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Head size, weaponry, and cervical adaptation: Testing craniocervical evolutionary hypotheses in Ceratopsia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology.
2015 (English)In: Evolution, ISSN 0014-3820, E-ISSN 1558-5646, Vol. 69, no 7, 1728-1744 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The anterior cervical vertebrae form the skeletal connection between the cranial and postcranial skeletons in higher tetrapods. As a result, the morphology of the atlas-axis complex is likely to be shaped by selection pressures acting on either the head or neck. The neoceratopsian (Reptilia:Dinosauria) syncervical represents one of the most highly modified atlas-axis regions in vertebrates, being formed by the complete coalescence of the three most anterior cervical vertebrae. In ceratopsids, the syncervical has been hypothesized to be an adaptation to support a massive skull, or to act as a buttress during intraspecific head-to-head combat. Here, we test these functional/adaptive hypotheses within a phylogenetic framework and critically examine the previously proposed methods for quantifying relative head size in the fossil record for the first time. Results indicate that neither the evolution of cranial weaponry nor large head size correlates with the origin of cervical fusion in ceratopsians, and we, therefore, reject both adaptive hypotheses for the origin of the syncervical. Anterior cervical fusion has evolved independently in a number of amniote clades, and further research on extant groups with this peculiar anatomy is needed to understand the evolutionary basis for cervical fusion in Neoceratopsia.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 69, no 7, 1728-1744 p.
Keyword [en]
Adaptation, fossils, macroevolution, morphological evolution, paleobiology
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-261473DOI: 10.1111/evo.12693ISI: 000358503800007PubMedID: 26095296OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-261473DiVA: diva2:851018

Funding: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Dinosaur Research Institute

Available from: 2015-09-03 Created: 2015-09-01 Last updated: 2015-09-03Bibliographically approved

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Campione, Nicolas E.
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