Senckenberg Museum

Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Senckenberg Museum

Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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PubMed | Armenian National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Royal Botanic Gardens, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and 67 more.
Type: | Journal: Biodiversity data journal | Year: 2015

Reliable taxonomy underpins communication in all of biology, not least nature conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem resources. The flexibility of taxonomic interpretations, however, presents a serious challenge for end-users of taxonomic concepts. Users need standardised and continuously harmonised taxonomic reference systems, as well as high-quality and complete taxonomic data sets, but these are generally lacking for non-specialists. The solution is in dynamic, expertly curated web-based taxonomic tools. The Pan-European Species-directories Infrastructure (PESI) worked to solve this key issue by providing a taxonomic e-infrastructure for Europe. It strengthened the relevant social (expertise) and information (standards, data and technical) capacities of five major community networks on taxonomic indexing in Europe, which is essential for proper biodiversity assessment and monitoring activities. The key objectives of PESI were: 1) standardisation in taxonomic reference systems, 2) enhancement of the quality and completeness of taxonomic data sets and 3) creation of integrated access to taxonomic information.This paper describes the results of PESI and its future prospects, including the involvement in major European biodiversity informatics initiatives and programs.

Embry J.-C.,Musee National dHistoire Naturelle | Embry J.-C.,French Institute of Petroleum | Embry J.-C.,Statoil | Vennin E.,Musee National dHistoire Naturelle | And 6 more authors.
Geological Society Special Publication | Year: 2010

A 380 m thick Aptian platform to basin transition has been studied along a 16 km long transect of excellent and continuous outcrops in NE Spain. The series has been dated using biostratigraphy (foraminifera and ammonites) and carbon-isotope stratigraphy, and has been subdivided at four scales of depositional sequences. The Aptian marine succession is subdivided into two-large scale sequences separated by a middle Aptian sub-aerial exposure surface. A characteristic trend of the floral-faunal fossil assemblages is present, which evolves from orbitolinid-ooid dominated ramps in Sequence I-1, to a coral-stromatoporoid-microbialite dominated platform in Sequence I-2, to a rudist-dominated platform top in Sequence II-1, and finally to a second episode of orbitolinid-ooid dominated ramp system in Sequence II-2. There was an influx of siliciclastic sediments at the base and at the top of this succession. The detailed carbon-isotope curve measured along the Miravete section and covering almost the complete Aptian succession, is compared with published Aptian curves recorded in both basinal and carbonate platform settings along the northern and southern Neo Tethys margins. It shows that the Galve sub-basin curve represents all the major isotope excursions of the lower and upper Aptian, in a dominantly shallow-water succession. © The Geological Society of London 2010.

This is a review article on the fossil record of turtles in Colombia that includes: the early Cretaceous turtles from Zapatoca and Villa de Leyva localities; the giant turtles from the Paleocene Cerrejón and Calenturitas Coal Mines; the early Miocene, earliest record of Chelus from Pubenza, Cundinamarca; the early to late Miocene large podocnemids, chelids and testudinids from Castilletes, Alta Guajira and La Venta; and the small late Pleistocene kinosternids from Pubenza, Cundinamarca. I also discuss here the current gaps in the fossil record of tropical South American turtles, as well as the ongoing research and future projects to be developed in order to understand better the evolutionary history of Colombian turtles.

Cadena E.,Senckenberg Museum | Cadena E.,Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute | Jaramillo C.,Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Ameghiniana | Year: 2015

Here we describe the northernmost South American record of fossil turtles from the late early Miocene to early middle Miocene of the Castilletes Formation, on the Alta Guajira Peninsula, Cocinetas basin, Colombia. Turtles in the lower segment of the Castilletes Formation (c. 16.33 Ma) are pleurodires or side-necked turtles belonging to Chelus colombiana Wood, Chelus sp., and Podocnemididae incertae sedis, and cryptodires or hidden-necked turtles attributed to Chelonoidis sp., all of them characterized by the large size of their shells, 1 meter or more total length. The middle segment of the formation (c. 14 Ma) contains specimens of Podocnemididae incertae sedis and Chelonoidis sp. The turtle fauna from Castilletes share taxa with faunas from La Venta (middle-late Miocene of Colombia), Urumaco, and Western Amazonia (late Miocene from Venezuela, Brazil, and Peru); all of these records indicate a wider geographical distribution for podocnemidids, chelids, and testudinids of tropical South America during the early to middle Miocene. The large size of the fossils described here also confirms that gigantism was characteristic of South American tropical turtles during the early Miocene, a trend that lasted at least from the Paleocene to the Pliocene in different lineages.

Frmmel U.,TU Brandenburg | Lehmann W.,Attomol GmbH | Rdiger S.,TU Brandenburg | Bhm A.,TU Brandenburg | And 13 more authors.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology | Year: 2013

Intestinal colonization is influenced by the ability of the bacterium to inhabit a niche, which is based on the expression of colonization factors. Escherichia coli carries a broad range of virulence-associated genes (VAGs) which contribute to intestinal (inVAGs) and extraintestinal (exVAGs) infection. Moreover, initial evidence indicates that inVAGs and exVAGs support intestinal colonization. We developed new screening tools to genotypically and phenotypically characterize E. coli isolates originating in humans, domestic pigs, and 17 wild mammal and avian species. We analyzed 317 isolates for the occurrence of 44 VAGs using a novel multiplex PCR microbead assay (MPMA) and for adhesion to four epithelial cell lines using a new adhesion assay. We correlated data for the definition of new adhesion genes. inVAGs were identified only sporadically, particularly in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). The prevalence of exVAGs depended on isolation from a specific host. Human uropathogenic E. coli isolates carried exVAGs with the highest prevalence, followed by badger (Meles meles) and roe deer isolates. Adhesion was found to be very diverse. Adhesion was specific to cells, host, and tissue, though it was also unspecific. Occurrence of the following VAGs was associated with a higher rate of adhesion to one or more cell lines: afa-dra, daaD, tsh, vat, ibeA, fyuA, mat, sfa-foc, malX, pic, irp2, and papC. In summary, we established new screening methods which enabled us to characterize large numbers of E. coli isolates. We defined reservoirs for potential pathogenic E. coli. We also identified a very broad range of colonization strategies and defined potential new adhesion genes.

Early Eocene mammal faunas of North America were transformed by intercontinental dispersal at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, but lizard faunas from the earliest Eocene of the same area were dominated by immigrants from within the continent. A new lizard assemblage from the middle early Eocene of Wyoming sheds light on the longer-term history of dispersal in relation to climate change. The assemblage consists of three iguanid species (including two new species possibly closely related to living Anolis), Scincoideus, 'Palaeoxantusia', four anguids, two species of an undescribed new anguimorph clade, Provaranosaurus and a varanoid (cf. Saniwa). Most North American glyptosaurin glyptosaurines are now referred to Glyptosaurus, and Glyptosaurus hillsi is given a new diagnosis. Scincoideus is otherwise known only from the mid-Paleocene of Belgium, and the specimens described here are the first to document intercontinental dispersal to North America among lizards in the early Eocene. Like in mammals, some immigrant lizard lineages first appearing in the Bighorn Basin in the earliest Eocene persisted in the area long after the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, but other immigrants appear to have been restricted to the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. © The Palaeontological Association.

Smith K.T.,Senckenberg Museum
Bonner Zoologische Monographien | Year: 2011

North American species of the fossil lizard taxon Tinosaurus have been considered as indeterminate agamids or acrodontans for nearly a century. New material from the late Eocene Chadron Formation of North Dakota, USA, may provide the first glimpse of non-dental cranial elements of this taxon and so new information on the affinity of North American Tinosaurus. The ectopterygoid is most securely referred and shows a unique apomorphy of extant Leiolepis (butterfly lizards): a dual articulation of the pterygoid on the ectopterygoid. Other elements show a mosaic of sometimes conflicting apomorphies. Ultimately, the evidence provided by the new elements on the phylogenetic position of North American Tinosaurus is not strong, and some of them might pertain to a co-occurring iguanid lizard, Cypressaurus sp. MPH. Even if further work were to turn up more support for a union of Leiolepis and North American Tinosaurus, this would not necessarily apply to any nominal species of Tinosaurus outside of that continent. If Tinosaurus actually is related to Leiolepis, it constitutes another example of a modern tropical taxon with extratropical stem representatives in the greenhouse world of the Eocene.

News Article | September 16, 2016

Researchers took a 3D model of a small herbivorous dinosaur to the University of Bristol Botanic Garden to determine its likely habit based on its countershading camouflage(Credit: Jakob Vinther) Recent research has found dinosaurs may have cooed instead of roared, and the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex may have been even bigger than we imagine. Now, using a particularly well-preserved fossil with hints of skin pigmentation intact, researchers at the University of Bristol have managed to produce what they call "the most scientifically accurate life-size model of a dinosaur," and used it to infer the creature's likely habitat. An ancestor of Triceratops, the Psittacosaurus was a herbivore about the size of a labrador, which lived in Asia about 120 million years ago. The Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, is home to one of the best preserved Psittacosaurus fossils in the world, which still contains segments of skin, complete with what University of Bristol's Jakob Vinther realized were structures that would have carried melanin pigments. He was then able to map out the creature's skin pattern and found that it reflected a type of camouflage commonly used by animals today. "The fossil … preserves clear countershading, which has been shown to function by counter-illuminating shadows on a body, thus making an animal appear optically flat to the eye of the beholder," says Vinther. Out in the wild, animals and objects will usually be lit from above by the sun, resulting in them appearing lighter on top and darker underneath, which makes them appear solid and easy to spot. But animals with a countershading pattern invert this to avoid predators, being generally darker on their upper body with a lighter colored belly, which better hides them from view. To test how well a countershaded Psittacosaurus could hide and determine what kind of habitat it may have lived in, the researchers built a physical 3D model of the Psittacosaurus using the Senckenberg specimen as a base. They measured its bones and noted the pigmentation, and collaborated with palaeontologists to determine its muscle structure. Bob Nicholls, an artist who specializes in recreating anatomically-correct drawings and models of extinct animals, came on board to help build the Psittacosaurus as accurately as possible. "Our Psittacosaurus was reconstructed from the inside-out," says Nicholls. "There are thousands of scales, all different shapes and sizes, and many of them are only partially pigmented. It was a painstaking process but we now have the best suggestion as to what this dinosaur really looked like." The team then took the completed model out into the field to test its hide 'n' seek skills, along with a second version that was painted a solid gray color, to study how the shadows fell across it. Photographed under trees in the Bristol Botanic Garden, the Psittacosaurus seemed particularly well-suited to a world of diffuse lighting, like that filtering down through a canopy of trees. "By reconstructing a life-size 3D model, we were able to not only see how the patterns of shading changed over the body, but also that it matched the sort of camouflage which would work best in a forested environment," says Innes Cuthill, co-author of the study. "This demonstrates that fossil color patterns can provide not only a better picture of what extinct animals looked like, but they can also give new clues about extinct ecologies and habitats," confirms Vinther. "We were amazed to see how well these color patterns actually worked to camouflage this little dinosaur."

News Article | September 20, 2016

The dinosaur Psittacosaurus likely had light coloring on its underside and dark coloring on its topside. Tiny fossil clues left behind on an early Cretaceous-era dinosaur have revealed the dinosaur's original coloring, a new study finds. The 120-million-year-old dinosaur, a Triceratops relative known as Psittacosaurus, had a dark-colored backside and a light underside, along with a splash of spots and stripes on its body, including its back legs, the researchers said. This dark-on-top, light-on-bottom coloring scheme, known as countershading, is common among modern animals today, the researchers said. Creatures with countershading can use their coloring as camouflage when they're in a shadowy area, such as a forest. Given the Psittacosaurus's coloring, it's likely that the beast lived in an area with "diffuse illumination" such as a forest, the researchers wrote in the study. [Photos: Oldest Known Horned Dinosaur in North America] Psittacosaurus was one bizarre-looking beast: The horned creature looked like a cross between a porcupine and a lizard, with a parrot-like beak and a row of bristles sticking out from its tail. And that's not all — horns jutted out from its cheeks, and pointed claws adorned all four of its limbs, which were also decorated with spots and stripes. The remains of this 5-foot-long (1.5 meters) oddball, now called Psittacosaurus, were discovered in the late 1990s in Liaoning, China — an area famous for its well-preserved fossils of feathered dinosaurs. But it wasn't until 2009 that molecular paleobiologist Jakob Vinther and his colleagues came across the fossils at the Senckenberg Museum in Germany. When he saw the Psittacosaurus, Vinther noticed that "the color patterns were just so clear," and he decided that he needed to study them, because he realized that they could help paleontologists understand camouflage patterns and how they might reveal information about a dinosaur's habitat. To investigate the museum specimen, Vinther and his colleagues looked for evidence of pigment on the remarkably preserved Psittacosaurus's skeleton, which had extremely well preserved skin compressed into a film outlining the body and superimposed on the skeleton. They found "little oblate bodies, which resemble melanosomes" — small cell structures that hold melanin pigments that are found in feathers and skin. The newfound melanosomes were similar to those found in two other Psittacosaurus fossils, Vinther said. An analysis of their structure suggests that they would have given the dinosaur a brownish color, he added. The researchers also used polarized light photography to capture the dinosaur's color pattern left on the specimen, including its spots and stripes. Also, a technique called laser stimulated fluorescence made the scales and bristles fluoresce brightly, which "made their characterization easier," Vinther said. For instance, they found that the face was heavily pigmented, likely for display, he said. There was also a pigmented cloacal opening — the area in which animals defecate and females are inseminated, he said. After studying the melanosomes of Psittacosaurus, the researchers worked with paleoartist Bob Nicholls to create a life-size 3D model, complete with color. [In Photos: Wacky Fossil Animals from Jurassic China] Because of the model, "We were able to not only see how the patterns of shading changed over the body, but also that it matched the sort of camouflage which would work best in a forested environment," the study's senior author Innes Cuthill, a professor of behavioral ecology at the University of Bristol, said in a statement. Moreover, studies that look at the ancient geography and life of the Jehol biota, where the specimen was found, suggest that the area had lakes that were surrounded by a coniferous forest and a few deciduous plants, the researchers wrote in the study, which was published online today (Sept. 15) in the journal Current Biology. Such a forest would have provided shadows that could have provided a camouflage cover for the Psittacosaurus, the researchers said. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

A micro-CT image of the skull of a female Calumma vatosoa. The comparison with the skull of the male holotype allowed the scientists to assign the female specimen to its species. Credit: David Proetzel The first females of a scarcely known chameleon species from Northeast Madagascar have been described. Because of lack of genetic data, X-ray micro-computed tomography scans of the chameleon's head were used for species assignment. Regrettably, the habitats of this and many other chameleon species are highly threatened by the ongoing deforestation in Madagascar. The study is published in the open-access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution. Chameleons belong to the most popular animals of Madagascar and have been quite intensively studied in the past. However, many new species are still being discovered and described, and several species are only known by a single or a few specimens. Likewise, the chameleon species Calumma vatosoa from northeastern Madagascar was described in 2001 based on a single male. The identity of females of this species has been unclear until now. Recently, the PhD student David Proetzel of the herpetology section of the Zoologische Staatssammlung Munchen (ZSM), Germany, found specimens of female chameleons in the collection of the Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, that looked similar to Calumma vatosoa. The problem was, how to prove this? The specimens from Frankfurt were collected back in 1933 and therefore, the extraction of DNA for genetic analysis was not possible anymore. Researchers of the ZSM have been using X-ray micro-computed tomography scans for a few years to study the internal morphology of organisms in a non-invasive way. "With the help of Micro-CT you can investigate even the skeleton of very valuable samples like holotypes without destroying them," explains David Proetzel. "In chameleons the morphology of the skeleton, especially the skull, contains important characteristics that distinguish different species," explains the researcher. "Here, the comparison of the skulls of the male and the female showed that they belong to the same chameleon species. With the help of modern technology we could describe females of Calumma vatosoa for the first time, and add another distribution locality of this species." "The habitats of many chameleon species, and not only, are highly threatened by the ongoing deforestation in Madagascar and we need rapidly to expand our knowledge about the biodiversity, so that suitable conservation measures can be taken," he stresses. More information: David Prötzel et al. No longer single! Description of female Calumma vatosoa (Squamata, Chamaeleonidae) including a review of the species and its systematic position, Zoosystematics and Evolution (2016). DOI: 10.3897/zse.92.6464

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