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Sustained miniaturization and anatomical innovation in the dinosaurian ancestors of birds

Sustained miniaturization and anatomical innovation in the dinosaurian ancestors of birds
Sustained miniaturization and anatomical innovation in the dinosaurian ancestors of birds


Recent discoveries have highlighted the dramatic evolutionary transformation of massive, ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs into light, volant birds. Here, we apply Bayesian approaches (originally developed for inferring geographic spread and rates of molecular evolution in viruses) in a different context: to infer size changes and rates of anatomical innovation (across up to 1549 skeletal characters) in fossils. These approaches identify two drivers underlying the dinosaur-bird transition. The theropod lineage directly ancestral to birds undergoes sustained miniaturization across 50 million years and at least 12 consecutive branches (internodes) and evolves skeletal adaptations four times faster than other dinosaurs. The distinct, prolonged phase of miniaturization along the bird stem would have facilitated the evolution of many novelties associated with small body size, such as reorientation of body mass, increased aerial ability, and paedomorphic skulls with reduced snouts but enlarged eyes and brains.
0036-8075
562-566
Lee, Michael S.Y.
c72ce693-b93c-4c6a-87b1-872cc58f626d
Cau, Andrea
664e02a9-f4ff-460c-b5ff-2c4c9cc41247
Naish, Darren
6cd448f6-99cc-4c45-93d1-bdd24ee3d281
Dyke, Gareth J.
600ca61e-b40b-4c86-b8ae-13be4e331e94
Lee, Michael S.Y.
c72ce693-b93c-4c6a-87b1-872cc58f626d
Cau, Andrea
664e02a9-f4ff-460c-b5ff-2c4c9cc41247
Naish, Darren
6cd448f6-99cc-4c45-93d1-bdd24ee3d281
Dyke, Gareth J.
600ca61e-b40b-4c86-b8ae-13be4e331e94

Lee, Michael S.Y., Cau, Andrea, Naish, Darren and Dyke, Gareth J. (2014) Sustained miniaturization and anatomical innovation in the dinosaurian ancestors of birds. Science, 345 (6196), 562-566. (doi:10.1126/science.1252243).

Record type: Article

Abstract



Recent discoveries have highlighted the dramatic evolutionary transformation of massive, ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs into light, volant birds. Here, we apply Bayesian approaches (originally developed for inferring geographic spread and rates of molecular evolution in viruses) in a different context: to infer size changes and rates of anatomical innovation (across up to 1549 skeletal characters) in fossils. These approaches identify two drivers underlying the dinosaur-bird transition. The theropod lineage directly ancestral to birds undergoes sustained miniaturization across 50 million years and at least 12 consecutive branches (internodes) and evolves skeletal adaptations four times faster than other dinosaurs. The distinct, prolonged phase of miniaturization along the bird stem would have facilitated the evolution of many novelties associated with small body size, such as reorientation of body mass, increased aerial ability, and paedomorphic skulls with reduced snouts but enlarged eyes and brains.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 31 July 2014
Published date: 1 August 2014
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

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Local EPrints ID: 367636
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/367636
ISSN: 0036-8075
PURE UUID: 08d7b68a-bd2f-4a09-97c2-2223a44218ca

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Aug 2014 16:11
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 21:49

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