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[dinosaur] Mammal backbone evolution + Lower Triassic Gondwanan tanystropheids + frog skull evolution (free pdfs)

Ben Creisler

Some new non-dino papers with free pdfs:


Katrina E. Jones, Lorena Benitez, Kenneth D. Angielczyk and Stephanie E. Pierce (2018)
Adaptation and constraint in the evolution of the mammalian backbone.
BMC Evolutionary Biology 18:172

Free pdf:

The axial skeleton consists of repeating units (vertebrae) that are integrated through their development and evolution. Unlike most tetrapods, vertebrae in the mammalian trunk are subdivided into distinct thoracic and lumbar modules, resulting in a system that is constrained in terms of count but highly variable in morphology. This study asks how thoracolumbar regionalization has impacted adaptation and evolvability across mammals. Using geometric morphometrics, we examine evolutionary patterns in five vertebral positions from diverse mammal species encompassing a broad range of locomotor ecologies. We quantitatively compare the effects of phylogenetic and allometric constraints, and ecological adaptation between regions, and examine their impact on evolvability (disparity and evolutionary rate) of serially-homologous vertebrae.

Although phylogenetic signal and allometry are evident throughout the trunk, the effect of locomotor ecology is partitioned between vertebral positions. Lumbar vertebral shape correlates most strongly with ecology, differentiating taxa based on their use of asymmetric gaits. Similarly, disparity and evolutionary rates are also elevated posteriorly, indicating a link between the lumbar region, locomotor adaptation, and evolvability.

Vertebral regionalization in mammals has facilitated rapid evolution of the posterior trunk in response to selection for locomotion and static body support.


Eglantine Heude, Marketa Tesarova, Elizabeth M Sefton, Estelle Jullian, Noritaka Adachi, Alexandre Grimaldi, Tomas Zikmund, Jozef Kaiser, Gabrielle Kardon, Robert G Kelly & Shahragim Tajbakhsh (2018)
Unique morphogenetic signatures define mammalian neck muscles and associated connective tissues.
eLife 2018;7:e40179Â
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.40179

Free pdf download:

In vertebrates, head and trunk muscles develop from different mesodermal populations and are regulated by distinct genetic networks. Neck muscles at the head-trunk interface remain poorly defined due to their complex morphogenesis and dual mesodermal origins. Here, we use genetically modified mice to establish a 3D model that integrates regulatory genes, cell populations and morphogenetic events that define this transition zone. We show that the evolutionary conserved cucullaris-derived muscles originate from posterior cardiopharyngeal mesoderm, not lateral plate mesoderm, and we define new boundaries for neural crest and mesodermal contributions to neck connective tissue. Furthermore, lineage studies and functional analysis of Tbx1- and Pax3-null mice reveal a unique developmental program for somitic neck muscles that is distinct from that of somitic trunk muscles. Our findings unveil the embryological and developmental requirements underlying tetrapod neck myogenesis and provide a blueprint to investigate how muscle subsets are selectively affected in some human myopathies.


Tiane Macedo De Oliveira, Daniel Oliveira, Cesar L. Schultz, Leonardo Kerber, and Felipe L. Pinheiro (2018)
Tanystropheid archosauromorphs in the Lower Triassic of Gondwana.
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (in press)

Free pdf:

Tanystropheidae is a clade of early archosauromorphs with a reported distribution ranging from the Early to the Late Triassic of Asia, Europe, and North America. Although some specimens with possible tanystropheid affinities from the Lower Triassic beds of Brazil have been previously attributed to "Protorosauria", little is known about the tanystropheid record in Gondwana. Here, two new and one previously reported specimen from the Sanga do Cabral Formation (InduanâOlenekian) of Brazil are described and interpreted as ?Tanystropheidae. These records, together with other tetrapods previously reported for the Sanga do Cabral Formation, increase the knowledge of the biotic diversification during the beginning of the Triassic. This contribution reinforces that the archosauromorph diversification occurred shortly after the Permo-Triassic extinction, making the Sanga do Cabral Formation an important unit for the study of early Mesozoic faunas.


Carla Bardua, Susan E. Evans & Anjali Goswami (2018)
Phylogeny, ecology and deep time: 2D outline analysis of anuran skulls from the Early Cretaceous to the Recent.
Palaeontology (advance online publication)

Free pdf:

Data archiving statementData for this study, including the Supporting Information (7 supplementary figures and 2 tables), and our composite extant and fossil tree, are available in the Dryad Digital Repository: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2gf6910

Anurans have a long fossil record, spanning from the Early Jurassic to the Recent. However, specimens are often severely flattened, limiting their inclusion in quantitative analyses of morphological evolution. We perform a twoâdimensional morphometric analysis of anuran skull outlines, incorporating 42 Early Cretaceous to Miocene species, as well as 93 extant species in 32 families. Outlines were traced in tpsDig2 and analysed with elliptical Fourier analysis. Fourier coefficients were used in MANOVAs, phylogenetic MANOVAs (as significant phylogenetic signal was found) and disparity analyses across multiple ecological and life history groupings. The Neotropical realm showed higher disparity than the Australian, Palaearctic and Oriental realms (p = 0.007, 0.013, 0.038, respectively) suggesting concordance of disparity and diversity. Developmental strategy had a weak effect on skull shape (R2 = 0.02, p = 0.039) and disparity was similar in metamorphosing and direct developing frogs. Ecological niche was a significant discriminator of skull shape (F = 1.43, p = 0.004) but not after phylogenetic correction. Evolutionary allometry had a small but significant influence on the cranial outlines of the combined extant and fossil dataset (R2 = 0.05, p = 0.004). Finally, morphospace occupation appears to have changed over time (F = 1.59, p = 5 Ã 10â10). However, as with ecological signal, this shift appears to be largely driven by phylogeny and was not significant after phylogenetic correction (R2 = 0.26, p = 0.22). This study thus suggests that frog skull evolution is shaped more by phylogenetic constraints than by ecology.

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