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Lukeneder A.,Natural History Museum Vienna
Computers and Geosciences | Year: 2012

The first 3D visualisation of a heteromorph cephalopod species from the Southern Alps (Dolomites, northern Italy) is presented. Computed tomography, palaeontological data and 3D reconstructions were included in the production of a movie, which shows a life reconstruction of the extinct organism. This detailed reconstruction is according to the current knowledge of the shape and mode of life as well as habitat of this animal. The results are based on the most complete shell known thus far of the genus . Dissimilites. Object-based combined analyses from computed tomography and various computed 3D facility programmes help to understand morphological details as well as their ontogentical changes in fossil material. In this study, an additional goal was to show changes in locomotion during different ontogenetic phases of such fossil, marine shell-bearing animals (ammonoids). Hence, the presented models and tools can serve as starting points for discussions on morphology and locomotion of extinct cephalopods in general, and of the genus . Dissimilites in particular. The heteromorph ammonoid genus . Dissimilites is interpreted here as an active swimmer of the Tethyan Ocean. This study portrays non-destructive methods of 3D visualisation applied on palaeontological material, starting with computed tomography resulting in animated, high-quality video clips. The here presented 3D geometrical models and animation, which are based on palaeontological material, demonstrate the wide range of applications, analytical techniques and also outline possible limitations of 3D models in earth sciences and palaeontology. The realistic 3D models and motion pictures can easily be shared amongst palaeontologists. Data, images and short clips can be discussed online and, if necessary, adapted in morphological details and motion-style to better represent the cephalopod animal. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Habel J.C.,Invertebrate Biology | Zachos F.E.,Natural History Museum Vienna
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2012

Habitats often show similar present structuring, but contrasting histories: habitats occur naturally fragmented due to abiotic or biotic factors over long time periods, but may also have become fragmented only recently through transformation from interconnected to highly fragmented habitats within short time periods. Species and populations being faced with such contrasting habitat scenarios also show contrasting responses at species and intraspecific level. Organisms and populations from naturally fragmented habitats may show a reduction in their genetic load (purging) due to purifying selection in isolation. In contrast, sudden habitat transformations from interconnected to highly fragmented structures and the resulting transition from gene flow or panmixia to strong population differentiation often have negative effects on biota; while species occur in interconnected population networks (maintaining a high proportion of genetic diversity), a sudden breakdown of gene flow may lead to a severe loss of genetic diversity and the manifestation of weakly deleterious alleles. In consequence, fragmented habitats need not have a negative impact on species per se, but the history of habitat structures, particularly fast transformation processes, may severely affect the persistence and fitness of species. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Dellmour R.,OMV Austria Exploration and Production GmbH | Harzhauser M.,Natural History Museum Vienna
Marine and Petroleum Geology | Year: 2012

During the latest Early Miocene a large drainage system developed in the Alpine-Carpathian Foreland transporting sediments through a prominent submarine canyon along the narrow corridor between the south-eastern Bohemian Massif and the Waschberg-Ždánice Unit. The canyon followed the Alpine-Carpathian Foredeep from Lower Austria towards the north and northeast into the Czech Republic. 3-D seismic data allow the mapping of this 600 m deep structure over a distance of 25 km and a width of 5 km. Despite its dimension, making it the largest submarine erosive and sedimentary structure of the Neogene Alpine-Carpathian Foredeep, this canyon has not been previously recognised. Herein, it is interpreted as shelf-indenting canyon that formed due to a combination of isostatic rebound along a terminating thrust front and sea-level change during the terminal Early Miocene. The canyon fill comprises reworked littoral deposits with a typical Early Miocene, tropical micro- and macrofauna. The exact timing of this refilling remains unclear. Smaller channel structures in surface outcrops, representing potential tributaries of the canyon, suggest a more or less synsedimentary filling soon after indention. Finally, the top part of the canyon was eroded around the Early/Middle Miocene boundary, probably related to a global 3rd order sea level drop, and caped by marine marls during the subsequent early Middle Miocene transgression. With the sudden onset of the subsidence of the Northern Vienna Basin during that time, the drainage system abruptly moved southward shedding its sediments into the newly opening Vienna Basin. This explains the rather abrupt abandonment of the huge canyon feature, whose fan deposits are unknown so far. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Husemann M.,Baylor University | Schmitt T.,University of Trier | Zachos F.E.,Natural History Museum Vienna | Ulrich W.,Nicolaus Copernicus University | Habel J.C.,TU Munich
Journal of Biogeography | Year: 2014

Aim: In contrast to the attention given to southern Europe both as a centre of speciation and differentiation and as a Pleistocene refugium of Western Palaearctic taxa, North Africa has been relatively neglected. In this paper, we set out to address this shortfall. Location: North-West Africa and the Mediterranean. Methods: We reviewed the existing literature on the biogeography of North Africa, and carried out analyses of species distribution data using parsimony, nestedness and co-occurrence methods. Results: In many cases, distribution patterns of non-flying mammals, bats, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, zygaenid moths and odonates demonstrated important biogeographical affinities between Europe and North Africa at the species level. On the other hand, species co-occurrence, nestedness and parsimony analysis also revealed some deep splits between the Maghreb and Europe; yet even in these cases the closest affinities were found between the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghreb. Furthermore, North Africa harbours the highest proportion of endemic taxa (13.7%) across all groups analysed. Many molecular studies demonstrated a strong genetic cohesiveness between North Africa and Europe despite the potential barrier effect of the Mediterranean Sea. In other taxa, however, remarkable splits were detected. In addition, southern European genetic lineages were often nested within North African clades, and many taxa showed exceptionally high genetic variability and differentiation in this region. Main conclusions: The Maghreb was an important differentiation and speciation centre for thermophilic organisms during the Pliocene and Pleistocene with high relevance as a colonization source for Europe. The regions around the sea straits of Gibraltar and Sicily have acted as important biogeographical links between North Africa and Europe at different times. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Stuckas H.,Museum of Zoology | Gemel R.,Natural History Museum Vienna | Fritz U.,Museum of Zoology
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Pelusios seychellensis is thought to be a freshwater turtle species endemic to the island of Mahé, Seychelles. There are only three museum specimens from the late 19th century known. The species has been never found again, despite intensive searches on Mahé. Therefore, P. seychellensis has been declared as "Extinct" by the IUCN and is the sole putatively extinct freshwater turtle species. Using DNA sequences of three mitochondrial genes of the historical type specimen and phylogenetic analyses including all other species of the genus, we provide evidence that the description of P. seychellensis was erroneously based on a widely distributed West African species, P. castaneus. Consequently, we synonymize the two species and delete P. seychellensis from the list of extinct chelonian species and from the faunal list of the Seychelles. © 2013 Stuckas et al. Source

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