Rhamphosuchus is an extinct relative of the modern false gharial. It inhabited, it is only known from incomplete sets of fossils teeth and skulls. Traditionally, many palaeontologists estimated that it was one of the largest, if not the largest crocodylian that lived, reaching an estimated length of 15 to 18 m. However, a more recent study suggests that the animal may have been 8–11 m in length, therefore is not the largest known crocodylian. Another crocodylian, from the Miocene of Peru and Brazil, is known from an incomplete fossil set, it is estimated to have been similar in length to the initial estimates at 12 m. However, this would mean that it would have been somewhat larger in size if the more recent size estimates for Rhamphosuchus are correct. If the most recent estimate is correct several other extinct crocodylians surpassed Rhamphosuchus in length, such as the Late Cretaceous alligatoroid Deinosuchus, the Early Cretaceous pholidosaurid Sarcosuchus, the Miocene gavialid Gryposuchus and the strange planktivorous Mourasuchus, at 12 m, 11–12 m, 10.15 m, 12 m, respectively.
Rhamphosuchus had a more generalized predatory diet than the piscivory of other tomistomines. Media related to Rhamphosuchus at Wikimedia Commons
The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, its base, are somewhat in flux; the period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name of Wales, where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells; as a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some periods. The Cambrian marked a profound change in life on Earth. Complex, multicellular organisms became more common in the millions of years preceding the Cambrian, but it was not until this period that mineralized—hence fossilized—organisms became common; the rapid diversification of life forms in the Cambrian, known as the Cambrian explosion, produced the first representatives of all modern animal phyla.
Phylogenetic analysis has supported the view that during the Cambrian radiation, metazoa evolved monophyletically from a single common ancestor: flagellated colonial protists similar to modern choanoflagellates. Although diverse life forms prospered in the oceans, the land is thought to have been comparatively barren—with nothing more complex than a microbial soil crust and a few molluscs that emerged to browse on the microbial biofilm. Most of the continents were dry and rocky due to a lack of vegetation. Shallow seas flanked the margins of several continents created during the breakup of the supercontinent Pannotia; the seas were warm, polar ice was absent for much of the period. Despite the long recognition of its distinction from younger Ordovician rocks and older Precambrian rocks, it was not until 1994 that the Cambrian system/period was internationally ratified; the base of the Cambrian lies atop a complex assemblage of trace fossils known as the Treptichnus pedum assemblage. The use of Treptichnus pedum, a reference ichnofossil to mark the lower boundary of the Cambrian, is difficult since the occurrence of similar trace fossils belonging to the Treptichnids group are found well below the T. pedum in Namibia and Newfoundland, in the western USA.
The stratigraphic range of T. pedum overlaps the range of the Ediacaran fossils in Namibia, in Spain. The Cambrian Period was followed by the Ordovician Period; the Cambrian is divided into ten ages. Only three series and six stages are named and have a GSSP; because the international stratigraphic subdivision is not yet complete, many local subdivisions are still used. In some of these subdivisions the Cambrian is divided into three series with locally differing names – the Early Cambrian, Middle Cambrian and Furongian. Rocks of these epochs are referred to as belonging to Upper Cambrian. Trilobite zones allow biostratigraphic correlation in the Cambrian; each of the local series is divided into several stages. The Cambrian is divided into several regional faunal stages of which the Russian-Kazakhian system is most used in international parlance: *Most Russian paleontologists define the lower boundary of the Cambrian at the base of the Tommotian Stage, characterized by diversification and global distribution of organisms with mineral skeletons and the appearance of the first Archaeocyath bioherms.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy list the Cambrian period as beginning at 541 million years ago and ending at 485.4 million years ago. The lower boundary of the Cambrian was held to represent the first appearance of complex life, represented by trilobites; the recognition of small shelly fossils before the first trilobites, Ediacara biota earlier, led to calls for a more defined base to the Cambrian period. After decades of careful consideration, a continuous sedimentary sequence at Fortune Head, Newfoundland was settled upon as a formal base of the Cambrian period, to be correlated worldwide by the earliest appearance of Treptichnus pedum. Discovery of this fossil a few metres below the GSSP led to the refinement of this statement, it is the T. pedum ichnofossil assemblage, now formally used to correlate the base of the Cambrian. This formal designation allowed radiometric dates to be obtained from samples across the globe that corresponded to the base of the Cambrian. Early dates of 570 million years ago gained favour, though the methods used to obtain this number are now considered to be unsuitable and inaccurate.
A more precise date using modern radiometric dating yield a date of 541 ± 0.3 million years ago. The ash horizon in Oman from which this date was recovered corresponds to a marked fall in the abundance of carbon-13 that correlates to equivalent excursions elsewhere in the world, to the disappearance of distinctive Ediacaran fossils. There are arguments that the dated horizon in Oman does not correspond to the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary, but represents a facies change from marine to evaporite-dominated strata — which w
A fossil is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, petrified wood, coal, DNA remnants; the totality of fossils is known as the fossil record. Paleontology is the study of fossils: their age, method of formation, evolutionary significance. Specimens are considered to be fossils if they are over 10,000 years old; the oldest fossils are around 3.48 billion years old to 4.1 billion years old. The observation in the 19th century that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led to the recognition of a geological timescale and the relative ages of different fossils; the development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed scientists to quantitatively measure the absolute ages of rocks and the fossils they host. There are many processes that lead to fossilization, including permineralization and molds, authigenic mineralization and recrystallization, adpression and bioimmuration.
Fossils vary in size from one-micrometre bacteria to dinosaurs and trees, many meters long and weighing many tons. A fossil preserves only a portion of the deceased organism that portion, mineralized during life, such as the bones and teeth of vertebrates, or the chitinous or calcareous exoskeletons of invertebrates. Fossils may consist of the marks left behind by the organism while it was alive, such as animal tracks or feces; these types of fossil are called trace ichnofossils, as opposed to body fossils. Some fossils are called chemofossils or biosignatures; the process of fossilization varies according to external conditions. Permineralization is a process of fossilization; the empty spaces within an organism become filled with mineral-rich groundwater. Minerals precipitate from the groundwater; this process can occur in small spaces, such as within the cell wall of a plant cell. Small scale permineralization can produce detailed fossils. For permineralization to occur, the organism must become covered by sediment soon after death, otherwise decay commences.
The degree to which the remains are decayed when covered determines the details of the fossil. Some fossils consist only of skeletal teeth; this is a form of diagenesis. In some cases, the original remains of the organism dissolve or are otherwise destroyed; the remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold. If this hole is filled with other minerals, it is a cast. An endocast, or internal mold, is formed when sediments or minerals fill the internal cavity of an organism, such as the inside of a bivalve or snail or the hollow of a skull; this is a special form of mold formation. If the chemistry is right, the organism can act as a nucleus for the precipitation of minerals such as siderite, resulting in a nodule forming around it. If this happens before significant decay to the organic tissue fine three-dimensional morphological detail can be preserved. Nodules from the Carboniferous Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois, USA, are among the best documented examples of such mineralization.
Replacement occurs. In some cases mineral replacement of the original shell occurs so and at such fine scales that microstructural features are preserved despite the total loss of original material. A shell is said to be recrystallized when the original skeletal compounds are still present but in a different crystal form, as from aragonite to calcite. Compression fossils, such as those of fossil ferns, are the result of chemical reduction of the complex organic molecules composing the organism's tissues. In this case the fossil consists of original material, albeit in a geochemically altered state; this chemical change is an expression of diagenesis. What remains is a carbonaceous film known as a phytoleim, in which case the fossil is known as a compression. However, the phytoleim is lost and all that remains is an impression of the organism in the rock—an impression fossil. In many cases, however and impressions occur together. For instance, when the rock is broken open, the phytoleim will be attached to one part, whereas the counterpart will just be an impression.
For this reason, one term covers the two modes of preservation: adpression. Because of their antiquity, an unexpected exception to the alteration of an organism's tissues by chemical reduction of the complex organic molecules during fossilization has been the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils, including blood vessels, the isolation of proteins and evidence for DNA fragments. In 2014, Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues reported the presence of iron particles associated with soft tissues recovered from dinosaur fossils. Based on various experiments that studied the interaction of iron in haemoglobin with blood vessel tissue they proposed that solution hypoxia coupled with iron chelation enhances the stability and preservation of soft tissue and provides the basis for an explanation for the unforeseen preservation of fossil soft tissues. However, a older study based on eight taxa ranging in time from the Devonian to the Jurassic found that reasonably well-preserved fibrils that represent collagen were preser
An apex predator known as an alpha predator or top predator, is a predator at the top of a food chain, with no natural predators. Apex predators are defined in terms of trophic dynamics, meaning that they occupy the highest trophic levels. Food chains are far shorter on land limited to being secondary consumers – for example, wolves prey upon large herbivores, which eat plants; the apex predator concept is applied in wildlife management and ecotourism. Apex predators have a long evolutionary history, dating at least to the Cambrian period when animals such as Anomalocaris dominated the seas. Humans have for many centuries interacted with apex predators including the wolf, birds of prey and cormorants to hunt game animals and fish respectively. More ecotourism such as with the tiger shark has become popular, rewilding with predators such as the lynx has been proposed. Apex predators affect prey species' population dynamics and populations of other predators, both in aquatic and in terrestrial ecosystems.
Non-native predatory fish, for instance, have sometimes devastated dominant predators. A lake manipulation study found that when the non-native smallmouth bass was removed, lake trout, the suppressed native apex predator, diversified its prey selection and increased its trophic level; as a terrestrial example, the badger, an apex predator, predates on and competes with the hedgehog, a mesopredator, for food such as insects, small mammals, reptiles and ground-nesting bird's eggs. Removal of badgers caused hedgehog densities to more than double. Predators that exert a top-down control on organisms in their community are considered keystone species. Humans are not considered apex predators because their diets are diverse, although human trophic levels increase with consumption of meat. Apex predators can have profound effects on ecosystems, as the consequences of both controlling prey density and restricting smaller predators, may be capable of self-regulation, they are central to the functioning of ecosystems, the regulation of disease, the maintenance of biodiversity.
When introduced to subarctic islands, for example, Arctic foxes' predation of seabirds has been shown to turn grassland into tundra. Such wide-ranging effects on lower levels of an ecosystem are termed trophic cascades; the removal of top-level predators through human agency, can cause or disrupt trophic cascades. For example, reduction in the population of sperm whales, apex predators with a fractional trophic level of 4.7, by hunting has caused an increase in the population of large squid, trophic level over 4. This effect, called mesopredator release, occurs in marine ecosystems; because apex predators have powerful effects on other predators, on herbivores, on plants, they can be important in nature conservation. Humans have hunted many apex predators close to extinction, but in some parts of the world these predators are now returning, they are threatened by climate change. For example, the polar bear requires extensive areas of sea ice to hunt its prey seals, but climate change is shrinking the sea ice of the Arctic, forcing polar bears to fast on land for long periods.
Dramatic changes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem were recorded after the gray wolf, both an apex predator and a keystone species, was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 as a conservation measure. Elk, the wolves' primary prey, became less abundant and changed their behavior, freeing riparian zones from constant grazing and allowing willows and cottonwoods to flourish, creating habitats for beaver and scores of other species. In addition to their effect on prey species, the wolves' presence affected one of the park's vulnerable species, the grizzly bear: emerging from hibernation, having fasted for months, the bears chose to scavenge wolf kills during the autumn as they prepared to hibernate once again; the grizzly bear gives birth during hibernation, so the increased food supply is expected to produce an increase in the numbers of cubs observed. Dozens of other species, including eagles, magpies and black bears have been documented as scavenging from wolf kills within the park.
Ecologists have debated. Sylvain Bonhommeau and colleagues argued in 2013 that across the global food web, a fractional human trophic level can be calculated as the mean trophic level of every species in the human diet, weighted by the proportion which that species forms in the diet; this analysis gives an average HTL of 2.21, varying between 2.04 and 2.57. These values are comparable to those of non-apex predators like pig. Peter D. Roopnarine criticised Bonhommeau's approach, arguing that humans are apex predators, that the HTL was based on terrestrial farming where indeed humans have a low trophic level eating producers or primary consumers, which as expected places humans at a level above 2. Roopnarine instead calculated the position of humans in two marine ecosystems, a Caribbean coral reef and the Benguela system near South Africa. In these systems, humans eat predatory fish and have a fractional trophic level of 4.65 and 4.5 which in Roopnarine's view makes those h
The Cretaceous is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon; the Cretaceous Period is abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide. The Cretaceous was a period with a warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas; these oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared; the Cretaceous ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs and large marine reptiles died out. The end of the Cretaceous is defined by the abrupt Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The Cretaceous as a separate period was first defined by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in 1822, using strata in the Paris Basin and named for the extensive beds of chalk, found in the upper Cretaceous of Western Europe. The name Cretaceous was derived from Latin creta; the Cretaceous is divided into Early and Late Cretaceous epochs, or Lower and Upper Cretaceous series. In older literature the Cretaceous is sometimes divided into three series: Neocomian and Senonian. A subdivision in eleven stages, all originating from European stratigraphy, is now used worldwide. In many parts of the world, alternative local subdivisions are still in use; as with other older geologic periods, the rock beds of the Cretaceous are well identified but the exact age of the system's base is uncertain by a few million years. No great extinction or burst of diversity separates the Cretaceous from the Jurassic. However, the top of the system is defined, being placed at an iridium-rich layer found worldwide, believed to be associated with the Chicxulub impact crater, with its boundaries circumscribing parts of the Yucatán Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.
This layer has been dated at 66.043 Ma. A 140 Ma age for the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary instead of the accepted 145 Ma was proposed in 2014 based on a stratigraphic study of Vaca Muerta Formation in Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Víctor Ramos, one of the authors of the study proposing the 140 Ma boundary age sees the study as a "first step" toward formally changing the age in the International Union of Geological Sciences. From youngest to oldest, the subdivisions of the Cretaceous period are: Late Cretaceous Maastrichtian – Campanian – Santonian – Coniacian – Turonian – Cenomanian – Early Cretaceous Albian – Aptian – Barremian – Hauterivian – Valanginian – Berriasian – The high sea level and warm climate of the Cretaceous meant large areas of the continents were covered by warm, shallow seas, providing habitat for many marine organisms; the Cretaceous was named for the extensive chalk deposits of this age in Europe, but in many parts of the world, the deposits from the Cretaceous are of marine limestone, a rock type, formed under warm, shallow marine circumstances.
Due to the high sea level, there was extensive space for such sedimentation. Because of the young age and great thickness of the system, Cretaceous rocks are evident in many areas worldwide. Chalk is a rock type characteristic for the Cretaceous, it consists of coccoliths, microscopically small calcite skeletons of coccolithophores, a type of algae that prospered in the Cretaceous seas. In northwestern Europe, chalk deposits from the Upper Cretaceous are characteristic for the Chalk Group, which forms the white cliffs of Dover on the south coast of England and similar cliffs on the French Normandian coast; the group is found in England, northern France, the low countries, northern Germany, Denmark and in the subsurface of the southern part of the North Sea. Chalk is not consolidated and the Chalk Group still consists of loose sediments in many places; the group has other limestones and arenites. Among the fossils it contains are sea urchins, belemnites and sea reptiles such as Mosasaurus. In southern Europe, the Cretaceous is a marine system consisting of competent limestone beds or incompetent marls.
Because the Alpine mountain chains did not yet exist in the Cretaceous, these deposits formed on the southern edge of the European continental shelf, at the margin of the Tethys Ocean. Stagnation of deep sea currents in middle Cretaceous times caused anoxic conditions in the sea water leaving the deposited organic matter undecomposed. Half the worlds petroleum reserves were laid down at this time in the anoxic conditions of what would become the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico. In many places around the world, dark anoxic shales were formed during this interval; these shales are an important source rock for oil and gas, for example in the subsurface of the North Sea. During th
Brazil the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, its most populated city is São Paulo; the federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers, it borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats; this unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.
Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system; the ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress. The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d'état. An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed. Brazil's current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic. Due to its rich culture and history, the country ranks thirteenth in the world by number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Brazil is considered an advanced emerging economy. It has the ninth largest GDP in the world by nominal, eight and PPP measures, it is one of the world's major breadbaskets, being the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years. It is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country, with the largest share of global wealth in Latin America. Brazil is a regional power and sometimes considered a great or a middle power in international affairs. On account of its international recognition and influence, the country is subsequently classified as an emerging power and a potential superpower by several analysts. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Union of South American Nations, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, it is that the word "Brazil" comes from the Portuguese word for brazilwood, a tree that once grew plentifully along the Brazilian coast.
In Portuguese, brazilwood is called pau-brasil, with the word brasil given the etymology "red like an ember", formed from brasa and the suffix -il. As brazilwood produces a deep red dye, it was valued by the European textile industry and was the earliest commercially exploited product from Brazil. Throughout the 16th century, massive amounts of brazilwood were harvested by indigenous peoples along the Brazilian coast, who sold the timber to European traders in return for assorted European consumer goods; the official Portuguese name of the land, in original Portuguese records, was the "Land of the Holy Cross", but European sailors and merchants called it the "Land of Brazil" because of the brazilwood trade. The popular appellation eclipsed and supplanted the official Portuguese name; some early sailors called it the "Land of Parrots". In the Guarani language, an official language of Paraguay, Brazil is called "Pindorama"; this was the name the indigenous population gave to the region, meaning "land of the palm trees".
Some of the earliest human remains found in the Americas, Luzia Woman, were found in the area of Pedro Leopoldo, Minas Gerais and provide evidence of human habitation going back at least 11,000 years. The earliest pottery found in the Western Hemisphere was excavated in the Amazon basin of Brazil and radiocarbon dated to 8,000 years ago; the pottery was found near Santarém and provides evidence that the tropical forest region supported a complex prehistoric culture. The Marajoara culture flourished on Marajó in the Amazon delta from 800 CE to 1400 CE, developing sophisticated pottery, social stratification, large populations, mound building, complex social formations such as chiefdoms. Around the time of the Portuguese arrival, the territory of current day Brazil had an estimated indigenous population of 7 million people semi-nomadic who subsisted on hunting, fishing and migrant agriculture; the indigenous population of Brazil comprised several large indigenous ethnic groups. The Tupí people were subdivided into the Tupiniquins and Tupinambás, there were many subdivisions of the other gro