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[dinosaur] Nocturnal origins of modern mammals + Miocene rails + Pterosaur "pre-fleas"

Ben Creisler

Some recent and not so recent items, mainly non-dino:

Abstracts from 2016 not yet mentioned:

17th Annual Meeting of the Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik (21. – 24. February 2016) Abstracts
Zitteliana 88


a few dino-related items:


Using the brain’ for phylogenetic and paleobiological inferences
in early dinosaurs and sauropodomorphs
Oral Presentation Student Prize
Mario Bronzati &, Oliver W. M. Rauhut
Geometric morphometric analysis applied to theropod
ichnotaxonomy: some examples from the Iberian peninsula
Poster Presentation
Diego Castanera, Jorge Colmenar, Victor Sauqué,
Laura Piñuela, José Carlos
Endocranial anatomy of a marine crocodylomorpha
(Thalattosuchia): a preliminary study
Poster Presentation
Yanina Herrera

The evolution and diversity of sauropods from the early
Middle Jurassic Cañadón Asfálto Formation, Patagonia,
Oral Presentation Student Prize
Femke M. Holwerda, Oliver W. M. Rauhut, Diego Pol

New discoveries and the radiation and faunal replacements
in tetanuran theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic
Oral Presentation
Oliver W. M. Rauhut



Roi Maor, Tamar Dayan, Henry Ferguson-Gow & Kate Jones (2017)
Temporal Niche Expansion In Mammals From A Nocturnal Ancestor After Dinosaur Extinction
BioRxiv (preprint MS)
doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/123273

Most modern mammals, including strictly diurnal species, exhibit sensory adaptations to nocturnal activity, thought to be the result of a prolonged nocturnal phase or ‘bottleneck’ during early mammalian evolution. Nocturnality may have allowed mammals to avoid antagonistic interactions with diurnal dinosaurs during the Mesozoic. However, understanding the evolution of mammalian activity patterns is hindered by scant and ambiguous fossil evidence. While ancestral reconstructions of behavioural traits from extant species have the potential to elucidate these patterns, existing studies have been limited in taxonomic scope. Here, we use an extensive behavioural dataset for 2415 species from all extant orders to reconstruct ancestral activity patterns across Mammalia. We find strong support for the nocturnal origin of mammals and the Cenozoic appearance of diurnality, although cathemerality (mixed diel periodicity) may have appeared in the late Cretaceous. Simian primates are among the earliest mammals to exhibit strict diurnal activity, some 52-33Mya. Our study is consistent with the hypothesis that temporal partitioning between early mammals and dinosaurs during the Mesozoic led to a mammalian nocturnal bottleneck, but also demonstrates the need for improved phylogenetic estimates for Mammalia.


Cenozic birds

N. V. Zelenkov (2017)
Revision of non-passeriform birds from Polgárdi (Hungary, Upper Miocene): 3. Neoaves.
Paleontological Journal 51(2): 203–213
DOI: 10.1134/S0031030117020162

A taxonomic revision of Upper Miocene Neoaves from Polgárdi locality is summarized. Rallicrex polgardiensis is transferred to the genus Rallus. The taxonomic position of R. kolozsvarensis is discussed. Porzana estramosi veterior and P. kretzoii are transferred to the genus Zapornia former is ranked as species. It is shown that the material referred to Egretta polgardiensis, Surnia robusta, and Otis kalmani actually belong to the fossil barn owl Tyto campiterrae. The genera Cuculus and Tetrao are identified incorrectly and several other taxa cannot be identified to genus. A fragmentary carpometacarpus originally referred to as Gallinago veterior actually belongs to Glareolidae. A complete list of revised non-passeriform taxa from Polgárdi is provided and the composition of the avifauna is discussed. The absence of taxa shared with approximately contemporaneous avian assemblage from the Hyargas-Nuur 2 locality in eastern Mongolia is evidence that at least two separate zoogeographical units of temperate avifaunas existed in the Late Miocene of Eurasia.


Nikita V. Zelenkov, Andrey V. Panteleyev & Vanesa L. De Pietri (2017)
Late Miocene rails (Aves: Rallidae) from southwestern Russia
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1007/s12549-017-0276-1

The Miocene was an important period for the assembly of present-day avian faunas of the North Temperate Zone. Details of this process, however, remain largely unexplored due to the scarcity of diverse late Miocene avian localities throughout the Eurasian continent. Here, we present a survey of the osteological diversity of extant rails and, based on these results, assess the diversity of rails from the late Miocene (7.5–7.1 Ma) locality Morskaya-2 in the south of European Russia. We document three taxa, two of which are described as Crexica crexica gen. et sp. nov. and Miohypotaenidia tanaisensis gen. et sp. nov. These taxa show affinities with the modern species Crex crex and Hypotaenidia (Gallirallus) philippensis respectively and thus may represent the oldest records of the Crex and Hypotaenidia-Gallirallus lineages in the fossil record. The taxonomic composition of rails from Morskaya-2 locality considerably differs from that observed at the roughly coeval locality Polgárdi in Hungary, which likely reflects palaeogeographic differences during the late Miocene in Europe. Although Central Europe was already inhabited by modern-type rails in the late Miocene, more ancestral groups were present in the East. Some other aspects of the evolution of the modern fauna of Rallidae are discussed.


Joseph Brown, Ning Wang & Stephen Smith (2017)

The development of scientific consensus: analyzing conflict and concordance among Avian phylogenies.

BioRxiv (preprint MS)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/123034



Recent developments in phylogenetic methods and data acquisition have allowed for the construction of large and comprehensive phylogenetic relationships. Published phylogenies represent an enormous resource that not only facilitate the resolution of questions related to comparative biology, but also provide a resource on which to gauge the development of consensus across the tree of life. From the Open Tree of Life, we gathered 290 avian phylogenies representing all major groups that have been published over the last few decades and analyzed how concordance and conflict develop among these trees through time. Nine large scale backbone trees (including a new synthesis tree from this study) were used for the consensus assessment. We found that conflicts were over-represented along the backbone (higher-level relationships) of the avian phylogeny and within Passeriformes. Importantly, although we have made major strides in our knowledge of major clades, recent published comprehensive trees, as well as trees of individual clades, continue to contribute significantly to the resolution of clades in the avian phylogeny. These findings are somewhat unexpected, given that birds constitute a relatively well-studied and small clade of the tree of life (i.e., Aves). Therefore, our analysis highlights that much work is still needed before we can confidently resolve the less well studied areas of the tree of life.


Pterosaur parasite "pre-fleas" 

A. P. Rasnitsyn and  O. D. Strelnikova (2017)
Tracheal system and biology of the Early Cretaceous Saurophthirus longipes Ponomarenko, 1976 (Insecta, ?Aphaniptera, Saurophthiroidea stat. nov.).
Paleontological Journal 51(2): 171–182
DOI: 10.1134/S0031030117020137

The tracheal system of Saurophthiridae is described based on female fossils of Saurophthirus longipes Ponomarenko, 1976. Three very wide tracheal trunks are found running dorsolaterally along each side of the body. The tracheal system is amphipneustic, with the large mesothoracic and very large 8th abdominal spiracles. The 9th and following segments are able to turn back to open posterior spiracles for breathing. Taken together, these features are characteristic of air breathing aquatic insects. This urges us to modify the former hypothesis about parasitism of Saurophthirus on pterosaur wing membrane. We suppose that Saurophthirus females had gonotrophic cycles: they imbibed blood enough for maturation of a large egg batch, then retreated to a water body as a safe place for digesting and egg maturation, and after oviposition climbed onto emergent plants and waited for pterosaurs patrolling over the water and looking for fish, to start a new cycle. The families Saurophthiridae, Pseudopulicidae, and Tarwiniidae are united in the superfamily Saurophthiroidea Ponomarenko, 1986, stat. nov.


D. E. Shcherbakov (2017)
Cretaceous Saurophthiridae (Aphaniptera) as pupiparous pre-fleas of diving pterosaurs.
Paleontological Journal 51(2): 183-185
DOI: 10.1134/S0031030117020149

By analogy with bat ectoparasites, it is assumed that Saurophthirus, a permanent ectoparasite of pterosaurs, was pupiparous (the female gave birth to a mature larva, which pupated immediately). The enlarged tracheal trunks containing air for the larva developing in the mother’s uterus indicate that Saurophthirus was a parasite of diving pterosaurs. The Saurophthiridae are the first Mesozoic insect group supposed to be pupiparous.