Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Snails hold key to evolutionary theory


Thursday, November 1, 2012


Snails hold key to evolutionary theory

New Zealand marine snails could be the key to understanding just how evolution works, according to a Massey University research team.

Associate Professor Mary Morgan-Richards, of Massey University’s Institute of Natural Resources, is the principal investigator of a team that will study how and when species evolve.

The team that comprises Massey’s Associate Professor Steve Trewick, and Dr James Crampton and Dr Alan Beu of GNS Science, was awarded $690,000 by the Marsden Fund for the three-year project.

Dr Morgan-Richards says the theory of punctuated equilibrium – where species stay static for long geological periods with short, major changes occurring quickly as new species arise – has been around since the 1970s, but is yet to be fully proven. New Zealand olive shells were described by Stephen Jay Gould as the best example of punctuated equilibrium in the world.

“While there was debate when the concept was introduced, now people generally accept that what we see in the fossil record – rapid morphological change, or change in appearance – is a result of new species formation, and punctuates long periods of no change,” she says.

The research will focus on New Zealand marine snail fossils over the last 10 million years and be sourced from GNS Science’s archives.

“The snails live on the ocean floor and it’s an ideal place to fossilise because the sediment quickly accumulates over the dead snails and layers build up. The uplift of land in the Whanganui Basin, where many fossils were collected, means we can date the layers accurately.”

The team will use morphological, stratigraphic and genetic analysis in their research. “We have large numbers of the snails so we can do extensive morphometric analysis, which will document the shape changes in the shells over time.

“Next generation DNA sequencing will be used to distinguish living species and study their evolution.”

Associate Professor Morgan-Richards’ team will for the first time integrate genetics and palaeontology to study the same taxa and convincingly test between punctuated equilibrium and other evolutionary process.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Finance: Major Campaign To End "Gross Overtaxation Of Savings"

The campaign – which includes a special web site through which New Zealanders can e-mail their own and other MPs and party leaders – is backed by Age Concern, Consumer NZ, the Financial Services Council and the Taxpayers’ Union. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Leighton-Led WGP To Build, Manage Transmission Gully

The Wellington Gateway Partnership, led by a unit of ASX-listed Leighton Holdings, has won the $1 billion contract to build the Transmission Gully road north of Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

Gareth Morgan: The Government’s Fresh Water Policy – Revisited

Fresh water quality is the latest area to be in the sights of Gareth Morgan and his research organisation The Morgan Foundation... They found that the fresh water policy was a bit murkier than the Environment Minister let on. More>>

ALSO:

Interest Rates: RBNZ Hikes OCR To 3.5%, ‘Period Of Assessment’ Now Needed

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler raised the official cash rate as expected, while signalling a pause in rate hikes to assess the impact of moves so far this year. The kiwi dollar sank after Wheeler said its strength was “unjustified” and that the currency could have “a significant fall.” More>>

ALSO:

Fonterra: Canpac Site 'Resize' To Focus More On Paediatrics

Fonterra is looking at realigning its packing operations at Canpac, in the Waikato, to focus more on paediatric nutritionals... The proposed changes could mean around 110 roles may not be required at the site which currently employs 330. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Postie Plus Brand Gets 2nd Chance With Well-Funded Pepkor

The Postie Plus brand is getting a new lease of life after South Africa’s Pepkor bought the failed retailer’s assets out of administration and said it will use its purchasing power to reduce costs of stock and fatten margins. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news