A. R. H. LeBlanc, M. J. MacDougall, Y. Haridy, D. Scott & R. R. Reisz (2018)
Caudal autotomy as anti-predatory behaviour in Palaeozoic reptiles.
Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 3328 (2018)
Many lizards can drop a portion of their tail in response to an attack by a predator, a behaviour known as caudal autotomy. The capacity for intravertebral autotomy among modern reptiles suggests that it evolved in the lepidosaur branch of reptilian evolution, because no such vertebral features are known in turtles or crocodilians. Here we present the first detailed evidence of the oldest known case of caudal autotomy, found only among members of the Early Permian captorhinids, a group of ancient reptiles that diversified extensively and gained a near global distribution before the end-PermianÂ mass extinction event of the Palaeozoic. Histological and SEM evidence show that these early reptiles were the first amniotes that could autotomize their tails, likely as an anti-predatory behaviour. As in modern iguanid lizards, smaller captorhinids were able to drop their tails as juveniles, presumably as a mechanism to evade a predator, whereas larger individuals may have gradually lost this ability. Caudal autotomy in captorhinid reptiles highlights the antiquity of this anti-predator behaviour in a small member of a terrestrial community composed predominantly of larger amphibian and synapsid predators.
Jan Werner, Nikolaos Sfakianakis, Alan D.Rendall & Eva Maria Griebeler (2018)
Energy intake functions and energy budgets of ectotherms and endotherms derived from their ontogenetic growth in body mass and timing of sexual maturation.
Journal of Theoretical Biology 444: 83-92
Energy budget models for ectothermic and endothermic vertebrates were developed.
Energy intake functions were derived from body mass growth.
Models are well-posed and attain a unique solution for (almost) every parameter set.
As empirical observed, energy is used for body heat instead of growth in endotherms.
Offers an explanation on differences in energy intake between ecto- and emdotherms.
Ectothermic and endothermic vertebrates differ not only in their source of body temperature (environment vs. metabolism), but also in growth patterns, in timing of sexual maturation within life, and energy intake functions. Here, we present a mathematical model applicable to ectothermic and endothermic vertebrates. It is designed to test whether differences in the timing of sexual maturation within an animal's life (age at which sexual maturity is reached vs. longevity) together with its ontogenetic gain in body mass (growth curve) can predict the energy intake throughout the animal's life (food intake curve) and can explain differences in energy partitioning (between growth, reproduction, heat production and maintenance, with the latter subsuming any other additional task requiring energy) between ectothermic and endothermic vertebrates. With our model we calculated from the growth curves and ages at which species reached sexual maturity energy intake functions and energy partitioning for five ectothermic and seven endothermic vertebrate species. We show that our model produces energy intake patterns and distributions as observed in ectothermic and endothermic species. Our results comply consistently with some empirical studies that in endothermic species, like birds and mammals, energy is used for heat production instead of growth, and with a hypothesis on the evolution of endothermy in amniotes published by us before. Our model offers an explanation on known differences in absolute energy intake between ectothermic fish and reptiles and endothermic birds and mammals. From a mathematical perspective, the model comes in two equivalent formulations, a differential and an integral one. It is derived from a discrete level approach, and it is shown to be well-posed and to attain a unique solution for (almost) every parameter set. Numerically, the integral formulation of the model is considered as an inverse problem with unknown parameters that are estimated using a series of empirical data.