ResearchPad - vertebrate-paleontology 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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![CDATA[Cranial Growth and Variation in Edmontosaurs (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae): Implications for Latest Cretaceous Megaherbivore Diversity in North America]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3bab0ee8fa60b88033

The well-sampled Late Cretaceous fossil record of North America remains the only high-resolution dataset for evaluating patterns of dinosaur diversity leading up to the terminal Cretaceous extinction event. Hadrosaurine hadrosaurids (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) closely related to Edmontosaurus are among the most common megaherbivores in latest Campanian and Maastrichtian deposits of western North America. However, interpretations of edmontosaur species richness and biostratigraphy have been in constant flux for almost three decades, although the clade is generally thought to have undergone a radiation in the late Maastrichtian. We address the issue of edmontosaur diversity for the first time using rigorous morphometric analyses of virtually all known complete edmontosaur skulls. Results suggest only two valid species, Edmontosaurus regalis from the late Campanian, and E. annectens from the late Maastrichtian, with previously named taxa, including the controversial Anatotitan copei, erected on hypothesized transitional morphologies associated with ontogenetic size increase and allometric growth. A revision of North American hadrosaurid taxa suggests a decrease in both hadrosaurid diversity and disparity from the early to late Maastrichtian, a pattern likely also present in ceratopsid dinosaurs. A decline in the disparity of dominant megaherbivores in the latest Maastrichtian interval supports the hypothesis that dinosaur diversity decreased immediately preceding the end Cretaceous extinction event.

]]>
<![CDATA[A New Genus of Aplodontid Rodent (Mammalia, Rodentia) from the Late Oligocene of Northern Junggar Basin, China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daffab0ee8fa60bc5dd2

A new genus and species of aplodontid rodent, Proansomys dureensis, from the late Oligocene of the northern Junggar Basin of China is described. The new genus is referred to as Ansomyinae because the ectoloph on the upper cheek teeth, although not fully crested, has attained the same characteristic bucket-handle-shaped configuration as other members of the subfamily. It represents the earliest record of the subfamily yet discovered in Asia and is more plesiomorphic than species of the genus Ansomys in having a partly crested ectoloph, a lower degree of lophodonty, and less complex tooth basins (lacking accessory lophules). Proansomys has transitional features between Prosciurus and Ansomys, suggesting that the Ansomyinae derived from a group of aplodontids related to Prosciurus, as did other advanced aplodontid rodents. This provides new light on the paleobiogeography of the Ansomyinae.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![CDATA[Pleistocene Climate, Phylogeny, and Climate Envelope Models: An Integrative Approach to Better Understand Species' Response to Climate Change]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da4bab0ee8fa60b8cc02

Mean annual temperature reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change increases at least 1.1°C to 6.4°C over the next 90 years. In context, a change in climate of 6°C is approximately the difference between the mean annual temperature of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and our current warm interglacial. Species have been responding to changing climate throughout Earth's history and their previous biological responses can inform our expectations for future climate change. Here we synthesize geological evidence in the form of stable oxygen isotopes, general circulation paleoclimate models, species' evolutionary relatedness, and species' geographic distributions. We use the stable oxygen isotope record to develop a series of temporally high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions spanning the Middle Pleistocene to Recent, which we use to map ancestral climatic envelope reconstructions for North American rattlesnakes. A simple linear interpolation between current climate and a general circulation paleoclimate model of the LGM using stable oxygen isotope ratios provides good estimates of paleoclimate at other time periods. We use geologically informed rates of change derived from these reconstructions to predict magnitudes and rates of change in species' suitable habitat over the next century. Our approach to modeling the past suitable habitat of species is general and can be adopted by others. We use multiple lines of evidence of past climate (isotopes and climate models), phylogenetic topology (to correct the models for long-term changes in the suitable habitat of a species), and the fossil record, however sparse, to cross check the models. Our models indicate the annual rate of displacement in a clade of rattlesnakes over the next century will be 2 to 3 orders of magnitude greater (430-2,420 m/yr) than it has been on average for the past 320 ky (2.3 m/yr).

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![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.

]]>
<![CDATA[Rise of the Earliest Tetrapods: An Early Devonian Origin from Marine Environment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da59ab0ee8fa60b8f747

Tetrapod fossil tracks are known from the Middle Devonian (Eifelian at ca. 397 million years ago - MYA), and their earliest bony remains from the Upper Devonian (Frasnian at 375–385 MYA). Tetrapods are now generally considered to have colonized land during the Carboniferous (i.e., after 359 MYA), which is considered to be one of the major events in the history of life. Our analysis on tetrapod evolution was performed using molecular data consisting of 13 proteins from 17 species and different paleontological data. The analysis on the molecular data was performed with the program TreeSAAP and the results were analyzed to see if they had implications on the paleontological data collected. The results have shown that tetrapods evolved from marine environments during times of higher oxygen levels. The change in environmental conditions played a major role in their evolution. According to our analysis this evolution occurred at about 397–416 MYA during the Early Devonian unlike previously thought. This idea is supported by various environmental factors such as sea levels and oxygen rate, and biotic factors such as biodiversity of arthropods and coral reefs. The molecular data also strongly supports lungfish as tetrapod's closest living relative.

]]>
<![CDATA[Comparison of Handaxes from Bose Basin (China) and the Western Acheulean Indicates Convergence of Form, Not Cognitive Differences]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da65ab0ee8fa60b91c68

Alleged differences between Palaeolithic assemblages from eastern Asia and the west have been the focus of controversial discussion for over half a century, most famously in terms of the so-called ‘Movius Line’. Recent discussion has centered on issues of comparability between handaxes from eastern Asian and ‘Acheulean’ examples from western portions of the Old World. Here, we present a multivariate morphometric analysis in order to more fully document how Mid-Pleistocene (i.e. ∼803 Kyr) handaxes from Bose Basin, China compare to examples from the west, as well as with additional (Mode 1) cores from across the Old World. Results show that handaxes from both the western Old World and Bose are significantly different from the Mode 1 cores, suggesting a gross comparability with regard to functionally-related form. Results also demonstrate overlap between the ranges of shape variation in Acheulean handaxes and those from Bose, demonstrating that neither raw material nor cognitive factors were an absolute impediment to Bose hominins in making comparable handaxe forms to their hominin kin west of the Movius Line. However, the shapes of western handaxes are different from the Bose examples to a statistically significant degree. Moreover, the handaxe assemblages from the western Old World are all more similar to each other than any individual assemblage is to the Bose handaxes. Variation in handaxe form is also comparatively high for the Bose material, consistent with suggestions that they represent an emergent, convergent instance of handaxe technology authored by Pleistocene hominins with cognitive capacities directly comparable to those of ‘Acheulean’ hominins.

]]>
<![CDATA[On the Origin and Trigger of the Notothenioid Adaptive Radiation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf7ab0ee8fa60bc32f6

Adaptive radiation is usually triggered by ecological opportunity, arising through (i) the colonization of a new habitat by its progenitor; (ii) the extinction of competitors; or (iii) the emergence of an evolutionary key innovation in the ancestral lineage. Support for the key innovation hypothesis is scarce, however, even in textbook examples of adaptive radiation. Antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) have been proposed as putative key innovation for the adaptive radiation of notothenioid fishes in the ice-cold waters of Antarctica. A crucial prerequisite for this assumption is the concurrence of the notothenioid radiation with the onset of Antarctic sea ice conditions. Here, we use a fossil-calibrated multi-marker phylogeny of nothothenioid and related acanthomorph fishes to date AFGP emergence and the notothenioid radiation. All time-constraints are cross-validated to assess their reliability resulting in six powerful calibration points. We find that the notothenioid radiation began near the Oligocene-Miocene transition, which coincides with the increasing presence of Antarctic sea ice. Divergence dates of notothenioids are thus consistent with the key innovation hypothesis of AFGP. Early notothenioid divergences are furthermore congruent with vicariant speciation and the breakup of Gondwana.

]]>