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Paleontologists discover identical evolution of isolated organisms


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Paleontologists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the University of Calgary in Canada have provided new proof of parallel evolution: conodonts, early vertebrates from the Permian period, adapted to new habitats in almost identical ways despite living in different geographical regions. The researchers were able to prove that this was the case using fossil teeth found in different geographical locations.

Identical evolution of isolated organisms

A scanning electron microscope image of a dental platform element from the Conodont genus Sweetognathus, collected in Wyoming, USA. This specimen is between 293.7 and 294.9 years old. Credit: David Terrill, Charles Henderson

Not going to lie...I misread the genus as "sweathog"

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Interesting read.


Although the researchers state that we have good knowledge of tectonics over the history of the Earth, can they rule out the possibility that these marine environments were completely isolated from each other, especially considering the lengthy time period covered in the studied conodonts? One possibility is that Pangaea extended well into cold-water latitudes and precluded the movement of various organisms between various warm-water environments. Still, we don't know enough about conodont biology and the details of Permian geography to be sure. One undetectable Bosporus-like seaway could have allowed for migration of a cosmopolitan organism such as a conodont, and could 'contaminate' any potential indication of parallel evolution.

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