The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Smithsonian scientist breaks new ground confirming marine species are what they eat
Kelley’s new framework for understanding convergent evolution in marine mammals and reptiles could provide insights into the diets of extinct creatures that ruled the seas during the age of the dinosaurs, like this Tylosaurus. The research team used a novel, quantitative approach to compare dietary data of living marine species with measurements of their skulls and teeth and found that distantly related animals with shared diets evolved similar adaptations to successfully live in the sea. Photo by Neil Kelley, Smithsonian Institution.

WASHINGTON, DC.- Scientists have long hypothesized that distinct species such as whales, sea turtles and seals independently evolved similar physical traits to adapt to life in the ocean. This process, known as convergent evolution, has generally been supported using qualitative, visual comparisons of bones and fossils. For the first time, a team of scientists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and University of California at Davis used dietary data of living marine species to develop a comprehensive ecological perspective of their evolutionary origins.

The researchers developed a novel, quantitative approach to classify diets of marine mammals and reptiles and compared them with measurements of each species’ teeth and skulls. They found that distantly related animals with shared diets evolved similar adaptations to successfully live in the sea. Details from this study are published in the Jan. 28 edition of the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

“This new framework for understanding convergent evolution could shed light on the biology of marine species that are a part of museum collections but rarely observed feeding in the wild, like beaked whales and elephant seals,” said Neil Kelley, a Peter Buck post-doctoral researcher in the museum’s department of paleobiology and lead author in the study. “It may also provide insights into the diets of extinct creatures that ruled the seas during the age of the dinosaurs.”

Many of the world’s most iconic marine species share an evolutionary past that is firmly rooted on land. Today’s populations of marine mammals and reptiles all descended from separate groups of terrestrial vertebrates that convergently evolved to thrive in aquatic environments over the course of 350 million years. Each of these transitions from land to sea resulted in major, similar changes in anatomy and ecology as different species of animals adapted to moving, feeding and reproducing in the water.

The research team analyzed dietary data for 69 marine mammals and reptiles and grouped them into categories based on their primary food sources. They then conducted an extensive survey of marine skulls and teeth from the same species using collections in the Smithsonian and other museums to better understand how separate groups of animals have physically adapted to feeding in the ocean. After comparing the two data sets, they found that different species evolved similar solutions to allow feeding on particular types of food, including fish, squid, shellfish and ocean plants. They discovered that long jaws with numerous teeth have evolved in species that feed on fast swimming fish, while shellfish and marine plant-eaters have evolved shorter and deeper skulls with strong jaws and teeth for crushing their food. They also showed that within individual groups, like seals or whales, different species have evolved to feed on different types of food, allowing them to diversify in the oceans. For example, crabeater seals in Antarctica have specialized teeth for straining krill, while closely related leopard seals have evolved massive skulls and sharp teeth allowing them to feed on a wide range of prey including fish, crustaceans and penguins.

The team’s research was made possible with the support of museum collections at the National Museum of Natural History. The museum’s collection of marine mammals is the largest in the world, consisting of more than 8,900 specimens of cetaceans (whales and dolphins), 3,200 specimens of pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and walruses) and 380 specimens of sirenians (sea cows). These fossils and bones provide the foundation for tracing the life histories of species that have adapted to the ocean’s fluctuating ecosystems over time. Future studies may apply the data from this research to anticipate how marine species may continue to physically adapt as they face ecological pressures from climate change, ocean acidification and overfishing.

Today's News

January 31, 2015

Battlefield souvenirs go on display as Windsor Castle marks 200th anniversary of Waterloo

The Andy Warhol Museum announces 'Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent'

Smithsonian scientist breaks new ground confirming marine species are what they eat

Now on view: Los Angeles County Museum of Art's new Vicente Albán paintings from Ecuador Online gallery explains the importance of Battle of Waterloo in European history

'The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America' opens at the Portland Museum of Art

Rare Silver Dollar kept as a talisman from D-Day to Berlin makes $437,100 at Spink USA

Three French tourists arrested for nude photos at Cambodia's Angkor temple

Nasher Sculpture Center opens a retrospective of American sculptor Melvin Edwards

Popular rooms at the National Gallery in London to undergo a major renovation

MoMA PS1 exhibits Wael Shawky's epic video trilogy recounting the history of The Crusades

America's oldest public art museum presents first exhibition exploring Coney Island through visual art

New commission by internationally acclaimed artist Ursula von Rydingsvard at Princeton University

Contemporary masters featured in Swann Galleries' Fine Photographs Auction

Reynolda House announces $5 million campaign with leadership gift from Reynolds American Foundation

Han Nefkens shares Viktor & Rolf's latest collection with the public

Nova Scotia painting to hang in Canada's High Commission in London

Art Gallery of Ontario offers rare glimpse of life inside a Second World War Jewish ghetto

Columbus Museum of Art welcomes new curatorial staff

Emily Orr joins Cooper Hewitt as Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Design

France's de Gaulle enshrined in Chinese national museum

Iraqi artist aims kick at IS jihadists

Britain pays tribute to Churchill as legacy lives on

Beirut is the beacon for designer Elie Saab

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Original 'Star Wars' creators lift lid on special effects challenges

2.- Lost '$170 million Caravaggio' snapped up before French auction

3.- Mansell's 'Red Five' on pole for Bonhams sale

4.- Impressionism's 'forgotten woman' shines in new Paris show

5.- Sotheby's to auction the best-surviving NASA videotape recordings of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

6.- Exhibition explores Dutch and Spanish painting of the 16th and 17th centuries

7.- Cyprus discovers 'first undisturbed Roman shipwreck'

8.- Sotheby's unveils 'Treasures from Chatsworth' with Leonardo Da Vinci drawing, Lucian Freud portraits, and more

9.- Infamous botched art restoration in Spain gets makeover

10.- 1958 Gibson Flying V Korina played by Dave Davies to grab center stage in Heritage Auctions' sale

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful