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Science News

September 2012

Zoology Seminar

Fixed, free and fixed: the fickle phylogeny and fascinating ecology of extant Crinoidea


Charles G. MESSING
Oceanographic Center, Nova Southeastern University, Dania Beach, FL, USA


WEDNESDAY 19th September, 12pm

Neil Chalmers Science Seminar Room (DC.LG16)


Recent morphological, molecular and field research has substantially expanded and altered understanding of this least-known class of living echinoderms. New molecular phylogenies have confirmed some groups and upended the classification of others, e.g., some stalked taxa have apparently arisen from within the "unstalked" comatulid feather stars. Character analysis and taxonomy are both in for major overhauls. Field research is revealing often unexpected insights into crinoid biology, ecology and taphonomy, e.g., stalk growth rates of up to 17 cm/y, predation by other echinoderms, and completely novel morphologies. Although recent work has eliminated many synonyms, the number of taxa has continued to increase, e.g., the number of species in one deep-sea family tripled in the last 15 years, while one 10-day submersible expedition in the Bahamas in 2009 added four new crinoid species, increasing the tropical western Atlantic fauna by 7%. One of these exhibits a feature previously unknown in any crinoid, living or fossil. Though placed within a known genus, its unique character, perhaps the result of a mutation or duplication in a genetic control switch, may represent the potential foundation of a new lineage and a wellspring of future crinoid diversification.


For additional details on attending this or other seminars see


Recent Publications

Posted by C Lowry Sep 13, 2012

Publications for the previous 4 to 5 weeks (Search done 4-6th September)

Search on the basis of ‘Nat SAME Hist SAME Mus* SAME Lon* using Web of Science + TRING




Ferrat, M., WEISS, D.J., SPIRO, B. & Large, D. 2012. The inorganic geochemistry of a peat deposit on the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and insights into changing atmospheric circulation in central Asia during the Holocene. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 91: 7-31. 




Esteve, J., Sundberg, F.A., ZAMORA, S. & Gozalo, R. 2012. A new Alokistocaridae Resser, 1939 (Trilobita) from the middle Cambrian of Spain. Geobios, 45(3): 275-283. 

SENDINO, C., TAYLOR, P.D. & Van Iten, H. 2012. Metaconularia? pyramidata (Bronn, 1837): a scyphozoan from the Ordovician of Normandy, France, recorded for the first time as a reworked fossil in the Triassic of Devon, England. Geodiversitas, 34(2): 283-296. 

SOOKIAS, R.B., Benson, R.B.J. & Butler, R.J. 2012. Biology, not environment, drives major patterns in maximum tetrapod body size through time. Biology Letters, 8(4): 674-677. 

Womack, T., Slater, B.J., STEVENS, L.G., Anderson, L.I. & Hilton, J. 2012. First cladoceran fossils from the Carboniferous: Palaeoenvironmental and evolutionary implications. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 344: 39-48. 

ZAMORA, S. 2012. The first Furongian (late Cambrian) echinoderm from the British Isles. Geological Magazine, 149(5): 940-943. 


MORLOK, A., Koike, C., Tomeoka, K., Mason, A., Lisse, C., Anand, M. & Grady, M. 2012. Mid-infrared spectra of differentiated meteorites (achondrites): Comparison with astronomical observations of dust in protoplanetary and debris disks. Icarus, 219(1): 48-56. 



Bridgland, D.R., Westaway, R., Abou Romieh, M., Candy, I., Daoud, M., Demir, T., Galiatsatos, N., Schreve, D.C., Seyrek, A., Shaw, A.D., White, T.S. & WHITTAKER, J. 2012. The River Orontes in Syria and Turkey: Downstream variation of fluvial archives in different crustal blocks. Geomorphology, 165: 25-49. 






BOXSHALL, G.A. & Jaume, D. 2012. Centropages orsinii Giesbrecht, 1889 (Copepoda, Calanoida, Centropagidae) from an anchialine cave in Vanuatu. Zoosystema, 34(2): 377-387. 

Rugenski, A.T., MURRIA, C. & Whiles, M.R. 2012. Tadpoles enhance microbial activity and leaf decomposition in a neotropical headwater stream. Freshwater Biology, 57(9): 1904-1913. 




RINKEL, B.E., Hayes, P., GUEIDAN, C. & BRODIE, J. 2012. A molecular phylogeny of acrochaete and other endophytic green algae (Ulvales, Chlorophyta). Journal of Phycology, 48(4): 1020-1027. 



Jia, W.Z., Yan, H.B., Lou, Z.Z., Ni, X.W., Dyachenko, V., Li, H.M. & LITTLEWOOD, D.T.J. 2012. Mitochondrial genes and genomes support a cryptic species of tapeworm within Taenia taeniaeformis. Acta Tropica, 123(3): 154-163.  doi:10.1016/j.actatropica.2012.04.006. 

WAESCHENBACH, A., Porter, J.S. & Hughes, R.N. 2012. Molecular variability in the Celleporella hyalina (Bryozoa; Cheilostomata) species complex: evidence for cryptic speciation from complete mitochondrial genomes. Molecular Biology Reports, 39(9): 8601-8614. 



ANGUS, R.B., Edwards, D.B., Luque, C.G. & Labrada, L. 2012. A chromosomal investigation of some European Leiodidae (Coleoptera), with particular focus on Spanish subterranean Leptodirini. Comparative Cytogenetics, 6(2): 127-139. 

Beck, J., HOLLOWAY, J.D., Khen, C.V. & KITCHING, I.J. 2012. Diversity Partitioning Confirms the Importance of Beta Components in Tropical Rainforest Lepidoptera. American Naturalist, 180(3): E64-E74. 

CAMERON, R.A.D., Pokryszko, B.M. & Martins, A.M.F. 2012. Land snail faunas on Santa Maria (Azores): local diversity in an old, isolated and disturbed island. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 78: 268-274. 

Fikacek, M., Prokin, A., ANGUS, R.B., Ponomarenko, A., Yue, Y.L., Ren, D. & Prokop, J. 2012. Revision of Mesozoic fossils of the helophorid lineage of the superfamily Hydrophiloidea (Coleoptera: Polyphaga). Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae, 52(1): 89-127. 

Han, H.X., GALSWORTHY, A.C. & Xue, D. 2012. The Comibaenini of China (Geometridae: Geometrinae), with a review of the tribe. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 165(4): 723-772. 

Johnson, S.D., Jurgens, A. & KUHLMANN, M. 2012. Pollination function transferred: modified tepals of Albuca (Hyacinthaceae) serve as secondary stigmas. Annals of Botany, 110(3): 565-572.

SIMONSEN, T.J., de Jong, R., Heikkila, M. & Kaila, L. 2012. Butterfly morphology in a molecular age - Does it still matter in butterfly systematics? Arthropod Structure & Development, 41(4): 307-322.



BRITZ, R., Ali, A. & Raghavan, R. 2012. Pangio ammophila, a new species of eel-loach from Karnataka, southern India (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 23(1): 45-50. 

Dang, F., RAINBOW, P.S. & Wang, W.X. 2012. Dietary toxicity of field-contaminated invertebrates to marine fish: Effects of metal doses and subcellular metal distribution. Aquatic Toxicology, 120: 1-10.





Ferrat, M., WEISS, D.J., SPIRO, B. & Large, D. 2012. The inorganic geochemistry of a peat deposit on the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and insights into changing atmospheric circulation in central Asia during the Holocene. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 91: 7-31. 


Turnhout, E., BLOOMFIELD, B., Hulme, M., Vogel, J. & Wynne, B. 2012. Listen to the voices of experience. Nature, 488(7412): 454-455. 




Diamond Jubilee


60th anniversary meeting of the British Phycological Society

Wednesday the 12th September 2012

Natural History Museum

Flett Theatre

Brit Phy.bmp



There is a varied and exciting programme with speakers who will demonstrate the immense important of algae and their influence of life on Earth.   The impact they are having today will also be explored in a live debate on the use of algae as a source of biofuels, where you will be able to join in.  The programme will also show how algae have provided inspiration for art and will include an exhibition of the winning and short-listed photographs of the Hilda Canter-Lund award.  Phycology would not be phycology without its phycologists and this will be reflected through the hidden truth of the phycology of Kent and phycologists in conversation. 







10.15               Refreshments


10.45               Launch


11.00               Prof. Paul Falkowski (Rutgers University)

                       The role of algae in the global cycle of carbon.


12.00               Prof. John Allen (Queen Mary, University of London)

                       Photosynthesis requires cytoplasmic inheritance.


13.00               Lunch


14.00               Prof. Joanna Verran (Manchester Metropolitan University)

                       Algal aesthetics: encouraging engagement through art.


14.30               Applied Phycology Debate

                       Prof. Mike Cowling (The Crown Estate) and Steve Skill (Plymouth

                         Marine Laboratory)

                       Are macroalgae or microalgae the biofuels of the future?


15.30               Tea


16.00               Ian Tittley (Natural History Museum)

                       Four centuries of seaweed study in Kent: the hidden truth.


16.30               An illustrated history of the Society and its people:

                       famous members in conversation.





To Register,  and for further details and abstracts use the following link:



Please note that everyone is welcome.  You do not have to be a member of the British Phycological Society to attend.


Special Earth Science Department Seminar


Speculations on Two Open Problems in Morphometrics:

Random Walks and Biomechanical Strain Analysis


Prof. Fred L. Bookstein*


Department of Anthropology

University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria


Department of Statistics

University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA



20 September 2012, 16:00

Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London



The example of morphometrics shows us that a continual refocusing of the empirical context of a method

may sometimes be a creative intellectual act, extending and clarifying the range of domains to which the

biometric imagination can contribute. In this presentation, I sketch two little-explored arcs of morphometric’s

conceptual boundary along which it may be just the right time for a collective exploration of new possibilities

with new colleagues.


1. Random Walk as a Null Model for Morphometric Time-Series (Paleobiology, in press)

The more interesting the process that creates your principal components, the less likely that their scatters will

look like the ellipsoids the Gaussian model has induced you to expect. Since evolution is our most interesting

biological process, principal components may be particularly ripe for an alternative interpretation when

applied to time series of fossil forms.


2. Form and Function in the 21st Century: The Relation Between Geometric Morphometrics and Finite-

Element Analysis (Biological Theory, in press)

Material deformations shatter the overwhelming formal symmetries of the Procrustes approach to biometric

shape comparison. Hence principal components of Procrustes shape coordinates are not an automatic

machine for the understanding of biomechanical strain or finite-element analysis. This presentation will

diagnose the problem and offer a possibly helpful workaround.




For additional details on attending this or other seminars see


* Biometer, statistical scientist and applied mathematician, F. L. Bookstein, along with important contributions by David

Kendall, Colin Goodall, Kanti Mardia and others, was the principal creator of geometric morphometrics, a new specialty

that combines the disciplines of geometry, computer science, and mathematical biology with multivariate statistics to

create tools and techniques to support the analysis of biological shape differences. Bookstein’s many conceptual and

computational innovations are being applied broadly today across evolutionary and developmental biology, paleontology,

anthropology, computer vision, medical imaging, and cognitive neuroimaging.


Palaeontology Seminar


The evolution of quadrupedalism in ornithischian dinosaurs


Dr Susannah C. R. Maidment,

Department of Earth Science and Engineering,

Imperial College



Thursday 6th September
Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, DC2, 15:00




The most primitive ornithischian (bird-hipped) dinosaurs were bipedal (two-legged), but they radiated into a diversity of quadrupedal (four-legged) and bipedal forms. Quadrupedalism evolved in three major ornithischian lineages independently. Outside of Ornithischia, the reversion to quadrupedalism from bipedal ancestors has only occurred on two other occasions in the whole of tetrapod evolution (in the silesaurid dinosauriforms and the sauropodomorph saurischian dinosaurs); thus examination of the convergent acquisition of this stance in ornithischians is warranted. We use a diversity of techniques to investigate how and why multiple clades of ornithischian dinosaurs evolved quadrupedal locomotion. Muscle reconstruction suggests that quadrupedal ornithischians adopted a variety of different stances. Disparity in limb scaling between clades could be due to clade-specific behaviours. Anatomical features related to the evolution of quadrupedalism do not appear to have been acquired in the same order in all lineages, and mosaic character evolution in ornithopods suggests multiple independent acquisitions of quadrupedalism in the clade. Moment arm modelling suggests a more columnar hind limb in stance phase and loss of femoral rotation as a form of lateral limb support in quadrupedal ornithischians, and a wide-gauged stance in thyreophorans and ceratopsids. Centre of mass modelling indicates that ceratopsids may have evolved quadrupedalism due to the development of large heads, frills and horns as display structures. However, thyreophorans did not become quadrupedal as a result of development of hypertrophied dermal armour. Overall, quadrupedal ornithischians display a previously unrealised diversity in stance and locomotor mode, and do not appear to have been significantly constrained in their style of locomotion by their bipedal ancestry.




For additional details on attending this or other seminars see