Permian Extinction Recovery Story Stretches Credibility

first_imgIt goes without saying that Darwin’s theory fits hand in glove with the geological dating scheme, but how reliable is the latter?  The textbook age names – Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Eocene and all the rest – have taken on their own life as assumed truths.  Every once in awhile, though, papers are published that require heavy doses of credulity to keep the scheme intact.  The Permian extinction is a case in point.  The textbook story is that 80 to 85 percent of marine organisms perished at the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB).  A new kink in the story requires believing that cephalopods, those most affected by the crisis, recovered spectacularly within one million years of the extinction, but everything else took five times as long, as measured by species diversity.    Charles Marshall, the “Master of Disaster” of the Harvard Museum who tackled the Cambrian explosion problem in 2006 by saying that animals evolved because they evolved (04/23/2006), tackled the Permian extinction with David Jacobs of UCLA in Science last week.1  They were commenting on a paper in the same issue by Brayard et al who presented evidence that ammonites (a kind of shelled squid) recovered much faster than everything else.2  The two papers invoked copious amounts of hand-waving to explain the evolutionary difference.  Many statements amount to references to the Stuff Happens Law (i.e., the negation of explanation; see 09/15/2008 commentary).  For instance, Brayard et al entitled their paper, “Good Genes and Good Luck.”  Here are some example quotes from Marshall and Jacobs that cast doubt on scientific confidence in the Permian extinction story, both its causes and its effects:Two hundred and fifty-two million years ago, the Paleozoic Era came to a cataclysmic close with the end-Permian mass extinction, when as much as 85% of readily fossilizable marine species became extinct.  It took 5 million years for the biosphere to begin to recover from the event.  At least this has been the conventional view.  However, on page 1118 of this issue, Brayard et al. show that ceratitid ammonoids (see the figure, panel A) recovered much faster than did most other marine groups, attaining considerable diversity just 1 million years after the mass extinction.  Moreover, these mollusks reached a peak in their diversity at the end of the Early Triassic, when the diversity and body size of most other groups (particularly bivalves and gastropods) was still depressed.The cause of the end-Permian mass extinction has long been controversial.  There is increasing agreement that toxic waters decimated bottom communities in shallow waters, but it remains unclear whether the kill mechanism was hypercapnia (high CO2 levels), euxinia (anoxic water infused with H2S), or something else.  There is even less agreement on what might have caused the toxicity.Whatever the ultimate cause(s) of the extinction, the proximal cause appears to have been the inability of many species to handle the physiological demands of a changed ocean chemistry.  Evidence that conditions remained difficult for 5 million years after the extinctions comes mainly from the observation that the diversity and size of fossil bivalves and gastropods remained low, indicating stressed conditions.  Furthermore, the carbon cycle was unusually volatile, although the exact meaning of this volatility is not understood.The ammonoid data reported by Brayard et al. suggest a much more rapid recovery, at least for part of the biosphere.  Unlike the bottom-dwelling gastropods and bivalves, ammonoids live in the water column.  Thus, Brayard et al.‘s study suggests that conditions in the water column were better than those on the bottom.  Or does it?To better understand the meaning of Brayard et al.’s data, we need to know more about the biology and physiological tolerances of ammonoids in general, and of ceratitids in particular.These species lie deep in the evolutionary trees of living coleoids and living cephalopods, respectively, suggesting that a tolerance for low oxygen was ancestral for living cephalopods.Their Perspectives article did little more than to suggest this and that, and then to say more work needs to be done.  How about the other paper?  Did Brayard et al have anything more solid to lean on?  Keep in mind that classic Darwinian evolution explains diversification as gradual and continuous.One problem has been a lack of absolute age calibration of evolutionary trends across the PTB.It has usually been assumed that the end-Permian mass extinction affected ecological assemblages so deeply that the postcrisis biotic recovery spanned the entire Early Triassic [~5 million years (My)], if not more.The Triassic part of the time series consists of four successive diversity oscillations of declining magnitude, probably primarily shaped by global climatic and oceanographic changes.In the first oscillation…only 1 to 2 My after the PTB, based on the available radiometric ages and associated uncertainties—ammonoid diversity reached values equal to, if not higher than, those for the Permian (~85 sampled genera) and then were followed by still higher values …. This late Early Triassic generic richness is unsurpassed during the Middle and Late Triassic, where diversity oscillated around an average value…close to the Middle Permian maximum.  This rapid recovery less than 2 My after a mass extinction is also seen for Early Jurassic ammonoids.The Early Triassic rapid ammonoid diversification diverges from delayed recovery after the PTB suggested for many benthic groups…. Apparently, recovery rates strongly varied across marine clades, and ammonoids boomed well before the oceanic realm returned to a long-term steady state.Extreme contraction of survivorship and prenascence contour lines is diagnostic of high evolutionary rates, as echoed by the simultaneously high numbers and rates of Early Triassic originations and extinctions (Fig. 3).Ammonoid diversification during the Early Triassic produced more than 200 genera in less than ~5 My and was accompanied by a progressive change from cosmopolitan to latitudinally restricted distributions of genera.This trend was not a gradual, continuous, and smooth one.How did these cephalopods flourish in the presumably unstable and harsh environmental conditions prevailing at that time?  The same question applies to conodonts, whose Early Triassic diversity dynamics tend to parallel that of ammonoids.Ammonoids are morphologically and taxonomically so diverse that it is likely that they occupied a great variety of niches and exploited various food resources.  Their high diversity and abundance suggest that diversified and abundant food resources were already available less than 2 My after the PTB.  Consequently, even if Early Triassic trophic webs were possibly less complex than Permian and Middle-Late Triassic ones, they were far from devastated.  At least some sizeable, while still unknown, primary production made it possible for these two clades to diversify profusely and rapidly despite short-term fluctuations of environmental conditions.The Early-Middle Triassic transition was again marked by a severe drop in ammonoid diversity.  In this case, a fall in global sea level is implicated.In addition, the empirical (log) richness-rates relationships (table S4) illustrate a possible niche incumbency effect.  This hypothesis, which predicts that richness and extinction rates are independent, allows the estimate of an average steady-state generic niche saturation level of ~85% under the hierarchical model, compatible with species niche saturation levels previously published for various clades of marine organisms.Numerous Lazarus taxa3 among benthic and pelagic mollusks reappear during the Smithian.Coupled with the Triassic ammonoid nondelayed diversity dynamics evidenced here, this suggests that complex trophic webs based on abundant and diversified primary producers were already functioning less than 2 My after the PTB and opens the possibility that heterotrophic taxa other than ammonoids also rapidly recovered.This phased scenario for the Triassic biotic recovery accounts well for its generally accepted delayed character, which may reflect still inadequate sampling and time resolution and/or biased diversity estimates due to the lack of sampling standardization in the first million years after the PTB.Recoveries obviously show environment- and clade-specific dynamics.  Nevertheless, our results indicate that the time duration of the post-PTB recovery is likely overestimated, at least for some marine taxa.It should be noted that the statistics of biodiversity on which they relied for their graphs and charts depend heavily on sampling – a human enterprise.  The fossils, in other words, do not speak for themselves.  This was clear from several paragraphs in the paper that explained why Brayard et al leaned on some data sets but rejected others.1.  Charles R. Marshall and David K. Jacobs, “Paleontology: Flourishing After the End-Permian Mass Extinction,” Science, 28 August 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5944, pp. 1079-1080, DOI: 10.1126/science.1178325.2.  Brayard, Escargue, Bucher, Monnet, Br�hwiler, Goudemand, Galfetti, and Guex, “Good Genes and Good Luck: Ammonoid Diversity and the End-Permian Mass Extinction,” Science,28 August 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5944, pp. 1118-1121, DOI: 10.1126/science.1174638.3.  Lazarus taxa: resurrected extinct groups or “living fossils” – see 03/10/2006 and 12/04/2007.Who else but CEH is revealing, line by line, in detail, the arbitrariness of story generation in the evolutionary scientific literature?  The Framework is never called into question, no matter how many anomalies are found, and no matter how many suspensions of disbelief are required.  The Stuff Happens Law is everywhere – “good genes and good luck.”  There is no pattern or sense to any of this.  Here is the story in a nutshell:Through causes we don’t understand, something happened at some uncalibrated time, and, if our sampling methods are not completely biased, some groups of animals, based on some method of deciding what constitutes a species or genus among extinct animals we cannot observe except by their shells, using controversial measures of classification and sampling, recovered much faster than others, through reasons we also don’t understand, perhaps due to their level in the water column, or climate, or availability of food, or tolerance to carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, or a number of other possibilities.  This points out that their evolutionary potential, whatever that means, was greater than that of shellfish, because of mechanisms not well understood, i.e., some sizeable, while still unknown, primary production that made it possible for ammonites and conodonts to diversify profusely and rapidly compared to their depressed contemporaries, despite rapid fluctuations and oscillations in their environment, illustrating their ability to occupy a variety of ecological niches, though stressed by the unknown extinction event of unknown duration or cause–perhaps volcanoes, which surprisingly killed almost everything on the sea floor (which one would think more robust against calamities in the climate or on the surface, but whatever).  Yet some of them, nevertheless, somehow, resurrected like Lazarus (but we don’t want this to get anyone started thinking about the Bible or miracles, which is forbidden; only Darwinian miracles are allowed).  So whatever the cause, or causes, or no cause at all, while all we have is confusing data and a Framework to put it in bequeathed to us by Saint Lyell, we at least came up with a “scenario”, illustrated with a few graphs and charts and math, that was good enough to get published by the Keepers of the Darwinian Flame in Science, even though we diverged a little bit from Saint Darwin’s concept of gradual, smooth, continuous change, because we know his heirs have become more tolerant of unexplained hiccups in the geological record, or the biological record, or in evolutionary theory itself, because of the need to keep Evolution reigning supreme in the public eye, by sounding sophisticated with terms like “diversity dynamics” (which we don’t have to define or explain), but that doesn’t matter because it sounds scholarly, and helps to keep at bay the constant threat from those rascally Creationists, who might expose our methods and threaten our jobs and funding unless we present a unified front and an air of confidence in the journals and cooperative science news outlets.Abbreviated version:  Something happened.  We’re not sure what, when, or how, or why, or even if something happened at all, but some day we may figure it out.  Praise Darwin for modern science!Welcome to modern evolutionary biology.  Stuff happens.  Evolution happens.  Diversity happens.  Niches magically get filled.  Rates of change vary with no known reason.  Facts are convenient props, but keeping the Framework intact while weaving more intricate stories is the name of the game.  Don’t even THINK about criticizing us.  We are scientists.  Don’t even think.(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

2017 Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour – Day 2

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Presented by AgXploreSee Day 1 results from the Farm Journal Midwest Crop TourSee Day 3 results from the Farm Journal Midwest Crop TourSee Day 4 results from the Farm Journal Midwest Crop TourFinal results for the entire eastern leg of this year’s Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour for Indiana.Corn – 171.23 Bushels to the Acre Soybeans – 1168.78 Pods in a 3 x 3 foot square Today is my annual ride along with Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete. We have gotten to know each other pretty well over the past 6 years and he does an incredible job making sure this Eastern Leg of the Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour goes off without a hitch. We have had many one-of-a-kind experiences over the year, including a great hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint (that I hope is still open and on our route today), doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in the middle of a corn field and almost getting killed by a train. Okay, so it wasn’t really that close but the story gets better every year. We have scouts from England and Rotterdam with us today. 3:25 p.m.This is our last stop of the day in McLean County, Illinois and this should be some of the best numbers we will see on the tour because the soil is prime here, but those high numbers will not be seen this year. The ear count was small and the ears continue to shorter than what we have seen earlier in the day. As you can see by the picture, this field was crispy and firing heavily well inside of the field. Our yield estimate is only at 146 bushels. Soybeans here were very level and looked like carpet. Very clean and very healthy. This pod county was 1248, which was just below our route’s Illinois average.McClean County, IllinoisMcClean County, IllinoisMcClean County, Illinois2:13 p.m.Livingston County, Illnois for this stop and ear population was very low here, but the outstanding ears will give us a yield of 186 for this field. Soybeans were very healthy in the field across the road and each plant had a least 50 pods on them. Pod count here was 1344 in a 3 foot square.Livingston County, IlinoisLivingston County, Ilinois1:45 p.m.After a great lunch at The Humble Hog in Paxton, Illinois we are back at it in Ford County, Illinois where we saw our first field dicamba drift damage. It was mostly on the outer rows and the beans are looking alright for now. Our pod count in a 3 x 3 foot square was 1656. The corn was pretty standard for what we have seen today, with little disease pressure. Our samples had a 14 around average for our yield calc was 161. Ford County, IllinoisFord County, IllinoisFord County, Illinois12:10 p.m.We are seeing more evidence of a dry growing season here. Zipper ears and a low population will hurt this field this year. There is a heavy aphid infestation here as well as seen on one of the scout’s shirt. This farmer replanted in some areas of the field we were in but none of our sample ears came from those later planted stalks. Our yield number here is 142. Soybeans were podded well and 1194 is our 3 x 3 pod count here.Vermillion County, IllinoisVermillion County, Illinois11:34 a.m.We wondered if this corn was firing badly or just wrapping up production and the answer was a little of both. We talked with some area growers here in Iroquois County, Illinois and the big rain they got over the last day was too much too late. Corn here is showing what they told us. Things were dry here early in the growing season and corn and soybeans. This caused corn ear pops to be very low and even though these ears were impressive, there just weren’t enough of them here. Our yield for this corn was 92 bushels to the acre. Soybeans were pretty decent and the plants had many pods on a bushy stalk. I did notice quite a few 2-bean pods which would also be due to lack of rain during a critical part of the growing stage. Our pod count was 1382 in a 3 foot square.Iroquois County, IllinoisIroquois County, IllinoisIroquois County, IllinoisIroquois County, Illinois10:25 a.m.This will be our last county in Indiana and we will do two stops here in Warren County. A ton of rain has fallen here as we are seeing standing water everywhere. Hearing up to 5 inches in the last 24 hours in this area. This field gave us a run for our money with 15 inch rows which, on a rainy day with muddy shoes is a whole lot of fun. Ear count was solid for narrow rows and this field was close to denting. This will be the highest yield I have seen on tour at 226 bushels per acre. Soybeans were better here than we have seen all day. Podded early and often here and the rain we are seeing today will only benefit. Our 3 x 3 square foot pod count was 1236.Warren County, IndianaWarren County, Indiana9:21 a.m.Once again, we are seeing decent ear counts in corn fields in this part of Indiana. We are in Tippecanoe County currently. The lengths of the ears and tip back are not helping get yield numbers to where farmers here are used to. Our guess here is at 151. The beans were very young and planted into wheat stubble. This will bring the pod count down dramatically, but there is still lots of potential in this field and this rain is certainly helping here. Our pod count was 343 in a 3 x 3 square.Tippecanoe County, IndianaTippecanoe County, IndianaTippecanoe County, IndianaTippecanoe County, Indiana8:52 a.m.Still in Clinton County, Indiana and stalk quality was a major issue here. Some downed trees in the area is telling us that some wind has come through here recently and this corn field could not handle it. If another strong system gets here more stalks will topple as a result. Our yield calc here is 133. The soybeans were very wavy here, but the pod count was the highest we have seen so far on Day 2. Rain is falling here and the soils were very wet. That gave us a better look at the root system. Our 3 by 3 foot area pod count was 998.Clinton County, IndianaClinton County, IndianaClinton County, Indiana8:05 a.m.This corn is farther along and starting to dent here in Clinton County, Indiana. These ears were heavier than I have seen so far on tour and every ear was 16 around and our yield was at 210 bushel to the acre. Soybeans had a few skips in the area of the field we ended up in and pod count was just okay per plant we sampled. Our pod count in a 3 x 3 square was 768.Clinton County, IndianaClinton County, Indiana7:30 a.mTook a while to get out of town and find some fields in this highly developed part of Hamilton County, Indiana. This corn still have some time to get to dent, but the uniformity here was noticeable compared to yesterday and skips were rare here. Ear length hurt here with one at 4 1/2 inches long. Our yield guess is 155. Soybeans were healthy with very little disease or insect pressure. Dirt here was dry and although we have rain on the radar all around us, we are not wet yet. Our pod count in a 3 by 3 foot square was 929.Hamilton County, IndianaHamilton County, IndianaHamilton County, IndianaHamilton County, Indianalast_img read more

Server error thwarts filling of online loan waiver forms

first_imgPoor internet connectivity and server problems at government e-service centres have made it difficult for farmers to register for the loan waiver scheme. The government had earlier claimed that over 38.90 lakh farmers had filled farm loan waiver forms. Around 89 lakh farmers are eligible for the loan waiver scheme and September 15 is the deadline to submit the forms.Ajit Nawale, convener of the farmers’ steering committee, said, “Farmers are being forced to stand in queue for hours to just fill the form. In many e-service centres, the online registration facility is in tatters. Thumb impressions are not matching with the Aadhaar card data. Server malfunction has also made the process time-consuming.”Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said the errors at e-centers would be tackled and farmers would start receiving money in their accounts from October 1. Kalidas Aapet of Shetkari Sanghatana said, “The government has all the details of farmers who require the loan. This whole exercise of filling forms is unnecessary. It is possible to transfer the amount directly. Only 500 of the 1,400 e-service centres in Beed district are functional.” Mr. Aapet also questioned the need for a ‘caste’ column in the forms.Farmers’ leaders said the procedure could only be completed if the farmer’s wife provided her thumb impression. Mr. Nawale said, “Widows whose husbands have committed suicide are helpless since they have no loan in their name. There is no clarity on this issue.”Uttam Yamgar, a farmer from Mhasurne village in Khatav tehsil, said he has been visiting the e-service centre for eight days but the server has failed recognise his thumb impression.last_img read more

Bail for alleged Maoist sympathiser in Yerwada jail since 2015

first_imgThe Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to Konnath Muralidharan, 66, an alleged sympathiser of Communist Party of India (Maoist), who has been in Yerwada jail since May 2015 after the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested him for possessing ‘objectionable material’. His bail has been previously rejected by the Pune court in September 2016.On May 8, 2015, Mr. Muralidharan was arrested at 6 a.m. after the ATS got information that he, along with an aide Chirag Palli, were operating from their hideout at Talegaon in Pune. ATS recovered hand written notes along with printed literature that talked about Operation Green Hunt, central military commission and other material related to CPI (Maoists).According to the FIR, Mr. Muralidharan introduced himself as Thomas Joseph and was holding names such as Sunny alias Rajendra Goppi Vijayan alias Raghavan alias Ajith Kannampillai alias Kannakaran. His aide Mr. Palli introduced himself as James Mathew.Statements of some witnesses were recorded and the ATS had seized laptops, CPUs, printers, three pen drives, 10 mobile handsets, five sim cards, two dongles and books in Malayalam from them.The ATS also recovered a fake PAN card in the name of Thomas Joseph with Mr. Muralidharan’s photo, while Mr. Palli had a fake Aadhaar card in his name.Mr. Muralidharan was charged with Section 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), Section 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc), Section 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), Section 471(using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 10 (penalty for being member of an unlawful association, etc), Section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities), Section 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation), Section 38 (offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation), and Section 39 (offence relating to support given to a terrorist organisation) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).The ATS filed a chargesheet on October 14, 2015, before a sessions court in Pune. On September 9, 2016, Mr. Muralidharan who suffered heart ailments prior to his arrest, and suffered a mild heart attack while he was lodged in prison, moved a bail application which was rejected by the Pune court. The present bail application, filed in HC through his advocates Sudeep Pasbola and Susan Abraham, states that he has been falsely implicated, and that there is no evidence to prosecute him under UAPA.Justice Nitin Sambre granted bail to Mr. Murlidharan on ₹1 lakh surety and ordered him to report to Pune police station twice a month.last_img read more