Jie Wang, Liping Ning, Qi Gao, Shiye Zhang and Quan Chen

Edited by Lloyd A. Donaldson

ABSTRACT

The subject of this study is the structure and composition of buried Phoebe zhennan wood. Through comparative studies of the anatomy and composition with modern undegraded wood, the objective was to understand any changes that have taken place in the P. zhennan buried wood samples. The P. zhennan buried wood can be identified by wood structure characteristics and volatile components analysis. It is required that the microstructural features are identical to those of modern P. zhennan wood; simultaneously, the volatile components of the wood must contain six characteristic compounds with the same peak retention time. The P. zhennan buried wood sample which was used in the experiment was dated 8035–7945 BP (95.4% probability). Further research showed that the cell wall of P. zhennan buried wood had been damaged, the hemicellulose was heavily degraded but there was no obvious degradation of crystalline cellulose. Moisture was present mainly as free water and large amounts of mineral elements such as Fe, and Ni were detected in the ash of P. zhennan buried wood. Both the buried and modern wood of P. zhennan were acidic.

Lloyd Donaldson, Adya Singh, Laura Raymond, Stefan Hill and Uwe Schmitt

ABSTRACT

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) has distinctly colored heartwood as a result of extractive deposition during heartwood formation. This is known to affect natural durability and treatability with preservatives, as well as other types of wood modification involving infiltration with chemicals. The distribution of extractives in sapwood and heartwood of Douglas-fir was studied using fluorescence microscopy. Several different types of extractive including flavonoids, resin acids, and tannins were localized to heartwood cell walls, resin canals, and rays, using autofluorescence or staining of flavonoids with Naturstoff A reagent. Extractives were found to infiltrate the cell walls of heartwood tracheids and were also present to a lesser extent in sapwood tracheid cell walls, especially in regions adjacent to the resin canals. Förster resonance energy transfer measurements showed that the accessibility of lignin lining cell wall micropores to rhodamine dye was reduced by about 50%, probably as a result of cell wall-bound tannin-like materials which accumulate in heartwood relative to sapwood, and are responsible for the orange color of the heartwood. These results indicate that micro-distribution of heartwood extractives affects cell wall porosity which is reduced by the accumulation of heartwood extractives in softwood tracheid cell walls.

Shuqin Zhang, Rong Liu, Caiping Lian, Junji Luo, Feng Yang, Xianmiao Liu and Benhua Fei

Edited by Lloyd A. Donaldson

ABSTRACT

The flow of xylem sap in bamboo is closely associated with metaxylem vessels and the pits in their cell walls. These pits are essential components of the watertransport system and are key intercellular pathways for transverse permeation of treatment agents related to utilization. Observations of metaxylem vessels and pits in moso bamboo culm internodes were carried out using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) to examine mature bamboo fractures and resin casts. The results showed that bordered pits were distributed in relation to adjacent cell types with most pits between vessels and parenchyma cells and few pits between vessels and fibers of the bundle sheath. The pit arrangement was mainly opposite to alternate with apertures ranging from oval, flattened elliptical, or slit-like to coalescent. The vertical dimensions of inner apertures and outer apertures of the pits were about 0.9-2.7 μm and 1.1-3.8 μm, respectively. According to the relative position, and size difference between the inner apertures and their borders, the bordered pit shapes were categorized into three types, namely PI, PII and PIII (Fig. 3C). Half-bordered pit pairs were observed between vessels and direct contact parenchyma cells. Most vessel elements possessed simple perforation plates.

Mathew R. Vanner

Edited by Elisabeth A. Wheeler

ABSTRACT

Angiosperm wood from the Miocene Landslip Hill silcrete, Southland, New Zealand is described. It is characterised by solitary vessels of two distinct size classes; rays of two size classes alongside aggregate rays; simple perforation plates; and axial parenchyma in tangential bands up to three cells wide. The wood has features similar to Casuarinaceae and is described here as a new species, Casuarinoxylon ildephonsi. The fossils were collected as isolated fragments of wood; there is no directly associated cladode or cone material although isolated fragments of these are common elsewhere in the Landslip Hill silcrete. This is the second record of fossil Casuarinaceae wood from New Zealand and the first sample to be anatomically described. Currently, Casuarinaceae does not occur in New Zealand. Casuarinoxylon ildephonsi would have grown in a warm temperate to subtropical climate on an open deltaic floodplain.

Mélanie Tanrattana, Jean-François Barczi, Anne-Laure Decombeix, Brigitte Meyer-Berthaud and Jonathan Wilson

Edited by Lisa Boucher

ABSTRACT

The origin of xylem in the Silurian was a major step in plant evolution, leading to diverse growth forms with various mechanical and hydraulic properties. In the fossil record, these properties can only be investigated using models based on extant plant physiology. Regarding hydraulics, previous studies have considered either the properties of a single tracheid or of a set of independent tubes. Here, we use the analogy between the flow of water under tension in a plant and an electrical circuit to develop an extension of Wilson’s single tracheid model to the tissue scale. Upscaling to the tissue-level allows considering wood as a heterogeneous tissue by taking into account differences in tracheid density and the presence of rays. The new model provides a more biologically accurate representation of fossil wood hydraulic properties. The single tracheid and new tissue models are applied to two conspecific specimens of Callixylon (Progymnospermopsida, Archeopteridales) from the Late Devonian of Morocco. Differences are shown at the tissue level that cannot be suspected at the single tracheid level. Callixylon represents the first trees with a conifer-like wood and is a major component of Late Devonian fl oras worldwide. Our results show that the anatomical disparity of its wood might have led to hydraulic plasticity, allowing growth in various environmental conditions. More generally, the new tissue-model suggests that the various combinations of tracheid and ray sizes present in Palaeozoic plants might have led to a higher variety of ecophysiologies than suspected based solely on the properties of individual tracheids.

Series:

Alex C. Parrish

Abstract

Banal classicism describes a wide variety of behaviors – from sophisticated conversations among artists who reinterpret classical forms to actions as mundane as employing cartoon illustrations of Roman dictators to make one’s pizza franchise seem more genuinely Italian. What unites these varied behaviors is the attempt to borrow ethos – either directly from the classical world or from previous borrowers. The desire to benefit from the reputation or status of another is not confined to our classical past, and indeed is not even a uniquely human behavior; many examples of borrowing ethos exist in kingdom Animalia. In biological terms, banal classicism could be defined as deceptive mimicry meant to persuade receivers by adopting the ethos of another individual or group. Among primates this behavior is ubiquitous. Juvenile baboons borrow ethos to undermine the rigid hierarchies of their groups. They employ deceptive fear calls to make a parent think they are being injured, but only when the juveniles are competing for resources with an individual who is more highly ranked than them but ranked lower than the parent to whom they are calling. In these cases, the rival is quickly displaced; the parent’s status within the group persuades them to leave. These baboons present but one example of homologous animal rhetorics that can help us better understand the cognitive underpinnings of rhetorical behavior. By analyzing examples from nonhuman behavior as well as human popular literature and film (the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dragonslayer), this chapter will demonstrate that there is a wide range of behavior among human and nonhuman animals that demonstrate borrowed ethos, the basis of banal classicism.

Series:

Mathias Clasen and Todd K. Platts

Abstract

The slasher film, which depicts teenagers stalked by homicidal maniacs, has been experiencing waves of intense popularity since the late 1970s. In explaining the paradoxical appeal of such films, we argue that an integrative analytical framework is required. Such a framework pays attention to the evolved psychological dispositions brought into play by slasher films, to the sociocultural context that such films may reflect, and to the film-industrial factors that make such films particularly attractive from a production point of view. We discuss the entire history of modern slasher films but take John Carpenter’s famous slasher Halloween (1978) as out analytical focus. Our claim is that a multi-level analytical framework guided by biocultural theory is necessary to making sense of the slasher film.

Series:

Brett Cooke

Abstract

The brilliant but brief popularity of opera seria poses a challenge to evolutionary criticism: how can a work of art be temporarily, but not permanently, in fashion, when the genetic underpinnings of our aesthetics adapt at a comparably glacial pace? Some of this may be explained by the immediate, rapidly shifting, environment, including contemporary competition for our attention. The art of the great castrati exploited novel expressive potentials of the voice, but that and the lurid provision of sex and violence evidently soon wore off. Nevertheless, in the course of the genre’s failure Handel discovered the eventual seeds of opera’s future lasting success in exploiting its potential to project nuances of actual human personality.

Imagining the End of the World

A Biocultural Analysis of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Series:

Mathias Clasen

Abstract

Post-apocalyptic fiction taps into the deepest springs of ancient and evolved emotions, but it found in modernity a particularly hospitable cultural ecology and a particularly receptive audience. Focusing on post-apocalyptic English language science fiction and horror literature of the Cold War era, I argue that a biocultural analytical framework is indispensable to making sense of this type of fiction. Post-apocalyptic stories function as a mental testing-ground where readers can cognitively and emotionally model the experience of living through the worst, and the genre prompts readers to reflect on the meaning of an existence that is always subject to radical change.

Series:

Brett Cooke and Dirk Vanderbeke