Sun, 21 May 2023
The gang discusses two functional morphology papers. The first paper looks at eye placement and skull morphology in Thylacosmilus and the second paper looks at the ungals of maniraptoran theropods. Meanwhile, James has milk filled “vegan” food, Amanda is replaced by alternate universe goatee Amanda, and Curt looks to rebrand.
Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):
The friends talk about two papers that look at animals who have very strange parts and how they may or may not have used those parts. The first paper looks at a group of animals with long teeth that eats other animals but is not close to the animal group with long teeth that we all know. This group got long teeth on their own and through a different way. This paper looks at their heads and shows that the way they got long teeth changes how their eyes are put into the head. Most animals that eat other animals have eyes that face forward, this helps them see how close things are in front of them. The long teeth of this animal pushed the eyes to the side, which makes it look very different from other animals that eat animals. The paper shows that there are other changes in the head that make it so the eyes can focus better even though they are not in the "right" place. This shows that there are other ways for animals to get good sight to eat other animals even if their eyes are not facing forward.
The second paper looks at the hands of a group of big angry animals from a long time ago. One part of this group gets really long fingers, and another part of this group get very short fingers (some only a few fingers). This paper looks at many ways to see how these animals could have used their really long or really short fingers. What they find is that the fingers get more strange as the groups go on. Earlier animals from these groups seem to be able to use their fingers for lots of things, but as the animals get more strange fingers they seem to only be used for a few things. The short fingers might be used to move ground out of the way. The long fingers are so strange that we are not sure what they were used for.
Qin, Zichuan, et al. "Functional space analyses reveal the function and evolution of the most bizarre theropod manual unguals." Communications Biology 6.1 (2023): 181.
Gaillard, Charlène, Ross DE MacPhee, and Analía M. Forasiepi. "Seeing through the eyes of the sabertooth Thylacosmilus atrox (Metatheria, Sparassodonta)." Communications Biology 6.1 (2023): 257.