documented by a new and  exquisitely preserved Miocene owl fossil from China." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119.15 (2022): e2119217119.

Bianucci, Giovanni, et al. "The origins of the killer whale ecomorph." Current Biology (2022).

Direct download: Podcast_237_-_Day_Walkers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT