Palaeo After Dark

The gang discusses two papers which use morphology to infer behavior in the fossil record. The first paper looks at the origins of the “killer whale” type morphology in fossil cetaceans, and the second paper describes the earliest example of a diurnal owl in the fossil record. Meanwhile, James proposes an unconventional workforce, Curt imagines the sea mammal revolution, and Amanda cuts the crap… out of her basement.


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Our friends talk about two papers that look at how things look and how we can use that to tell how animals might have lived in the past. The first paper looks at a group of animals with hair that breathe air but live their whole lives in water and do not have legs. There are lots of different types of these animals but one of these animals is named after being someone that kills. However, there is another group of these animals that look a lot like these animals that are named after killing but are not the same. This paper finds a really old one of these animals that looks like but is not one of these killing animals. These animals have things that make them eat in different ways than most of the animals with hair that live in water. This older animal may be the first time that these animals with hair who live in water were eating in this way. It also shows that this type of body that looks like these animals that are named for killing really did appear many times within the group.

The second paper looks at animals who fly that are usually out at night and kill very quietly. They find a very old one of these animals that is very complete and allows them to see lots of parts of the animal we usually do not get. These parts show that this animal may have actually been moving around during the day instead of at night, like most of the other animals in this group. They show that moving around in the day is something that a few of these animals today do and that it has appeared many times in the past. This animal might be the oldest one of these animals that lived in the day, and shows that, even though most of these animals today are out at night, the group has a lot more going on with whether or not these animals were out in the day or at night.



Li, Zhiheng, et al. "Early evolution  of diurnal habits in owls (Aves, Strigiformes) documented by a new and  exquisitely preserved Miocene owl fossil from China." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119.15 (2022): e2119217119.

Bianucci, Giovanni, et al. "The origins of the killer whale ecomorph." Current Biology (2022).

Direct download: Podcast_237_-_Day_Walkers.mp3
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