22 Works

Data from: Probabilistic methods surpass parsimony when assessing clade support in phylogenetic analyses of discrete morphological data

Joseph E. O'Reilly, Mark N. Puttick, Davide Pisani & Philip C. J. Donoghue
Fossil taxa are critical to inferences of historical diversity and the origins of modern biodiversity, but realizing their evolutionary significance is contingent on restoring fossil species to their correct position within the tree of life. For most fossil species, morphology is the only source of data for phylogenetic inference; this has traditionally been analysed using parsimony, the predominance of which is currently challenged by the development of probabilistic models that achieve greater phylogenetic accuracy. Here,...

Data from: Impact of the Late Triassic mass extinction on functional diversity and composition of marine ecosystems

Alexander M. Dunhill, William J. Foster, James Sciberras & Richard J. Twitchett
Mass extinctions have profoundly influenced the history of life, not only through the death of species but also through changes in ecosystem function and structure. Importantly, these events allow us the opportunity to study ecological dynamics under levels of environmental stress for which there are no recent analogues. Here, we examine the impact and selectivity of the Late Triassic mass extinction event on the functional diversity and functional composition of the global marine ecosystem, and...

Data from: New Middle Cambrian bivalved arthropod from the Burgess Shale (British Columbia, Canada)

David A. Legg & Jean-Bernard Caron
The morphology of two new bivalved arthropods, Loricicaris spinocaudatus gen. et sp. nov. and Nereocaris briggsi sp. nov. from the middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) Burgess Shale Formation (Collins Quarry locality on Mount Stephen, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada), is described. The material was originally assigned to the genus Branchiocaris, but exhibits distinctive character combinations meriting its assignment to other taxa. Loricicaris spinocaudatus possesses an elongate and spinose abdomen comparable to the contemporaneous...

Data from: Rates and processes of aeolian soil erosion in West Greenland

Ruth C. Heindel, Lauren E. Culler & Ross A. Virginia
In arid landscapes across the globe, aeolian processes are key drivers of landscape change, but arid Arctic regions are often overlooked. In the Kangerlussuaq region of West Greenland, strong katabatic winds have removed discrete patches of soil and vegetation, exposing unproductive glacial till and bedrock. Although lake-sediment records suggest that landscape destabilization began approximately 1000 years ago, the upland soil erosion has never been directly dated. We use a novel application of lichenometry to estimate...

Data from: Geo-climatic factors drive diatom community distribution in tropical South American freshwaters

Xavier Benito, Sherilyn Fritz, Miriam Steinitz-Kannan, Pedro M. Tapia, Meredith A. Kelly, Thomas V. Lowell & Sherilyn C. Fritz
1.Patterns that maintain and generate biodiversity of macro-organisms in the Neotropics are widely discussed in the scientific literature, yet the spatial ecology of microorganisms is largely unknown. The unique character of the tropical Andes and adjacent Amazon lowlands generates a wide gradient of environmental conditions to advance our understanding of what drives community assembly and diversity processes. 2.We analyzed the distribution patterns of benthic diatoms (unicellular siliceous algae) as a model group of microbial passive...

Data from: Accounting for differences in species frequency distributions when calculating beta diversity in the fossil record

Neil Brocklehurst, Michael O. Day & Jörg Fröbisch
1. Beta diversity is a measure of the taxonomic differentiation between habitats/localities within an assemblage, and is normally calculated as a set of pairwise taxonomic “distances” between the localities. 2. Due to the incomplete sampling, beta diversity estimates for fossil assemblages will always be higher than the true value. However, the difference between the observed and true distances will vary greatly depending on differences in the shape of the relative abundance distribution. 3. Using simulations,...

Data from: Mosaicism in a new Eocene pufferfish highlights rapid morphological innovation near the origin of crown tetraodontiforms

Roger A. Close, Zerina Johanson, James C. Tyler, Richard C. Harrington & Matt Friedman
Tetraodontiformes (pufferfishes and kin) is a taxonomically and structurally diverse, widely-distributed clade of acanthomorphs, whose members often serve as models for genomics and, increasingly, macroevolutionary studies. Morphologically disparate Palaeogene fossils suggest considerable early experimentation, but these flattened specimens often preserve limited information. We present a three-dimensionally preserved beaked tetraodontiform from the early Eocene (c. 53 Ma) London Clay Formation, UK. Approximately coeval with the oldest crown tetraodontiforms, †Ctenoplectus williamsi gen. et sp. nov. presents an...

Data from: Evolutionary origins of teeth in jawed vertebrates: conflicting data from acanthothoracid dental plates (‘Placodermi’)

Moya Meredith Smith, Brett Clark, Daniel Goujet & Zerina Johanson
Placoderms (Devonian fossil fishes) are resolved phylogenetically to the base of jawed vertebrates and provide important evidence for evolutionary origins of teeth, particularly with respect to the Arthrodira. The arthrodires represent a derived group of placoderms; the dentition of other more primitive placoderms such as the acanthothoracids is less well known. Articulated acanthothoracid dental plates are rare; x-ray computed tomography of a single, unique specimen, along with 3D segmentation of bone, oral denticles and vascular...

Data from: Pulmonary anatomy and a case of unilateral aplasia in a common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina): developmental perspectives on cryptodiran lungs

Emma R. Schachner, Jayc C. Sedlmayr, Renée Schott, Tyler R. Lyson, R. Kent Sanders & Markus Lambertz
The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a well studied and broadly distributed member of Testudines; however, very little is known concerning developmental anomalies and soft tissue pathologies of turtles and other reptiles. Here, we present an unusual case of unilateral pulmonary aplasia, asymmetrical carapacial kyphosis, and mild scoliosis in a live adult C. serpentina. The detailed three-dimensional (3D) anatomy of the respiratory system in both the pathological and normal adult C. serpentina, and a...

Using 2D dental geometric morphometrics to identify modern Perognathus and Chaetodipus specimens (Rodentia, Heteromyidae)

Megan R Wyatt, Samantha S B Hopkins & Edward B Davis
The Heteromyidae (pocket mice and kangaroo rats) are a group of extant small rodents abundant in western North America, as well as in fossil assemblages over the last 20 million years. Two genera of heteromyids, Chaetodipus and Perognathus, share similar tooth morphology and teeth are the primary fossil remains. Previous genetic studies show these extant sister genera likely diverged in the middle Miocene (~16 million years ago); however, the Chaetodipus fossil record starts in the...

Data from: The oldest known bryozoan: Prophyllodictya (Cryptostomata) from the lower Tremadocian (Lower Ordovician) of Liujiachang, southwestern Hubei, central China

Junye Ma, Paul D. Taylor, Fengsheng Xia & Renbin Zhan
A new cryptostome bryozoan, Prophyllodictya simplex sp. nov., is described from the Nantzinkuan Formation (Lower Ordovician, lower Tremadoc) of Liujiachang, central China. This antedates the previously oldest known bryozoan by several million years. Colony morphology and the phylogenetic position of Prophyllodictya within Cryptostomata are explored. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that Cryptostomata (except Prophyllodictya) can be divided into two major groups, and that Prophyllodictya occupies a basal position in the cryptostome tree, which accords with its simple...

Data from: A new western European Cretaceous bryozoan genus from the early Cenomanian radiation of neocheilostomes

Silviu O. Martha & Paul D. Taylor
Neocheilostomes possessing ovicells for larval brooding originated in the late Albian and radiated explosively in the Late Cretaceous. Our understanding of this radiation is hampered by poor knowledge of the taxonomy of the earliest neocheilostomes. Here we describe a new neocheilostome genus, Ehrhardina, from shallow-water sediments in the early Cenomanian of Western Europe. Two species (Ehrhardina voigti sp. nov. and E. pikeae sp. nov.) are referred to the new genus. Ehrhardina gen. nov. is an...

Data from: Two new species of Ichthyosaurus from the lowermost Jurassic (Hettangian) of Somerset, England

Dean R. Lomax & Judy A. Massare
All specimens of Ichthyosaurus from the Lower Jurassic of Somerset were previously identified as I. communis, an abundant and extremely variable species. Here, two new species of Ichthyosaurus are recognized from multiple specimens. The species are assigned to Ichthyosaurus on the basis of the humerus, pectoral girdle and forefin morphologies. I. larkini sp. nov. is distinguished by a broad jugal with a blunt anterior end that extends as far forward as the middle of the...

Data from: Relative size predicts competitive outcome through 2 million years

Lee Hsiang Liow, Emanuela Di Martino, Malgorzata Krzeminska, Mali Ramsfjell, Seabourne Rust, Paul D. Taylor & Kjetil L. Voje
Competition is an important biotic interaction that influences survival and reproduction. While competition on ecological timescales has received great attention, little is known about competition on evolutionary timescales. Do competitive abilities change over hundreds of thousands to millions of years? Can we predict competitive outcomes using phenotypic traits? How much do traits that confer competitive advantage and competitive outcomes change? Here we show, using communities of encrusting marine bryozoans spanning more than 2 million years,...

Data from: Plant controls on Late Quaternary whole ecosystem structure and function

Elizabeth S. Jeffers, Nicki J. Whitehouse, Adrian Lister, Gill Plunkett, Phil Barratt, Emma Smyth, Philip Lamb, Michael W. Dee, Stephen J. Brooks, Katherine J. Willis, Cynthia A. Froyd, Jenny E. Watson & Michael B. Bonsall
Plants and animals influence biomass production and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems; however their relative importance remains unclear. We assessed the extent to which mega-herbivore species controlled plant community composition and nutrient cycling, relative to other factors during and after the Late Quaternary extinction event in Britain and Ireland, when two-thirds of the region’s mega-herbivore species went extinct. Warmer temperatures, plant-soil and plant-plant interactions, and reduced burning contributed to the expansion of woody plants and...

Data from: Comparative cranial myology and biomechanics of Plateosaurus and Camarasaurus and evolution of the sauropod feeding apparatus

David J. Button, Paul M. Barrett & Emily J. Rayfield
Sauropodomorpha represents an important group of Mesozoic megaherbivores, and includes the largest terrestrial animals ever known. It was the first dinosaur group to become abundant and widespread, and its members formed a significant component of terrestrial ecosystems from the Late Triassic until the end of the Cretaceous. Both of these factors have been explained by their adoption of herbivory, but understanding the evolution of sauropodomorph feeding has been hampered by the scarcity of biomechanical studies....

Data from: Endoskeletal structure in Cheirolepis (Osteichthyes, Actinopterygii), an early ray-finned fish

Sam Giles, Michael I. Coates, Russell J. Garwood, Martin D. Brazeau, Robert Atwood, Zerina Johanson & Matt Friedman
As the sister lineage of all other actinopterygians, the Middle to Late Devonian (Eifelian–Frasnian) Cheirolepis occupies a pivotal position in vertebrate phylogeny. Although the dermal skeleton of this taxon has been exhaustively described, very little of its endoskeleton is known, leaving questions of neurocranial and fin evolution in early ray-finned fishes unresolved. The model for early actinopterygian anatomy has instead been based largely on the Late Devonian (Frasnian) Mimipiscis, preserved in stunning detail from the...

Data from: Skeletal adaptations and phylogeny of the oldest mole Eotalpa (Talpidae, Lipotyphla, Mammalia) from the UK Eocene: the beginning of fossoriality in moles

Jerry J. Hooker
The oldest talpid, Eotalpa, was previously known only from isolated cheek teeth from the European late Middle Eocene to earliest Oligocene. Screenwashing of Late Eocene sediments of the Hampshire Basin, UK, has yielded cranial and postcranial elements: maxilla, dentary, ulna, metacarpals, distal tibia, astragalus, calcaneum, metatarsals and phalanges. In addition to M1–2 myotodonty, typical talpid features are as follows: ulna with long medially curved olecranon and deep abductor fossa and astragalar body with lateral process....

Data from: The oldest erect cheilostome bryozoan: Jablonskipora gen. nov. from the upper Albian of south-west England

Silviu O. Martha & Paul D. Taylor
Although dominant at the present day, the bryozoan order Cheilostomata did not appear until the Late Jurassic. For over 55 million years after their first appearance, cheilostomes remained low in diversity and disparity, exclusively encrusting and scant in the fossil record. During the late Albian, however, cheilostomes began an explosive diversification coinciding with the appearance of several key novelties. In this paper, we describe a new monospecific cheilostome genus, Jablonskipora gen. nov. (type species Jablonskipora...

Data from: Morphology and phylogenetic relationships of fossil snake mackerels and cutlassfishes (Trichiuroidea) from the Eocene (Ypresian) London Clay Formation

Hermione T. Beckett, Sam Giles, Zerina Johanson & Matt Friedman
‘Gempylids’ (snake mackerels) and trichiurids (cutlassfishes) are pelagic fishes characterised by slender to eel-like bodies, deep-sea predatory ecologies, and large fang-like teeth. Several hypotheses of relationships between these groups have been proposed, but a consensus remains elusive. Fossils attributed to ‘gempylids’ and trichiurids consist almost exclusively of highly compressed body fossils and isolated teeth and otoliths. We use micro-computed tomography to redescribe two three-dimensional crania, historically assigned to †Eutrichiurides winkleri and †Progempylus edwardsi, as well...

Data from: Evolution of vertebrate postcranial complexity: axial skeleton regionalization and paired appendages in a Devonian jawless fish

Marion Chevrinais, Zerina Johanson, Kate Trinajstic, John Long, Catherine Morel, Claude B. Renaud & Richard Cloutier
One of the major events in vertebrate evolution involves the transition from jawless (agnathan) to jawed (gnathostome) vertebrates, including a variety of cranial and postcranial innovations. It has long been assumed that characters such as the pelvic girdles and fins, male intromittent organs independent from the pelvic girdles, as well as a regionalized axial skeleton first appeared in various basal gnathostome groups if not at the origin of gnathostomes. Here we describe the first occurrence...

Reduced sexual size dimorphism in a pipefish population where males do not prefer larger females

Nuno Monteiro, Mário Cunha, Nídia Macedo, Jonathan Wilson, Gunilla Rosenqvist & Anders Berglund
Within a species’ distribution, populations are often exposed to diverse environments and may thus experience different sources of both natural and sexual selection. These differences are likely to impact the balance between costs and benefits to individuals seeking reproduction, thus entailing evolutionary repercussions. Here, we look into an unusual population (Baltic Sea) of the broadnosed pipefish, Syngnathus typhle, where males do not seem to select females based on size and hypothesise that this pattern may...

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