Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Discover An Ancient Predator-Prey Relationship

Date:
July 13, 2006
Source:
College Of Wooster
Summary:
Could a predatory relationship between two ancient species reveal an early driving force of evolution? Absolutely, according to Mark Wilson, professor of geology at The College of Wooster, and Paul Taylor of The Natural History Museum in London.

Drilled hederellid tubes, each hole repaired with a patch.
Credit: Image courtesy of College Of Wooster

Could a predatory relationship between two ancient species reveal an early driving force of evolution? Absolutely, according to Mark Wilson, professor of geology at The College of Wooster, and Paul Taylor of The Natural History Museum in London.

In an article from the July issue of Geology, titled "Predatory Drill Holes and Partial Mortality in Devonian Colonial Metazoans," Wilson and Taylor explain how a 380-million-year-old animal, known as a hederellid, reacted to repeated attacks by an unknown assailant. Hederellids are extinct colonial animals that made skeletons of branching tubes. According to the two scientists, new evidence shows that hederellids responded to these predators, who drilled through their tubes (most likely with a radula-like device), by plugging the holes with skeletal patches secreted by internal tissues. They also closed off damaged sections with skeletal plugs.

"It's similar to the modular response in ships whose hulls have been punctured," says Wilson. "The hole can be repaired, or that area may be sealed off by bulkheads, and the ship, or in this case, the hederellid, continues to function."

Using an optical microscope, Wilson and Taylor examined approximately 350 hederellid colonies from paleontological collections of the Natural History Museum in London and one colony from the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology. What they discovered was that almost all of the drill holes were along the upward-facing surfaces of the tubes, meaning that the predator penetrated from above. Furthermore, it is clear that the holes were patched while the hederellid was alive.

"We are convinced that these are predatory drill holes," say the two scientists, "because they: (1) were excavated from the outside, as shown by the evidence of incomplete drill holes; (2) damaged the living hederellid as shown by the existence of patch-like repairs; (3) always penetrated directly into the skeletal tubes; and (4) showed a preference for particular hederellid species, despite the availability of other hederellid species encrusting the same substrates."

What makes this discovery noteworthy is the age of the fossils (in the Paleozoic era), which provides the earliest evidence of this type of predator-prey relationship. "The drill holes in Devonian hederellids are the earliest unambiguous examples of selective predation on a colonial metazoan, and these may be the most ancient examples of a prey organism successfully repairing drilling damage to its skeleton," say Wilson and Taylor.

"One of the primary reasons to study predation in the fossil record is to ascertain whether predators were a significant selective force in the evolution of prey organisms and vice versa," say the authors. "In this case, we see a successful response of a prey species to the attention of predators. This supports the hypothesis of 'escalation' in the evolution of marine animals. It is an early example of an arms race between a prey animal evolving better ways to defend itself against a predator that is improving its own offensive abilities."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by College Of Wooster. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

College Of Wooster. "Scientists Discover An Ancient Predator-Prey Relationship." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060712232259.htm>.
College Of Wooster. (2006, July 13). Scientists Discover An Ancient Predator-Prey Relationship. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060712232259.htm
College Of Wooster. "Scientists Discover An Ancient Predator-Prey Relationship." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060712232259.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins