Katherine L. Anderson,Â Patrick S. Druckenmiller,Â Gregory M. Erickson &Â Erin E. Maxwell (2018)
Skeletal microstructure of Stenopterygius quadriscissus (Reptilia, Ichthyosauria) from the Posidonienschiefer (Posidonia Shale, Lower Jurassic) of Germany.
Palaeontology (advance online publication)
Ichthyosaurians (Ichthyosauria) are a major clade of secondarily aquatic marine tetrapods that occupied several major predatory niches during the Mesozoic Era. Multiple lines of evidence including isotopic, body shape and swimming modality analyses suggest they exhibited elevated growth and metabolic rates, and body temperatures. However, applications of osteohistological methods to test hypotheses regarding their physiology are few. Previous studies focused on the humeri, vertebrae and ribs from a small number of taxa. Here, we use osteohistological methods to describe the bone microstructure of over 30 cranial and postâcranial elements from a nearly complete, articulated individual of Stenopterygius quadriscissus from the Posidonienschiefer Formation (Posidonia Shale, Lower Jurassic) of Germany. The specimen shows highly vascularized primary bone and spongious secondary bone in its limbs, suggesting an overall shift to a lighter spongiousâstructured skeleton was achieved through multiple developmental mechanisms. The modified perichondral ossification in elements of the limbs distal to the stylopodium informs our understanding of functional morphology, including hydrodynamic forces on the paddles. The ribs show variation in cortical thickness and trabecular organization along their length. Cyclical growth is inferred from changes in vascularization and osteocyte density as well as the presence of annuli in primary fibrolamellar bone. Cranial elements, due to their relative density and better preservation of growth marks, may prove to be of particular importance in future skeletochronological studies of postâTriassic ichthyosaurians. We infer and corroborate hypotheses of elevated growth rates and metabolic rates in ichthyosaurians, and the potential for thermoregulation similar to extant homeothermic ectotherms.
John A. Long, Alice M. Clement and Brian Choo (2018)
New insights into the origins and radiation of the mid-Palaeozoic Gondwanan stem tetrapods.
Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of The Royal Society of Edinburgh (advance online publication)
The earliest tetrapodomorph fishes appear in Chinese deposits of Early Devonian age, and by the Middle Devonian they were widespread globally. Evidence for the earliest digitated tetrapods comes from largely uncontested Middle Devonian trackways and Late Devonian body fossils. The East Gondwana Provence (Australasia, Antarctica) fills vital gaps in the phylogenetic and biogeographic history of the tetrapods, with the Gondwanan clade Canowindididae exhibiting a high degree of endemism within the early part of the stem tetrapod radiation. New anatomical details of Koharalepis, from the Middle Devonian Aztec Siltstone of Antarctica, are elucidated from synchrotron scan data. These include the position of the orbit, the condition of the hyomandibular, the shape of the palate and arrangement of the vomerine fangs. Biogeographical and phylogenetic models of stem tetrapod origins and radiations are discussed.
Giovanna Catavitello, Yury Ivanenko & Francesco Lacquaniti (2018)
A kinematic synergy for terrestrial locomotion shared by mammals and birds.
ÂLocomotion of tetrapods on land adapted to different environments and needs resulting in a variety of different gait styles. However, comparative analyses reveal common principles of limb movement control. Here, we report that a kinematic synergy involving the planar covariation of limb segment motion holds in 54 different animal species (10 birds and 44 mammals), despite large differences in body size, mass (ranging from 30 g to 4 tonnes), limb configuration, and amplitude of movements. This kinematic synergy lies at the interface between the neural command signals output by locomotor pattern generators, the mechanics of the body center of mass and the external environment, and it may represent one neuromechanical principle conserved in evolution to save mechanical energy.