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Showing blog posts tagged with "Invertebrates"

Invertebrate fossils

Mobile Ammonites Stayed Put at Plains Methane Seeps

Research posts

Research led by Museum scientists shows that ammonites, an extinct type of shelled mollusk that’s closely related to modern-day nautiluses and squids, made homes in the unique environments surrounding methane seeps in the seaway that once covered America’s Great Plains. The findings, recently published in the journal Geology, provide new insights into the mode of life and habitat of these ancient animals.

In the Black Hills region of South Dakota, researchers are investigating a 74-million-year-old mound of fossilized material where methane-rich fluids once migrated through the sediments onto the sea floor. When the face of this cliff recently slumped off, a wide variety of bivalves, sponges, corals, fish, crinoids, and, as recently documented, ammonites, were revealed.

Tags: Invertebrates

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Wasp Nest Project Weathers Storm

News posts

A brief, blustery storm blew across the Museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace Wednesday evening, taking with it most of the scalloped cardboard structure of a human-sized wasp nest under construction there since Monday. Three British TV hosts are to be filmed living in the nest this weekend as part of a new Nat Geo WILD series called “Live Like an Animal.”

The unexpected need to rebuild the nest or “envelope” provided an object lesson in actual wasp behavior.

“It is a fact that wasps repair the envelope if the damage to the nest is not too great, where ‘too great’ means something like the nest falls down,” says James M. Carpenter, entomologist and curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, who is working in consultation with the television crew. “I’ve done experiments in envelope removal in the field myself and seen it.”

Tags: Invertebrates

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Ammonites Dined on Plankton

News posts

Powerful synchrotron scans of Baculites fossils found on American Museum of Natural History expeditions to the Great Plains suggests that the extinct group of marine invertebrates to which they belong, the ammonites, had jaws and teeth adapted for eating small prey floating in the water. One ammonite also provided direct evidence of a planktonic diet because it died with its last meal in its mouth — tiny larval snails and crustacean bits. The detailed description of internal structure of ammonites, published by a Franco-American research team this week in Science, also provides new insights into why ammonites became extinct 65.5 million years ago when an asteroid impact led to the demise of the world’s nonavian dinosaurs and much of the plankton.

“I was astonished when I saw the teeth for the first time, and when I found the tiny plankton in the mouth,” says first author Isabelle Kruta of the Département Histoire de la Terre, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France. Kruta began the project as an Annette Kade fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. “For the first time we could observe these delicate, exceptionally well-preserved structures and obtain information on the ecology of these enigmatic animals.”

Tags: Invertebrates

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