Just out | Mosasauroid phylogeny under multiple phylogenetic methods provides new insights on the evolution of aquatic adaptations in the group @ PLOSone

Just out @ PLOSone

Mosasauroid phylogeny under multiple phylogenetic methods provides new insights on the evolution of aquatic adaptations in the group


Tiago R. Simões, Oksana Vernygora, Ilaria Paparella, Paulina Jimenez-Huidobro, Michael W. Caldwell


Mosasauroids were a successful lineage of squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) that radiated during the Late Cretaceous (95–66 million years ago). They can be considered one of the few lineages in the evolutionary history of tetrapods to have acquired a fully aquatic lifestyle, similarly to whales, ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Despite a long history of research on this group, their phylogenetic relationships have only been tested so far using traditional (unweighted) maximum parsimony. However, hypotheses of mosasauroid relationships and the recently proposed multiple origins of aquatically adapted pelvic and pedal features in this group can be more thoroughly tested by methods that take into account variation in branch lengths and evolutionary rates. In this study, we present the first mosasauroid phylogenetic analysis performed under different analytical methods, including maximum likelihood, Bayesian inference, and implied weighting maximum parsimony. The results indicate a lack of congruence in the topological position of halisaurines and Dallasaurus. Additionally, the genus Prognathodon is paraphyletic under all hypotheses. Interestingly, a number of traditional mosasauroid clades become weakly supported, or unresolved, under Bayesian analyses. The reduced resolutions in some consensus trees create ambiguities concerning the evolution of fully aquatic pelvic/pedal conditions under many analyses. However, when enough resolution was obtained, reversals of the pelvic/pedal conditions were favoured by parsimony and likelihood ancestral state reconstructions instead of independent origins of aquatic features in mosasauroids. It is concluded that most of the observed discrepancies among the results can be associated with different analytical procedures, but also due to limited postcranial data on halisaurines, yaguarasaurines and Dallasaurus.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176773

READ IT HERE: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176773

(Image credit: Latoplatecarpus by Nobu Tamura)

Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)