ResearchPad - paleozoology https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[The fast and the frugal: Divergent locomotory strategies drive limb lengthening in theropod dinosaurs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14509 Limb length, cursoriality and speed have long been areas of significant interest in theropod paleobiology, since locomotory capacity, especially running ability, is critical in the pursuit of prey and to avoid becoming prey. The impact of allometry on running ability, and the limiting effect of large body size, are aspects that are traditionally overlooked. Since several different non-avian theropod lineages have each independently evolved body sizes greater than any known terrestrial carnivorous mammal, ~1000kg or more, the effect that such large mass has on movement ability and energetics is an area with significant implications for Mesozoic paleoecology. Here, using expansive datasets that incorporate several different metrics to estimate body size, limb length and running speed, we calculate the effects of allometry on running ability. We test traditional metrics used to evaluate cursoriality in non-avian theropods such as distal limb length, relative hindlimb length, and compare the energetic cost savings of relative hindlimb elongation between members of the Tyrannosauridae and more basal megacarnivores such as Allosauroidea or Ceratosauridae. We find that once the limiting effects of body size increase is incorporated there is no significant correlation to top speed between any of the commonly used metrics, including the newly suggested distal limb index (Tibia + Metatarsus/ Femur length). The data also shows a significant split between large and small bodied theropods in terms of maximizing running potential suggesting two distinct strategies for promoting limb elongation based on the organisms’ size. For small and medium sized theropods increased leg length seems to correlate with a desire to increase top speed while amongst larger taxa it corresponds more closely to energetic efficiency and reducing foraging costs. We also find, using 3D volumetric mass estimates, that the Tyrannosauridae show significant cost of transport savings compared to more basal clades, indicating reduced energy expenditures during foraging and likely reduced need for hunting forays. This suggests that amongst theropods, hindlimb evolution was not dictated by one particular strategy. Amongst smaller bodied taxa the competing pressures of being both a predator and a prey item dominant while larger ones, freed from predation pressure, seek to maximize foraging ability. We also discuss the implications both for interactions amongst specific clades and Mesozoic paleobiology and paleoecological reconstructions as a whole.

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<![CDATA[Anatomy of the dinosaur Pampadromaeus barberenai (Saurischia—Sauropodomorpha) from the Late Triassic Santa Maria Formation of southern Brazil]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe1bd5eed0c484e5b4e9

Sauropodomorphs are the most abundant and diverse clade of Triassic dinosaurs, but the taxonomy of their earliest (Carnian) representatives is still poorly understood. One such taxon is Pampadromaeus barberenai, represented by a nearly complete disarticulated skeleton recovered from the upper part of the Santa Maria Formation of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Here, the osteology of Pam. barberenai is fully described for the first time. Detailed comparisons with other Carnian sauropodomorphs reveal a unique anatomy, corroborating its status as a valid species. Potential autapomorphies of Pam. barberenai can be seen in the articulation of the sacral zygapophyses, the length of the pectoral epipodium, the shape of the distal articulation of the femur and the proximal articulation of metatarsal 1. A novel phylogenetic study shows that relationships among the Carnian sauropodomorphs are poorly constrained, possibly because they belong to a “zone of variability”, where homoplasy abounds. Yet, there is some evidence that Pam. barberenai may nest within Saturnaliidae, along with Saturnalia tupiniquim and Chromogisaurus novasi, which represents the sister group to the larger sauropodomorphs, i.e. Bagualosauria.

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<![CDATA[The braincase of Malawisaurus dixeyi (Sauropoda: Titanosauria): A 3D reconstruction of the brain endocast and inner ear]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dca27d5eed0c48452a84d

A braincase of the Cretaceous titanosaurian sauropod Malawisaurus dixeyi, complete except for the olfactory region, was CT scanned and a 3D rendering of the endocast and inner ear was generated. Cranial nerves appear in the same configuration as in other sauropods, including derived features that appear to characterize titanosaurians, specifically, an abducens nerve canal that passes lateral to the pituitary fossa rather than entering it. Furthermore, the hypoglossal nerve exits the skull via a single foramen, consistent with most titanosaurians, while other saurischians, including the basal titanosauriform, Giraffatitan, contain multiple rootlets. The size of the vestibular labyrinth is smaller than in Giraffatitan, but larger than in most derived titanosaurians. Similar to the condition found in Giraffatitan, the anterior semicircular canal is larger than the posterior semicircular canal. This contrasts with more derived titanosaurians that contain similarly sized anterior and posterior semicircular canals, congruent with the interpretation of Malawisaurus as a basal titanosaurian. Measurements of the humerus of Malawisaurus provide a body mass estimate of 4.7 metric tons. Comparison of body mass to radius of the semicircular canals of the vestibular labyrinth reveals that Malawisaurus fits the allometric relationship found in previous studies of extant mammals and Giraffatitan brancai. As in Giraffatitan, the anterior semicircular canal is significantly larger than is predicted by the allometric relationship suggesting greater sensitivity and slower movement of the head in the sagittal plane.

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<![CDATA[A new African Titanosaurian Sauropod Dinosaur from the middle Cretaceous Galula Formation (Mtuka Member), Rukwa Rift Basin, Southwestern Tanzania]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dca2ad5eed0c48452a874

The African terrestrial fossil record has been limited in its contribution to our understanding of both regional and global Cretaceous paleobiogeography, an interval of significant geologic and macroevolutionary change. A common component in Cretaceous African faunas, titanosaurian sauropods diversified into one of the most specious groups of dinosaurs worldwide. Here we describe the new titanosaurian Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia gen. et sp. nov. from the Mtuka Member of the Galula Formation in southwest Tanzania. The new specimen preserves teeth, elements from all regions of the postcranial axial skeleton, parts of both appendicular girdles, and portions of both limbs including a complete metatarsus. Unique traits of M. moyowamkia include the lack of an interpostzygapophyseal lamina in posterior dorsal vertebrae, pronounced posterolateral expansion of middle caudal centra, and an unusually small sternal plate. Phylogenetic analyses consistently place M. moyowamkia as either a close relative to lithostrotian titanosaurians (e.g., parsimony, uncalibrated Bayesian analyses) or as a lithostrotian and sister taxon to Malawisaurus dixeyi from the nearby Aptian? Dinosaur Beds of Malawi (e.g., tip-dating Bayesian analyses). M. moyowamkia shares a few features with M. dixeyi, including semi-spatulate teeth and a median lamina between the neural canal and interpostzygapophyseal lamina in anterior dorsal vertebrae. Both comparative morphology and phylogenetic analyses support Mnyamawamtuka as a distinct and distant relative to Rukwatitan bisepultus and Shingopana songwensis from the younger Namba Member of the Galula Formation with these results largely congruent with newly constrained ages for the Mtuka Member (Aptian–Cenomanian) and Namba Member (Campanian). Coupled with recent discoveries from the Dahkla Oasis, Egypt (e.g., Mansourasaurus shahinae) and other parts of continental Afro-Arabia, the Tanzania titanosaurians refine perspectives on the development of African terrestrial faunas throughout the Cretaceous—a critical step in understanding non-marine paleobiogeographic patterns of Africa that have remained elusive until the past few years.

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<![CDATA[A new baby oviraptorid dinosaur (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Nemegt Formation of Mongolia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648cf4d5eed0c484c81b9d

Recent discoveries of new oviraptorosaurs revealed their high diversity from the Cretaceous Period in Asia and North America. Particularly, at the family level, oviraptorids are among the most diverse theropod dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia and China. A new oviraptorid dinosaur Gobiraptor minutus gen. et sp. nov. from the Upper Cretaceous Nemegt Formation is described here based on a single holotype specimen that includes incomplete cranial and postcranial elements. The most prominent characters of Gobiraptor are its thickened rostrodorsal end of the mandibular symphysis and a rudimentary lingual shelf on each side of the dentary. Each lingual shelf is lined with small occlusal foramina and demarcated by a weakly developed lingual ridge. This mandibular morphology of Gobiraptor is unique among oviraptorids and likely to be linked to a specialized diet that probably included hard materials, such as seeds or bivalves. The osteohistology of the femur of the holotype specimen indicates that the individual was fairly young at the time of its death. Phylogenetic analysis recovers Gobiraptor as a derived oviraptorid close to three taxa from the Ganzhou region in southern China, but rather distantly related to other Nemegt oviraptorids which, as the results of recent studies, are also not closely related to each other. Gobiraptor increases diversity of oviraptorids in the Nemegt Formation and its presence confirms the successful adaptation of oviraptorids to a mesic environment.

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<![CDATA[If Dung Beetles (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) Arose in Association with Dinosaurs, Did They Also Suffer a Mass Co-Extinction at the K-Pg Boundary?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f0ab0ee8fa60b6e0f4

The evolutionary success of beetles and numerous other terrestrial insects is generally attributed to co-radiation with flowering plants but most studies have focused on herbivorous or pollinating insects. Non-herbivores represent a significant proportion of beetle diversity yet potential factors that influence their diversification have been largely unexamined. In the present study, we examine the factors driving diversification within the Scarabaeidae, a speciose beetle family with a range of both herbivorous and non-herbivorous ecologies. In particular, it has been long debated whether the key event in the evolution of dung beetles (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) was an adaptation to feeding on dinosaur or mammalian dung. Here we present molecular evidence to show that the origin of dung beetles occurred in the middle of the Cretaceous, likely in association with dinosaur dung, but more surprisingly the timing is consistent with the rise of the angiosperms. We hypothesize that the switch in dinosaur diet to incorporate more nutritious and less fibrous angiosperm foliage provided a palatable dung source that ultimately created a new niche for diversification. Given the well-accepted mass extinction of non-avian dinosaurs at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, we examine a potential co-extinction of dung beetles due to the loss of an important evolutionary resource, i.e., dinosaur dung. The biogeography of dung beetles is also examined to explore the previously proposed “out of Africa” hypothesis. Given the inferred age of Scarabaeinae as originating in the Lower Cretaceous, the major radiation of dung feeders prior to the Cenomanian, and the early divergence of both African and Gondwanan lineages, we hypothesise that that faunal exchange between Africa and Gondwanaland occurred during the earliest evolution of the Scarabaeinae. Therefore we propose that both Gondwanan vicariance and dispersal of African lineages is responsible for present day distribution of scarabaeine dung beetles and provide examples.

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<![CDATA[The bat community of Haiti and evidence for its long-term persistence at high elevations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5cab0ee8fa60be02c4

Accurate accounts of both living and fossil mammal communities are critical for creating biodiversity inventories and understanding patterns of changing species diversity through time. We combined data from from14 new fossil localities with literature accounts and museum records to document the bat biodiversity of Haiti through time. We also report an assemblage of late-Holocene (1600–600 Cal BP) bat fossils from a montane cave (Trouing Jean Paul, ~1825m) in southern Haiti. The nearly 3000 chiropteran fossils from Trouing Jean Paul represent 15 species of bats including nine species endemic to the Caribbean islands. The fossil bat assemblage from Trouing Jean Paul is dominated by species still found on Hispaniola (15 of 15 species), much as with the fossil bird assemblage from the same locality (22 of 23 species). Thus, both groups of volant vertebrates demonstrate long-term resilience, at least at high elevations, to the past 16 centuries of human presence on the island.

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<![CDATA[Similar Associations of Tooth Microwear and Morphology Indicate Similar Diet across Marsupial and Placental Mammals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db3eab0ee8fa60bd5d3c

Low-magnification microwear techniques have been used effectively to infer diets within many unrelated mammalian orders, but the extent to which patterns are comparable among such different groups, including long extinct mammal lineages, is unknown. Microwear patterns between ecologically equivalent placental and marsupial mammals are found to be statistically indistinguishable, indicating that microwear can be used to infer diet across the mammals. Microwear data were compared to body size and molar shearing crest length in order to develop a system to distinguish the diet of mammals. Insectivores and carnivores were difficult to distinguish from herbivores using microwear alone, but combining microwear data with body size estimates and tooth morphology provides robust dietary inferences. This approach is a powerful tool for dietary assessment of fossils from extinct lineages and from museum specimens of living species where field study would be difficult owing to the animal’s behavior, habitat, or conservation status.

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<![CDATA[Redescription and Phylogenetic Analysis of the Mandible of an Enigmatic Pennsylvanian (Late Carboniferous) Tetrapod from Nova Scotia, and the Lability of Meckelian Jaw Ossification]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da30ab0ee8fa60b844ac

The lower jaw of an unidentified Pennsylvanian (Late Carboniferous) tetrapod from Nova Scotia – the “Parrsboro jaw”- is redescribed in the light of recent tetrapod discoveries and work on evolution of tetrapod mandibular morphology and placed for the first time in a numerical cladistics analysis. All phylogenetic analyses place the jaw in a crownward polytomy of baphetids, temnospondyls, and embolomeres. Several features resemble baphetids and temnospondyls including dermal ornamentation, absence of coronoid teeth, and presence of coronoid shagreen. Dentary dentition is most similar to Baphetes. An adsymphysial toothplate may not preclude temnospondyl affinity. An apparent large exomeckelian fenestra, with the dorsal foraminal margins formed by an unossified element, echoes the morphology of the stem tetrapod Sigournea and is unusually primitive given the other features of the jaw. The jaw may thus provide an example of an intermediate stage in Meckelian element evolution.

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<![CDATA[A Ceratopsian Dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Western North America, and the Biogeography of Neoceratopsia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daeaab0ee8fa60bbeb8d

The fossil record for neoceratopsian (horned) dinosaurs in the Lower Cretaceous of North America primarily comprises isolated teeth and postcrania of limited taxonomic resolution, hampering previous efforts to reconstruct the early evolution of this group in North America. An associated cranium and lower jaw from the Cloverly Formation (?middle–late Albian, between 104 and 109 million years old) of southern Montana is designated as the holotype for Aquilops americanus gen. et sp. nov. Aquilops americanus is distinguished by several autapomorphies, including a strongly hooked rostral bone with a midline boss and an elongate and sharply pointed antorbital fossa. The skull in the only known specimen is comparatively small, measuring 84 mm between the tips of the rostral and jugal. The taxon is interpreted as a basal neoceratopsian closely related to Early Cretaceous Asian taxa, such as Liaoceratops and Auroraceratops. Biogeographically, A. americanus probably originated via a dispersal from Asia into North America; the exact route of this dispersal is ambiguous, although a Beringian rather than European route seems more likely in light of the absence of ceratopsians in the Early Cretaceous of Europe. Other amniote clades show similar biogeographic patterns, supporting an intercontinental migratory event between Asia and North America during the late Early Cretaceous. The temporal and geographic distribution of Upper Cretaceous neoceratopsians (leptoceratopsids and ceratopsoids) suggests at least intermittent connections between North America and Asia through the early Late Cretaceous, likely followed by an interval of isolation and finally reconnection during the latest Cretaceous.

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<![CDATA[PLoS Biology Issue Image | Vol. 16(3) March 2018]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5ae424c4463d7e02f65f0b93

Late Maastrichtian pterosaurs from North Africa and mass extinction of Pterosauria at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary

Pterosaurs were winged cousins of the dinosaurs and lived from around 200 million years ago to 66 million years ago, when the last pterosaurs disappeared during the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. The pterosaurs are thought to have declined in diversity before their final extinction, suggesting that gradual processes played a major role in their demise. However, this study by Longrich et al. describes hundreds of new pterosaur fossils from the end of the Cretaceous in Morocco, including as many as seven species. These represent three different families and show substantial variation in size and skeletal proportions, suggesting that they occupied a wide range of ecological niches. The image shows an artist's impression of diverse pterosaurs flying over the Moroccan coast 66 million years ago.

Image Credit: John Conway

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<![CDATA[New Cricetid Rodents from Strata near the Eocene-Oligocene Boundary in Erden Obo Section (Nei Mongol, China)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da58ab0ee8fa60b8f67f

New cricetids (Eucricetodon wangae sp. nov., Eucricetodon sp. and Pappocricetodon siziwangqiensis sp. nov.) are reported from the lower and middle parts of the “Upper Red” beds of the Erden Obo section in Nei Mongol, China. Eucricetodon wangae is more primitive than other known species of the genus from lower Oligocene of Asia and Europe in having a single anterocone on M1, a single connection between the protocone and the paracone, the anterior metalophule connection in M1-2 and weaker anteroconid and ectomesolophid in lower molars. Pappocricetodon siziwangqiensis is more advanced than other species of the genus in permanently missing P4 and having posterior protolophule connection. These fossils suggest that the age of the “Upper Red” of the Erden Obo section is younger than the age of the Upper Eocene Houldjin and Caijiachong formations, but older than those containing the Shandgolian faunas; the “Upper Red” is most closely correlative to the Ergilian beds in age, and probably close to the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. Given the age estimate, Eucricetodon wangae provides the new evidence to support that cricetid dispersal from Asia to Europe occurred prior to the Eocene-Oligocene boundary.

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<![CDATA[A New Upper Jurassic Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaur from the Slottsmøya Member, Agardhfjellet Formation of Central Spitsbergen]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa5ab0ee8fa60ba756e

Abundant new ichthyosaur material has recently been documented in the Slottsmøya Member of the Agardhfjellet Formation from the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. Here we describe a partial skeleton of a new taxon, Janusaurus lundi, that includes much of the skull and representative portions of the postcranium. The new taxon is diagnosed by a suite of cranial character states including a very gracile stapedial shaft, the presence of a dorsal process on the prearticular and autapomorphic postcranial features such as the presence of an interclavicular trough and a conspicuous anterodorsal process of the ilium. The peculiar morphology of the ilia indicates a previously unrecognized degree of morphological variation in the pelvic girdle of ophthalmosaurids. We also present a large species level phylogenetic analysis of ophthalmosaurids including new and undescribed ichthyosaur material from the Upper Jurassic of Svalbard. Our results recover all Svalbard taxa in a single unresolved polytomy nested within Ophthalmosaurinae, which considerably increases the taxonomic composition of this clade. The paleobiogeographical implications of this result suggest the presence of a single clade of Boreal ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs that existed during the latest Jurassic, a pattern also reflected in the high degree of endemicity among some Boreal invertebrates, particularly ammonoids. Recent and ongoing descriptions of marine reptiles from the Slottsmøya Member Lagerstätte provide important new data to test hypotheses of marine amniote faunal turnover at the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary.

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<![CDATA[Novel insight into the origin of the growth dynamics of sauropod dinosaurs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5fab0ee8fa60be1254

Sauropod dinosaurs include the largest terrestrial animals and are considered to have uninterrupted rapid rates of growth, which differs from their more basal relatives, which have a slower cyclical growth. Here we examine the bone microstructure of several sauropodomorph dinosaurs, including basal taxa, as well as the more derived sauropods. Although our results agree that the plesiomorphic condition for Sauropodomorpha is cyclical growth dynamics, we found that the hypothesized dichotomy between the growth patterns of basal and more derived sauropodomorphs is not supported. Here, we show that sauropod-like growth dynamics of uninterrupted rapid growth also occurred in some basal sauropodomorphs, and that some basal sauropods retained the plesiomorphic cyclical growth patterns. Among the sauropodomorpha it appears that the basal taxa exploited different growth strategies, but the more derived Eusauropoda successfully utilized rapid, uninterrupted growth strategies.

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<![CDATA[An Exceptionally Preserved Transitional Lungfish from the Lower Permian of Nebraska, USA, and the Origin of Modern Lungfishes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3aab0ee8fa60b87922

Complete, exceptionally-preserved skulls of the Permian lungfish Persephonichthys chthonica gen. et sp. nov. are described. Persephonichthys chthonica is unique among post-Devonian lungfishes in preserving portions of the neurocranium, permitting description of the braincase of a stem-ceratodontiform for the first time. The completeness of P. chthonica permits robust phylogenetic analysis of the relationships of the extant lungfish lineage within the Devonian lungfish diversification for the first time. New analyses of the relationships of this new species within two published matrices using both maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference robustly place P. chthonica and modern lungfishes within dipterid-grade dipnoans rather than within a clade containing Late Devonian ‘phaneropleurids’ and common Late Paleozoic lungfishes such as Sagenodus. Monophyly of post-Devonian lungfishes is not supported and the Carboniferous-Permian taxon Sagenodus is found to be incidental to the origins of modern lungfishes, suggesting widespread convergence in Late Paleozoic lungfishes. Morphology of the skull, hyoid arch, and pectoral girdle suggests a deviation in feeding mechanics from that of Devonian lungfishes towards the more dynamic gape cycle and more effective buccal pumping seen in modern lungfishes. Similar anatomy observed previously in ‘Rhinodipterus’ kimberyensis likely represents an intermediate state between the strict durophagy observed in most Devonian lungfishes and the more dynamic buccal pump seen in Persephonichthys and modern lungfishes, rather than adaptation to air-breathing exclusively.

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<![CDATA[Life-History Traits of the Miocene Hipparion concudense (Spain) Inferred from Bone Histological Structure]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da01ab0ee8fa60b74398

Histological analyses of fossil bones have provided clues on the growth patterns and life history traits of several extinct vertebrates that would be unavailable for classical morphological studies. We analyzed the bone histology of Hipparion to infer features of its life history traits and growth pattern. Microscope analysis of thin sections of a large sample of humeri, femora, tibiae and metapodials of Hipparion concudense from the upper Miocene site of Los Valles de Fuentidueña (Segovia, Spain) has shown that the number of growth marks is similar among the different limb bones, suggesting that equivalent skeletochronological inferences for this Hipparion population might be achieved by means of any of the elements studied. Considering their abundance, we conducted a skeletechronological study based on the large sample of third metapodials from Los Valles de Fuentidueña together with another large sample from the Upper Miocene locality of Concud (Teruel, Spain). The data obtained enabled us to distinguish four age groups in both samples and to determine that Hipparion concudense tended to reach skeletal maturity during its third year of life. Integration of bone microstructure and skeletochronological data allowed us to identify ontogenetic changes in bone structure and growth rate and to distinguish three histologic ontogenetic stages corresponding to immature, subadult and adult individuals. Data on secondary osteon density revealed an increase in bone remodeling throughout the ontogenetic stages and a lesser degree thereof in the Concud population, which indicates different biomechanical stresses in the two populations, likely due to environmental differences. Several individuals showed atypical growth patterns in the Concud sample, which may also reflect environmental differences between the two localities. Finally, classification of the specimens’ age within groups enabled us to characterize the age structure of both samples, which is typical of attritional assemblages.

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<![CDATA[Palaeolake isolation and biogeographical process of freshwater fishes in the Yellow River]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc58a

The Yellow River, one of the very few in the Earth, originated from many dispersive palaeolakes. Taking this unique advantage, we examined the roles of palaeolake isolation vs. geological processes vs. climate in determining current fish biogeographic pattern. We reviewed available data on fish species and their geographical distribution in the river, as well as palaeolake development, geological and climatic parameters. The 138 fish species recorded in the river could be divided into 8 biogeographic regions, corresponding to the distribution of palaeolakes and respective endemic species. Through variation partitioning analysis, palaeolake isolation was the most influential factor explaining 43.6% of the total variance on the current fish distribution. The Quaternary Ice Age produced a transitional distribution for fishes from the glacier to warm water, especially for the subfamily Schizothoracinae, which showed various degrees of specialisation along altitudes. We suggested that fish biogeography in the Yellow river was basically shaped by palaeolake isolation, and further carved under serials of geologic events and contemporary climate change.

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<![CDATA[Osteology of Pseudochampsa ischigualastensis gen. et comb. nov. (Archosauriformes: Proterochampsidae) from the Early Late Triassic Ischigualasto Formation of Northwestern Argentina]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da25ab0ee8fa60b804b9

Proterochampsids are crocodile-like, probably semi-aquatic, quadrupedal archosauriforms characterized by an elongated and dorsoventrally low skull. The group is endemic from the Middle-Late Triassic of South America. The most recently erected proterochampsid species is “Chanaresuchus ischigualastensis”, based on a single, fairly complete skeleton from the early Late Triassic Ischigualasto Formation of northwestern Argentina. We describe here in detail the non-braincase cranial and postcranial anatomy of this species and revisit its taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships. The phylogenetic analysis recovered ‘Chanaresuchus ischigualastensis’ as part of a trichotomy together with Gualosuchus reigi and Chanaresuchus bonapartei. Accordingly, “Chanaresuchus ischigualastensis” can be potentially more closely related to Gualosuchus reigi, or even Rhadinosuchus gracilis, than to Chanaresuchus bonapartei. In addition, after discussing previously claimed synapomorphies of Chanaresuchus, we could not find unambiguous support for the monophyly of the genus. As a result, we propose here the erection of the new genus Pseudochampsa for ‘Chanaresuchus ischigualastensis’, which results in the new combination Pseudochampsa ischigualastensis. The information provided here about the anatomy and taxonomy of Pseudochampsa ischiguaslastensis will be useful for future quantitative analyses focused on the biogeography and macroevolutionary history of proterochampsids.

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<![CDATA[The Early Origin of the Antarctic Marine Fauna and Its Evolutionary Implications]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9edab0ee8fa60b6d0a2

The extensive Late Cretaceous – Early Paleogene sedimentary succession of Seymour Island, N.E. Antarctic Peninsula offers an unparalleled opportunity to examine the evolutionary origins of a modern polar marine fauna. Some 38 modern Southern Ocean molluscan genera (26 gastropods and 12 bivalves), representing approximately 18% of the total modern benthic molluscan fauna, can now be traced back through at least part of this sequence. As noted elsewhere in the world, the balance of the molluscan fauna changes sharply across the Cretaceous – Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary, with gastropods subsequently becoming more diverse than bivalves. A major reason for this is a significant radiation of the Neogastropoda, which today forms one of the most diverse clades in the sea. Buccinoidea is the dominant neogastropod superfamily in both the Paleocene Sobral Formation (SF) (56% of neogastropod genera) and Early - Middle Eocene La Meseta Formation (LMF) (47%), with the Conoidea (25%) being prominent for the first time in the latter. This radiation of Neogastropoda is linked to a significant pulse of global warming that reached at least 65°S, and terminates abruptly in the upper LMF in an extinction event that most likely heralds the onset of global cooling. It is also possible that the marked Early Paleogene expansion of neogastropods in Antarctica is in part due to a global increase in rates of origination following the K/Pg mass extinction event. The radiation of this and other clades at ∼65°S indicates that Antarctica was not necessarily an evolutionary refugium, or sink, in the Early – Middle Eocene. Evolutionary source – sink dynamics may have been significantly different between the Paleogene greenhouse and Neogene icehouse worlds.

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<![CDATA[Mean Annual Precipitation Explains Spatiotemporal Patterns of Cenozoic Mammal Beta Diversity and Latitudinal Diversity Gradients in North America]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da96ab0ee8fa60ba1cc7

Spatial diversity patterns are thought to be driven by climate-mediated processes. However, temporal patterns of community composition remain poorly studied. We provide two complementary analyses of North American mammal diversity, using (i) a paleontological dataset (2077 localities with 2493 taxon occurrences) spanning 21 discrete subdivisions of the Cenozoic based on North American Land Mammal Ages (36 Ma – present), and (ii) climate space model predictions for 744 extant mammals under eight scenarios of future climate change. Spatial variation in fossil mammal community structure (β diversity) is highest at intermediate values of continental mean annual precipitation (MAP) estimated from paleosols (∼450 mm/year) and declines under both wetter and drier conditions, reflecting diversity patterns of modern mammals. Latitudinal gradients in community change (latitudinal turnover gradients, aka LTGs) increase in strength through the Cenozoic, but also show a cyclical pattern that is significantly explained by MAP. In general, LTGs are weakest when continental MAP is highest, similar to modern tropical ecosystems in which latitudinal diversity gradients are weak or undetectable. Projections under modeled climate change show no substantial change in β diversity or LTG strength for North American mammals. Our results suggest that similar climate-mediated mechanisms might drive spatial and temporal patterns of community composition in both fossil and extant mammals. We also provide empirical evidence that the ecological processes on which climate space models are based are insufficient for accurately forecasting long-term mammalian response to anthropogenic climate change and inclusion of historical parameters may be essential.

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