HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
Fossil mayflies can be used to 'weigh' ancient atmospheres

SAN FRANCISCO -- Millions of years before humans invented the barometer to measure atmospheric pressure, a primitive winged insect was experimentally measuring air's density and leaving barometer readings in the fossil record, according to a Cornell University geologist.

Because that insect -- the common mayfly -- has persisted with little change since its appearance some 300 million years ago, scientists can use it to estimate the mass and composition of ancient atmospheres, John L. Cisne told the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) here today (Dec. 14, 1999).

"Mayflies work like little helicopters as they dance up and down in a mating swarm," Cisne said, explaining how measurements of a fossilized insect's body can reveal information about the air in which it once flew:

-- A mayfly's main flight muscle fills most of the pterothorax, the body's two wing-bearing segments.

-- The force that the muscle delivers to the wings is registered in the length of the pterothorax ("L" in the accompanying diagram).

-- The corresponding force that the wings exert on the air is registered in the length of the forewing (the longer of a mayfly's two paired wings, "R" in the diagram).

-- The air's density determines how large the forewing must be in relation to the pterothorax for a mayfly to be able to dance.

Citing evidence (plotted in the diagram) that the wing's relative size is practically the same in fossils from the Permian and Cretaceous periods and in modern forms, Cisne concludes: "The atmosphere's mass must have been practically the same for the last quarter-billion years, at least so far as mayflies can tell us."

Members of the insect order Ephemeroptera, with some 2,000 species, mayflies are found around the world in freshwater habitats. They are much beloved by fly fishermen, who know that a fresh hatch of mayflies means trout will be biting and deploy their artificial lures (called flies) accordingly. Maturing int
'"/>

Contact: Roger Segelken
hrs2@cornell.edu
607-255-9736
Cornell University News Service
13-Dec-1999


Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. Fossil genes reveal how life sheds form and function
2. Fossils reveal direct link between global warming and genetic diversity in wildlife
3. Methane and mini-horses: Fossils reveal effects of global warming
4. Fossil teeth reveal recent origin of human growth pattern
5. Fossil teeth of extinct North American rhinos reveal an aquatic lifestyle similar to modern hippos
6. Fossil plants ties to ancient carbon redefined
7. Fossilized Emu Eggshells Give Clues To 65,000 Years Of Vegetation And Climate Changes In Australia
8. Scientists Use Fossilized Emu Eggshells To Discern Changes In Vegetation, Provide Additional Evidence Of Human Impact On Australian Landscape
9. Fossil Footprints Show Foot-Movement Similarity In Dinosaurs And Birds
10. A Missing Link Fossil Adds Foliage To The Early Human Ancestor Family Tree
11. Important New Fossil Animal Discovered By Wits Scientists

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/2/2016)... 2016 Perimeter Surveillance & Detection ... Physical Infrastructure, Support & Other Service  The ... offers comprehensive analysis of the global Border Security ... revenues of $17.98 billion in 2016. Now: ... leader in software and hardware technologies for advanced video ...
(Date:5/16/2016)...   EyeLock LLC , a market leader of ... an IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, ... of embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s iris ... security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most ... EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a fast ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and ... global partnership that will provide end customers with ... banking and payment services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ... area for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, the only ... Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 to June ... scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the conference. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC machining centers ... The result of a collaboration among several companies with expertise in toolholding, cutting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 ReportsnReports.com ... report to its pharmaceuticals section with historic and ... and much more. Complete report on ... pages, profiling 15 companies and supported with 261 ... http://www.reportsnreports.com/reports/601420-global-cell-culture-media-industry-2016-market-research-report.html . The Global Cell ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Biomarkers: ... The global biomarkers market has grown ... market is expected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth ... billion in 2015 to $96.6 billion in 2020. ... 2020) are discussed. As well, new products approved in 2013 and ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: