Did the primary ancestors of whales decide up the place the mosasaurs left off 66 million years in the past, after the extinction of all the big predatory marine reptiles? A examine carried out by Rebecca Bennion, a PhD pupil on the EDDyLab of the College of Liège (Belgium), has regarded into the doable convergences in morphology and behavior which will exist between these two teams of huge marine predatory animals. This analysis has been revealed within the journal Paleobiology.
Many people are acquainted with trendy whales and dolphins. Nonetheless, the extinct ancestors of those trendy marine mammals bear an uncanny resemblance to earlier types of marine life, notably the mosasaurs, a totally extinct group carefully associated to snakes and lizards. “Superficial similarities have lengthy been famous, however the concept that these two teams may be functionally comparable has by no means been rigorously examined,” explains Rebecca Bennion, a doctoral pupil at ULiège’s EDDyLab and first writer of the examine.
The analysis, which has simply been revealed within the journal Paleobiology and was carried out by a world workforce of scientists primarily based in Europe, the USA and New Zealand, investigated the potential for convergent evolution of cranium morphology between ancestral cetaceans and mosasaurs. To do that, a variety of purposeful and biomechanical options had been recorded from high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) scans of skulls from each teams. “Our laboratory has assembled an enormous library of 3D scans of fossils, permitting us to discover intimately questions on large-scale evolution,” explains Prof. Valentin Fischer, palaeontologist and director of the EDDy Lab at ULiège.
Whereas cetaceans and mosasaurs initially had fairly completely different ecological traits, this examine discovered that a number of species had however acquired fairly comparable morphology and thus confirmed evolutionary convergence. “This convergence between early cetaceans and mosasaurs tells us extra in regards to the bodily traits vital for giant marine predators to evolve optimally,” says EDDyLab researcher Dr Jamie MacLaren, “Many members of those teams turn into very comparable of their ecological traits, suggesting comparable selective pressures on these animals regardless of being separated by tens of tens of millions of years. Nonetheless, vital variations stay between the 2 teams regardless of these examples of convergence. “Our outcomes present what is known as ‘incomplete convergence’, with variations remaining as a result of mammalian or reptilian origin of every group,” continues Rebecca Bennion.
Trendy cetaceans are certainly a bunch that is still scientifically very attention-grabbing to check, it stays to be seen how numerous their morphology and ecology is in comparison with different fossil marine animals. This analysis is simply the tip of the iceberg; additional analysis into the convergence of marine animals via the fossil file will assist us perceive the constraints that evolution locations on aquatic organisms and the way they overcome them.