6,768 research outputs found

    Anatomy, morphology and evolution of the patella in squamate lizards and tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)

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    The patella (kneecap) is the largest and best-known of the sesamoid bones, postulated to confer biomechanical advantages including increasing joint leverage and reinforcing the tendon against compression. It has evolved several times independently in amniotes, but despite apparently widespread occurrence in lizards, the patella remains poorly characterised in this group and is, as yet, completely undescribed in their nearest extant relative Sphenodon (Rhynchocephalia). Through radiography, osteological and fossil studies we examined patellar presence in diverse lizard and lepidosauromorph taxa, and using computed tomography, dissection and histology we investigated in greater depth the anatomy and morphology of the patella in 16 lizard species and 19 Sphenodon specimens. We have found the first unambiguous evidence of a mineralised patella in Sphenodon, which appears similar to the patella of lizards and shares several gross and microscopic anatomical features. Although there may be a common mature morphology, the squamate patella exhibits a great deal of variability in development (whether from a cartilage anlage or not, and in the number of mineralised centres) and composition (bone, mineralised cartilage or fibrotendinous tissue). Unlike in mammals and birds, the patella in certain lizards and Sphenodon appears to be a polymorphic trait. We have also explored the evolution of the patella through ancestral state reconstruction, finding that the patella is ancestral for lizards and possibly Lepidosauria as a whole. Clear evidence of the patella in rhynchocephalian or stem lepidosaurian fossil taxa would clarify the evolutionary origin(s) of the patella, but due to the small size of this bone and the opportunity for degradation or loss we could not definitively conclude presence or absence in the fossils examined. The pattern of evolution in lepidosaurs is unclear but our data suggest that the emergence of this sesamoid may be related to the evolution of secondary ossification centres and/or changes in knee joint conformation, where enhancement of extensor muscle leverage would be more beneficial.Sophie Regnault, Marc E. H. Jones, Andrew A. Pitsillides, John R. Hutchinso

    Numerical Modelling of Instantaneous Plate Tectonics

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    Assuming lithospheric plates to be rigid, we systematically invert 68 spreading rates, 62 fracture zones trends and 10^6 earthquake slip vectors simultaneously to obtain a self-consistent model of instantaneous relative motions for eleven major plates. The inverse problem is linearized and solved iteratively by a maximum likelihood procedure. Because the uncertainties in the data are small, Gaussian statistics are shown to be adequate. The use of a linear theory permits (1) the calculation of the uncertainties in the various angular velocity vectors caused by uncertainties in the data, and (2) quantitative examination of the distribution of information within the data set. The existence of a self-consistent model satisfying all the data is strong justification of the rigid plate assumption. Slow movement between North and South America is shown to be resolvable. We then invert the trends of 20 linear island chains and aseismic ridges under the assumptions that they represent the directions of plate motions over a set of hot spots fixed with respect to each other. We conclude that these hot spots have had no significant relative motions in the last 10 My

    Star formation in the massive cluster merger Abell 2744

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    We present a comprehensive study of star-forming (SF) galaxies in the HST Frontier Field recent cluster merger A2744 (z=0.308). Wide-field, ultraviolet-infrared (UV-IR) imaging enables a direct constraint of the total star formation rate (SFR) for 53 cluster galaxies, with SFR{UV+IR}=343+/-10 Msun/yr. Within the central 4 arcmin (1.1 Mpc) radius, the integrated SFR is complete, yielding a total SFR{UV+IR}=201+/-9 Msun/yr. Focussing on obscured star formation, this core region exhibits a total SFR{IR}=138+/-8 Msun/yr, a mass-normalised SFR{IR} of Sigma{SFR}=11.2+/-0.7 Msun/yr per 10^14 Msun and a fraction of IR-detected SF galaxies f{SF}=0.080(+0.010,-0.037). Overall, the cluster population at z~0.3 exhibits significant intrinsic scatter in IR properties (total SFR{IR}, Tdust distribution) apparently unrelated to the dynamical state: A2744 is noticeably different to the merging Bullet cluster, but similar to several relaxed clusters. However, in A2744 we identify a trail of SF sources including jellyfish galaxies with substantial unobscured SF due to extreme stripping (SFR{UV}/SFR{IR} up to 3.3). The orientation of the trail, and of material stripped from constituent galaxies, indicates that the passing shock front of the cluster merger was the trigger. Constraints on star formation from both IR and UV are crucial for understanding galaxy evolution within the densest environments.Comment: Accepted by MNRAS. 12 pages, 7 figures (high resolution versions of Figs. 1 & 2 are available in the published PDF

    An approach to computing downward closures

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    The downward closure of a word language is the set of all (not necessarily contiguous) subwords of its members. It is well-known that the downward closure of any language is regular. While the downward closure appears to be a powerful abstraction, algorithms for computing a finite automaton for the downward closure of a given language have been established only for few language classes. This work presents a simple general method for computing downward closures. For language classes that are closed under rational transductions, it is shown that the computation of downward closures can be reduced to checking a certain unboundedness property. This result is used to prove that downward closures are computable for (i) every language class with effectively semilinear Parikh images that are closed under rational transductions, (ii) matrix languages, and (iii) indexed languages (equivalently, languages accepted by higher-order pushdown automata of order 2).Comment: Full version of contribution to ICALP 2015. Comments welcom

    LoCuSS: The steady decline and slow quenching of star formation in cluster galaxies over the last four billion years

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    We present an analysis of the levels and evolution of star formation activity in a representative sample of 30 massive galaxy clusters at 0.15<z<0.30 from the Local Cluster Substructure Survey (LoCuSS), combining wide-field Spitzer 24um data with extensive spectroscopy of cluster members. The specific-SFRs of massive (M>10^10 M_sun) star-forming cluster galaxies within r200 are found to be systematically 28% lower than their counterparts in the field at fixed stellar mass and redshift, a difference significant at the 8.7-sigma level. This is the unambiguous signature of star formation in most (and possibly all) massive star-forming galaxies being slowly quenched upon accretion into massive clusters, their SFRs declining exponentially on quenching time-scales in the range 0.7-2.0 Gyr. We measure the mid-infrared Butcher-Oemler effect over the redshift range 0.0-0.4, finding rapid evolution in the fraction (f_SF) of massive (M_K3M_sun/yr, of the form f_SF (1+z)^7.6. We dissect the origins of the Butcher-Oemler effect, revealing it to be due to the combination of a ~3x decline in the mean specific-SFRs of star-forming cluster galaxies since z~0.3 with a ~1.5x decrease in number density. Two-thirds of this reduction in the specific-SFRs of star-forming cluster galaxies is due to the steady cosmic decline in the specific-SFRs among those field galaxies accreted into the clusters. The remaining one-third reflects an accelerated decline in the star formation activity of galaxies within clusters. The slow quenching of star-formation in cluster galaxies is consistent with a gradual shut down of star formation in infalling spiral galaxies as they interact with the intra-cluster medium via ram-pressure stripping or starvation mechanisms. We find no evidence for the build-up of cluster S0 bulges via major nuclear star-burst episodes.Comment: 24 pages, 12 figures. Accepted for publication in Ap
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