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:4/19/2016)... -- The new GEZE SecuLogic access control ... system solution for all door components. It can be ... interface with integration authorization management system, and thus fulfills ... dimensions of the access control and the optimum integration ... considerable freedom of design with regard to the doors. ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  ,      ... gait biometrics market is expected to grow at ... Gait analysis generates multiple variables such ... compute factors that are not or cannot be ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... CHICAGO , April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians ... are setting a new clinical standard in telehealth ... By leveraging the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can ... weight, pulse and body mass index, and, when they ... quick and convenient visit to a local retail location ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... , May 26, 2016 Despite ... see value in this space. Today,s pre-market research on ActiveWallSt.com ... Radius Health Inc. (NASDAQ: RDUS ), Cerus Corp. ... ARWR ), and Five Prime Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... technical briefings at: http://www.activewallst.com/ ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... , ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... company, today announced several positive developments that position the Company for the future. ... of the transaction, Craig F. Kinghorn has been appointed Chairman of the Board, ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Lajollacooks4u has become a rising ... been rated one of its top attractions. Fortune 500 companies, such as Illumina, ... a unique and intimate team-building experience. , Each event kicks off with an olive ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... The ... fracture-specific plating options designed to address fractures of the distal tibia and fibula. ... The Acumed Ankle Plating System 3 is composed of seven plate families that ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: