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Mid-Cretaceous amber fossils illuminate the past diversity of tropical lizards

Published on Mar 1, 2016in Science Advances
· DOI :10.1126/sciadv.1501080
Juan D. Daza14
Estimated H-index: 14
(SHSU: Sam Houston State University),
Edward L. Stanley9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Florida Museum of Natural History)
+ 2 AuthorsDavid A. Grimaldi40
Estimated H-index: 40
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)
Abstract
Modern tropical forests harbor an enormous diversity of squamates, but fossilization in such environments is uncommon and little is known about tropical lizard assemblages of the Mesozoic. We report the oldest lizard assemblage preserved in amber, providing insight into the poorly preserved but potentially diverse mid-Cretaceous paleotropics. Twelve specimens from the Albian-Cenomanian boundary of Myanmar (99 Ma) preserve fine details of soft tissue and osteology, and high-resolution x-ray computed tomography permits detailed comparisons to extant and extinct lizards. The extraordinary preservation allows several specimens to be confidently assigned to groups including stem Gekkota and stem Chamaleonidae. Other taxa are assignable to crown clades on the basis of similar traits. The detailed preservation of osteological and soft tissue characters in these specimens may facilitate their precise phylogenetic placement, making them useful calibration points for molecular divergence time estimates and potential keys for resolving conflicts in higher-order squamate relationships.
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  • References (38)
  • Citations (39)
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References38
Newest
Emma Sherratt13
Estimated H-index: 13
(UNE: University of New England (Australia)),
María del Rosario Castañeda6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Harvard University)
+ 5 AuthorsJonathan B. Losos75
Estimated H-index: 75
(Harvard University)
Abstract Whether the structure of ecological communities can exhibit stability over macroevolutionary timescales has long been debated. The similarity of independently evolved Anolis lizard communities on environmentally similar Greater Antillean islands supports the notion that community evolution is deterministic. However, a dearth of Caribbean Anolis fossils—only three have been described to date—has precluded direct investigation of the stability of anole communities through time. Here we re...
14 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jul 24, 2015in Science 41.06
David M. Martill25
Estimated H-index: 25
(University of Portsmouth),
Helmut Tischlinger9
Estimated H-index: 9
,
Nicholas R. Longrich20
Estimated H-index: 20
(University of Bath)
Snakes are a remarkably diverse and successful group today, but their evolutionary origins are obscure. The discovery of snakes with two legs has shed light on the transition from lizards to snakes, but no snake has been described with four limbs, and the ecology of early snakes is poorly known. We describe a four-limbed snake from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian) Crato Formation of Brazil. The snake has a serpentiform body plan with an elongate trunk, short tail, and large ventral scales suggestin...
36 Citations Source Cite
Published on Mar 24, 2015in PLOS ONE 2.77
Tod W. Reeder29
Estimated H-index: 29
(SDSU: San Diego State University),
Ted M. Townsend15
Estimated H-index: 15
(SDSU: San Diego State University)
+ 4 AuthorsJohn J. Wiens78
Estimated H-index: 78
(UA: University of Arizona)
Squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) are a pivotal group whose relationships have become increasingly controversial. Squamates include >9000 species, making them the second largest group of terrestrial vertebrates. They are important medicinally and as model systems for ecological and evolutionary research. However, studies of squamate biology are hindered by uncertainty over their relationships, and some consider squamate phylogeny unresolved, given recent conflicts between molecular and morp...
118 Citations Source Cite
Juan D. Daza14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Villanova University),
Aaron M. Bauer39
Estimated H-index: 39
(Villanova University),
Eric Snively6
Estimated H-index: 6
(UWL: University of Wisconsin–La Crosse)
Gekkota is often interpreted as sister to all remaining squamates, exclusive of dibamids, or as sister to Autarchoglossa. It is the only diverse lineage of primarily nocturnal lizards and includes some of the smallest amniotes. The skeleton of geckos has often been interpreted as paedomorphic and/or “primitive” but these lizards also display a wide range of structural specializations of the postcranium, including modifications associated with both scansorial locomotion and limb reduction. Althou...
26 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 5, 2013
Jason J. Head19
Estimated H-index: 19
(NU: University of Nebraska–Lincoln),
Gregg F. Gunnell12
Estimated H-index: 12
(Duke University)
+ 2 AuthorsRussell L. Ciochon31
Estimated H-index: 31
(UI: University of Iowa)
Mammals dominate modern terrestrial herbivore ecosystems, whereas extant herbivorous reptiles are limited in diversity and body size. The evolution of reptile herbivory and its relationship to mammalian diversification is poorly understood with respect to climate and the roles of predation pressure and competition for food resources. Here, we describe a giant fossil acrodontan lizard recovered with a diverse mammal assemblage from the late middle Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar, which provi...
15 Citations Source Cite
Published on Mar 27, 2013
Krystal A. Tolley26
Estimated H-index: 26
(Stellenbosch University),
Ted M. Townsend15
Estimated H-index: 15
(SDSU: San Diego State University),
Miguel Vences52
Estimated H-index: 52
(Braunschweig University of Technology)
Oceanic dispersal has emerged as an important factor contributing to biogeographic patterns in numerous taxa. Chameleons are a clear example of this, as they are primarily found in Africa and Madagascar, but the age of the family is post-Gondwanan break-up. A Malagasy origin for the family has been suggested, yet this hypothesis has not been tested using modern biogeographic methods with a dated phylogeny. To examine competing hypotheses of African and Malagasy origins, we generated a dated phyl...
60 Citations Source Cite
Published on Mar 1, 2013in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 2.69
Juan D. Daza14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Villanova University),
Aaron M. Bauer39
Estimated H-index: 39
(Villanova University),
Eric Snively6
Estimated H-index: 6
(OU: Ohio University)
Gobekko cretacicus, a Cretaceous lizard from the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, is a key fossil for understanding gecko phylogeny. We revisit this fossil using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. The application of this imaging method reveals new information about sutures, bone shape, and structural details of the palate and basicranium. These data were used to assess the phylogenetic affinities of Gobekko in the context of an existing squamate data set. The effects of character ordering, searc...
14 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2013in BMC Evolutionary Biology 3.03
Marc E. H. Jones21
Estimated H-index: 21
(University of Adelaide),
Cajsa Lisa Anderson5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of Gothenburg)
+ 3 AuthorsRainer R. Schoch29
Estimated H-index: 29
(Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart)
Background Lepidosauria (lizards, snakes, tuatara) is a globally distributed and ecologically important group of over 9,000 reptile species. The earliest fossil records are currently restricted to the Late Triassic and often dated to 227 million years ago (Mya). As these early records include taxa that are relatively derived in their morphology (e.g. Brachyrhinodon), an earlier unknown history of Lepidosauria is implied. However, molecular age estimates for Lepidosauria have been problematic; da...
84 Citations Source Cite
Nicholas R. Longrich20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Yale University),
Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Harvard University),
Jacques A. Gauthier29
Estimated H-index: 29
(Yale University)
The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary is marked by a major mass extinction, yet this event is thought to have had little effect on the diversity of lizards and snakes (Squamata). A revision of fossil squamates from the Maastrichtian and Paleocene of North America shows that lizards and snakes suffered a devastating mass extinction coinciding with the Chicxulub asteroid impact. Species-level extinction was 83%, and the K-Pg event resulted in the elimination of many lizard groups and a dramatic...
61 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 14, 2012in Science 41.06
Jonathan B. Losos75
Estimated H-index: 75
(Harvard University),
David M. Hillis63
Estimated H-index: 63
(University of Texas at Austin),
Harry W. Greene31
Estimated H-index: 31
(Cornell University)
At the dawn of molecular phylogenetics, much was made of the conflict between results from morphological and molecular data sets. Although molecular data have rarely changed our understanding of the major multicellular groups of the evolutionary tree of life, they have suggested changes in the relationships within many groups, such as the evolutionary position of whales in the clade of even-toed ungulates ( 1 ). Further investigation has usually resolved conflicts, often by revealing inadequacie...
45 Citations Source Cite
Cited By39
Newest
Published on Jan 30, 2019in Scientific Reports 4.12
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Ryan C. McKellar12
Estimated H-index: 12
(KU: University of Kansas)
+ 3 AuthorsLuis M. Chiappe45
Estimated H-index: 45
(Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)
Over the last three years, Burmese amber (~99 Ma, from Myanmar) has provided a series of immature enantiornithine skeletal remains preserved in varying developmental stages and degrees of completeness. These specimens have improved our knowledge based on compression fossils in Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, adding details of three-dimensional structure and soft tissues that are rarely preserved elsewhere. Here we describe a remarkably well-preserved foot, accompanied by part of the wing plumage. ...
Source Cite
Published on Jun 1, 2019in Organisms Diversity & Evolution 2.37
Ishan Agarwal7
Estimated H-index: 7
(NCBS: National Centre for Biological Sciences),
Akshay Khandekar1
Estimated H-index: 1
(NCBS: National Centre for Biological Sciences)
+ 2 AuthorsK. Praveen Karanth14
Estimated H-index: 14
(IISc: Indian Institute of Science)
Sky Islands are high-elevation environments that are separated by warmer, low elevations, forming natural patches of unique montane habitat that often persist through changing climates. Peninsular India was ancestrally forested and has gradually become more arid since at least the Oligocene, and open landscapes have dominated since the middle-late Miocene. Mesic forests today are largely restricted to coastal mountains and some other montane habitats. A mitochondrial phylogeny and fossil-calibra...
Source Cite
Published on May 7, 2019in Integrative and Comparative Biology 2.75
Anthony P. Russell37
Estimated H-index: 37
(U of C: University of Calgary),
Alyssa Y Stark1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Villanova University),
Timothy E. Higham24
Estimated H-index: 24
(UCR: University of California, Riverside)
Source Cite
Published on Apr 30, 2019in Integrative and Comparative Biology 2.75
A M Bauer1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Villanova University)
3 Citations Source Cite
Published on Apr 27, 2019in Integrative and Comparative Biology 2.75
Anthony P. Russell37
Estimated H-index: 37
(U of C: University of Calgary),
Tony Gamble20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Marquette University)
3 Citations Source Cite
Published on Apr 22, 2019in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 2.69
Aparna Lajmi2
Estimated H-index: 2
(IISc: Indian Institute of Science),
Rohini Bansal1
Estimated H-index: 1
(HUJI: Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
+ 1 AuthorsPraveen Karanth7
Estimated H-index: 7
(IISc: Indian Institute of Science)
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Feb 16, 2019in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 2.33
Ekaterina A. Sidorchuk9
Estimated H-index: 9
(RAS: Russian Academy of Sciences),
Andre V. Bochkov14
Estimated H-index: 14
+ 1 AuthorsO. F. Chernova5
Estimated H-index: 5
(RAS: Russian Academy of Sciences)
Tetrapods are rarely recovered from fossil resins, such as amber, and fossils of parasites are even rarer. We describe the first pre-Quaternary co-occurrence of ectoparasitic mites with hairs of their mammalian hosts, preserved in life-like detail from a piece of Eocene (∼ 40 Ma) Baltic amber. The mites, representing the oldest fossils of the family Myobiidae (Acari: Prostigmata: Eleutherengona), are described as Protohylomysobia erinaceophilus Sidorchuk & Bochkov gen. et sp. nov. and belong to ...
2 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2019
Raul E. DiazJr1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Southeastern Louisiana University),
Paul A. Trainor39
Estimated H-index: 39
(Stowers Institute for Medical Research)
There are over 10,300 recognized reptile species in the lineage Lepidosauria whose members utilize almost every mode of locomotion except powered flight. They exhibit a diverse array of feeding mechanisms such as the ballistic tongue projection and retraction system of chameleons to the snake macrostomate mode of eating prey larger than their body width. Lepidosauria also exhibit specialized cranial ornamentation and diverse cranioskeletal architecture. The diversity across over 10,300 species m...
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 1, 2018in Scientific Reports 4.12
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Edward L. Stanley9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Florida Museum of Natural History)
+ 1 AuthorsDavid C. Blackburn20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Florida Museum of Natural History)
Frogs are a familiar and diverse component of tropical forests around the world. Yet there is little direct evidence from the fossil record for the antiquity of this association. We describe four fossil frog specimens from mid-Cretaceous (~99 mya) amber deposits from Kachin State, Myanmar for which the associated fauna provides rich paleoenvironmental context. Microcomputed tomographic analysis provides detailed three-dimensional anatomy for these small frogs, which is generally unavailable for ...
1 Citations Source Cite