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Marine crocodylomorph evolution related to sea temperature

Ben Creisler

A new online paper:

Jeremy E. Martin, Romain Amiot, Christophe Lécuyer & Michael J. Benton (2014)
Sea surface temperature contributes to marine crocodylomorph evolution.
Nature Communications 5, Article number: 4658

During the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, four distinct crocodylomorph
lineages colonized the marine environment. They were conspicuously
absent from high latitudes, which in the Mesozoic were occupied by
warm-blooded ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Despite a relatively
well-constrained stratigraphic distribution, the varying diversities
of marine crocodylomorphs are poorly understood, because their
extinctions neither coincided with any major biological crises nor
with the advent of potential competitors. Here we test the potential
link between their evolutionary history in terms of taxic diversity
and two abiotic factors, sea level variations and sea surface
temperatures (SST). Excluding Metriorhynchoidea, which may have had a
peculiar ecology, significant correlations obtained between generic
diversity and estimated Tethyan SST suggest that water temperature was
a driver of marine crocodylomorph diversity. Being most probably
ectothermic reptiles, these lineages colonized the marine realm and
diversified during warm periods, then declined or became extinct
during cold intervals.