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Inproceedings Reference Brain evolution of early placental mammals: the impact of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction on the the neurosensory system of our distant relatives
The end-Cretaceous mass extinction, 66 million years ago, profoundly reshaped the biodiversity of our planet. After likely originating in the Cretaceous, placental mammals (species giving live birth to well-developed young) survived the extinction and quickly diversified in the ensuing Paleocene. Compared to Mesozoic species, extant placentals have advanced neurosensory abilities, enabled by a proportionally large brain with an expanded neocortex. This brain construction was acquired by the Eocene, but its origins, and how its evolution relates to extinction survivorship and recovery, are unclear, because little is known about the neurosensory systems of Paleocene species. We used high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scanning to build digital brain models in 29 extinct placentals (including 23 from the Paleocene). We added these to data from the literature to construct a database of 98 taxa, from the Jurassic to the Eocene, which we assessed in a phylogenetic context. We find that the Phylogenetic Encephalization Quotient (PEQ), a measure of relative brain size, increased in the Cretaceous along branches leading to Placentalia, but then decreased in Paleocene clades (taeniodonts, phenacodontids, pantodonts, periptychids, and arctocyonids). Later, during the Eocene, the PEQ increased independently in all crown groups (e.g., euarchontoglirans and laurasiatherians). The Paleocene decline in PEQ was driven by body mass increasing much more rapidly after the extinction than brain volume. The neocortex remained small, relative to the rest of the brain, in Paleocene taxa and expanded independently in Eocene crown groups. The relative size of the olfactory bulbs, however, remained relatively stable over time, except for a major decrease in Euarchontoglires and some Eocene artiodactyls, while the petrosal lobules (associated with eye movement coordination) decreased in size in Laurasiatheria but increased in Euarchontoglires. Our results indicate that an enlarged, modern-style brain was not instrumental to the survival of placental mammal ancestors at the end-Cretaceous, nor to their radiation in the Paleocene. Instead, opening of new ecological niches post-extinction promoted the diversification of larger body sizes, while brain and neocortex sizes lagged behind. The independent increase in PEQ in Eocene crown groups is related to the expansion of the neocortex, possibly a response to ecological specialization as environments changed, long after the extinction. Funding Sources Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, European Research Council Starting Grant, National Science Foundation, Belgian Science Policy Office, DMNS No Walls Community Initiative.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Inproceedings Reference Phylogenetic position of Olbitherium (Mammalia, Perissodactyla) based on new material from the early Eocene Wutu Formation
The genus Olbitherium was originally described in 2004 from the early Eocene of the Wutu Formation in China as a ‘perissodactyl-like’ archaic ungulate. Described material of Olbitherium consists of partial dentaries with lower cheek teeth, isolated upper molars, and an isolated upper premolar. Subsequent collaborative fieldwork by Belgian and Chinese researchers discovered new material including a partial skull, the anterior portion of the dentary, and associated postcrania. In their general form, the skull and postcrania are similar to those of early perissodactyls. The new material provides a more complete picture of the upper dentition, and the anterior dentary demonstrates the presence of three lower incisors and a large canine, both ancestral features for perissodactyls. A phylogenetic analysis was conducted to test the affinities of Olbitherium, using a matrix of 321 characters and 72 taxa of placental mammals emphasizing perissodactyls and other ungulates. The results produced four shortest trees of 1981 steps. In all four trees, Olbitherium is the sister-taxon to all perissodactyls except Ghazijhippus. In contrast, when scoring was restricted to the originally described material, the results produced 16 shortest trees of 1970 steps, and Olbitherium nests well within Perissodactyla as sister-taxon to a clade including Lambdotherium and the brontotheriids Eotitanops and Palaeosyops. The new material not only supports the identification of Olbitherium as a perissodactyl, but it also suggests that it is significant for understanding the ancestral perissodactyl morphotype. Funding Sources U.S. National Science Foundation (DEB1456826), Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (2009DFA32210), and Belgian Science Policy Office (BL/36/C54).
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Inproceedings Reference The influence of pile driving noise on harbour porpoises
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017
Inproceedings Reference . How to interpret the offset between marls and limestones of carbon isotopes on the bulk rocks in Zumaia GSSP (Spain)?
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Article Reference Latest Cretaceous hadrosaurid dinosaurs from Eastern Asia
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A new basal neoceratopsian dinosaur from the ‘middle’ Cretaceous of Jilin Province, China
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Cranial endocasts of the two hadrosaurids from Blagoveschensk, Amur Region (Russia)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A new latest Cretaceous dinosaur locality in northeastern China
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Taphonomy and age profile of a latest Cretaceous bonebed in Far Eastern Russia
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference The latest Cretaceous hadrosaurid dinosaurs from Heilongjiang Province (China) and Amur Region (Russia)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications