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    ABSTRACT: The very labile (decay-prone), non-biomineralized, tissues of organisms are rarely fossilized. Occurrences thereof are invaluable supplements to a body fossil record dominated by biomineralized tissues, which alone are extremely unrepresentative of diversity in modern and ancient ecosystems. Fossil examples of extremely labile tissues (e.g. muscle) that exhibit a high degree of morphological fidelity are almost invariably replicated by inorganic compounds such as calcium phosphate. There is no consensus as to whether such tissues can be preserved with similar morphological fidelity as organic remains, except when enclosed inside amber. Here, we report fossilized musculature from an approximately 18 Myr old salamander from lacustrine sediments of Ribesalbes, Spain. The muscle is preserved organically, in three dimensions, and with the highest fidelity of morphological preservation yet documented from the fossil record. Preserved ultrastructural details include myofilaments, endomysium, layering within the sarcolemma, and endomysial circulatory vessels infilled with blood. Slight differences between the fossil tissues and their counterparts in extant amphibians reflect limited degradation during fossilization. Our results provide unequivocal evidence that high-fidelity organic preservation of extremely labile tissues is not only feasible, but likely to be common. This is supported by the discovery of similarly preserved tissues in the Eocene Grube Messel biota.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2009 · Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Molecular phylogenetics is the study of evolution and relatedness of organisms or genes. Mass spectrometry is used routinely for bacterial identification and has also been used for phylogenetic analysis, for instance from bone material. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the acquired tandem mass spectra allow direct interpretation. We describe a new algorithm and software for molecular phylogenetics using pairwise comparisons of tandem mass spectra from enzymatically digested proteins. The spectra need not be annotated and all acquired data is used in the analysis. To demonstrate the method, we analyzed tryptic digests of sera from four great apes and two other primates. The distribution of spectra dot products for thousands of tandem mass spectra collected from two samples provides a measure on the fraction of shared peptides between the two samples. When inverted, this becomes a distance metric. By pairwise comparison between species and averaging over four individuals per species, it was possible to reconstruct the unique correct phylogenetic tree for the great apes and other primates. The new method described here has several attractive features compared with existing methods, among them simplicity, the unbiased use of all acquired data rather than a small subset of spectra, and the potential use of heavily degraded proteins or proteins with a priori unknown modifications.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
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