News and Outreach Events 2016

Geological Sciences Professor Emeritus David Dilcher Co-Authored a paper in Proceedings B of The Royal Society Publishing

The evolutionary convergence of mid-Mesozoic lacewings and Cenozoic butterflies

Abstract: Mid-Mesozoic kalligrammatid lacewings (Neuroptera) entered the fossil record 165 million years ago (Ma) and disappeared 45 Ma later. Extant papilionoid butterflies (Lepidoptera) probably originated 80–70 Ma, long after kalligrammatids became extinct. Although poor preservation of kalligrammatid fossils previously prevented their detailed morphological and ecological characterization, we examine new, well-preserved, kalligrammatid fossils from Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous sites in northeastern China to unravel a surprising array of similar morphological and ecological features in these two, unrelated clades. We used polarized light and epifluorescence photography, SEM imaging, energy dispersive spectrometry and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry to examine kalligrammatid fossils and their environment. We mapped the evolution of specific traits onto a kalligrammatid phylogeny and discovered that these extinct lacewings convergently evolved wing eyespots that possibly contained melanin, and wing scales, elongate tubular proboscides, similar feeding styles, and seed–plant associations, similar to butterflies. Long-proboscid kalligrammatid lacewings lived in ecosystems with gymnosperm–insect relationships and likely accessed bennettitalean pollination drops and pollen. This system later was replaced by mid-Cretaceous angiosperms and their insect pollinators.
Link to the on-line paper | PDF

Chanh Kieu
Geosci faculty member Chanh Kieu’s research is featured in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

A recent research study by Chanh Kieu is now featured on the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (November issue, 2015). In this study, he was able to demonstrate for the first time the stable equilibrium of the hurricane maximum potential intensity (MPI) under the wind-induced surface heat exchange hypothesis. The MPI solution was first found in 1986 by Emanuel, but its stability has been a long conjecture since then. Chanh’s recent work on QJ tackles this stability issue directly, thus answering a standing question related to the MPI equilibrium. More details can be found in this link:

Recent publication names a new species after Professor Emeritus Don Hattin

A publication titled, "Origin and phylogeny of the Cretaceous thoracican cirripede family Stramentidae" by A.S. Gale, which appeared in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology, includes a new species named Leweslepas hattini sp. nov.

Abstract: A cladistic analysis of basal scalpellomorph cirripedes was undertaken in order to identify the phylogenetic position of the Stramentidae. This yielded a well-supported tree, in which the family is positioned crownwards of Archaeolepas, but basal to the families Scalpellidae and Zeugmatolepadidae. A new genus, Loriolepas, is described to accommodate some species previously referred to Archaeolepas. Basal scalpellomorphs display a remarkable change in shell mineralogy from calcium phosphate to calcium carbonate (Eolepas to Archaeolepas); the latter group is identified as a monophyletic clade, the Thoracicalcarea nov. A revised taxonomy of the predominantly Late Cretaceous cirripede family Stramentidae is presented. Stramentidae are subdivided into two subfamilies, Loriculinae subfam. nov., and Stramentinae, based on characters of tergum, carinolatus and peduncular plates. The former subfamily includes Loriculina Dames, 1885, Metaloriculinagen. nov. and, doubtfully, Blastolepas Drushchits and Zevina, 1969, and three new species are described, Loriculina ifrimae sp. nov., Metaloriculina stramentioides sp. nov and Metaloriculina norvicensis sp. nov. The Stramentinae include Leweslepas gen. nov., Stramentum Logan, 1897 and Parastramentum gen. nov. New species are Leweslepas hattini sp. nov, L. hauschkei sp. nov, L. wrightorum sp. nov, Parastramentum albertaensissp. nov, P. brydonei sp. nov, P. peakei sp. nov, Stramentum alekseevi sp. nov and S. praecursor sp. nov. Cladistic analysis of the Stramentidae, based on 25 characters, supports the monophyly of the family, but relationships between subfamilies and genera are poorly resolved. However, in north-west Europe there is an evolutionary morphocline, stratigraphically calibrated, from the early Cenomanian Leweslepas hauschkei gen. et sp. nov. through the middle Cenomanian Stramentum praecursor sp. nov. to the late Cenomanian–Turonian S. pulchellum. A split from this lineage is found in the Western Interior Basin of North America, and the early Turonian S. canadensis gave rise to the middle Turonian S. elegans, which lived epibenthically. Stramentum elegans gave rise to Parastramentum gen. nov. Here is a link to the paper (PDF)