Palaeo After Dark

The gang discuss two papers that look at the links between morphology and ecology. Specifically, they discuss a fossil marine reptile with a very unique looking skull that gives clues to a possible “platypus” like life-habit. However, they also discuss a modern ecological study of crustacean-eating snakes which shows that sometimes unique behaviors can greatly expand the potential prey species available to a predator. Meanwhile, James regales us with tales of an epic battle, Amanda is good at social interactions, and Curt ponders anime betrayals.

<FYI: The second paper has a video supplemental information showing snake feeding strategies. This is exactly what it sounds like. It is interesting, but you have been warned. >


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Our friends talk about animals with small heads and how these animals lived and ate. First, they talk about a thing that lived in the big blue wet place a long long time ago which had a very very large body. Before hand, we didn't know what the head of this thing looked like. But now we found out that it had a really really small head for its really big body. Also, the head is weird, and has these cuts in it that seem to be where a round long mouth thing used to be. Also, it has a strange hard part in the middle of the head which is not stuck to anything. All of these weird head bits are very much like what we see in one weird animal today which looks like it was made from parts of other animals. This has lead people to think that this old animal who lived in the big blue wet place might have eaten in a way that is a lot like this animal we have today that looks like it was made from parts of other animals.

Next, our friends talk about these animals with no legs who eat rock hard animals with cutting hands who sometimes lose their skin. There are lots of types of these animals with no legs, but only a few of these animals with no legs try to eat these rock hard animals with cutting hands who sometimes lose their skin. This paper wanted to know how these animals with no legs go about eating these rock hard animals. It turns out there are many different ways to do it, with some of them pulling off legs, some of them eating the rock hard animals whole, and some of them waiting until these rock hard animals lose their skin. But the really cool thing is that animals with no legs who had very small mouths could actually eat rock hard animals much larger than themselves. By waiting until these rock hard animals lost their skin, these very small animals with no legs could tear their food to small pieces while it was still able to move and breathe. So the way that the animal with no legs lived was very important for deciding which of the rock hard animals it could eat.



Cheng, Long, et al. "Early Triassic marine reptile representing the oldest record of unusually small eyes in reptiles indicating non-visual prey detection." Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 152. 

 Jayne, Bruce C., Harold K. Voris, and Peter KL Ng. "How big is too big? Using crustacean-eating snakes (Homalopsidae) to test how anatomy and behaviour affect prey size and feeding performance." Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 123.3 (2018): 636-650. 

Direct download: Podcast_156_-_Never_Underestimate_the_Little_Snake.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses two papers that use fossil evidence to interpret physiology and functional morphology of extinct animals. First, we discuss a new study that suggests ichthyosaurs may have evolved blubber to help them regulate their temperatures. Second, we talk about a new study that uses robotic models to test how early tetrapods may have moved. Meanwhile, Amanda mixes caffeine and alcohol, Curt forgets Shane Black movies, and James tries to pull the ultimate mid episode twist. <Editor’s note: James finally gets to starting the podcast roughly 10 minutes in after forcing connections for every minor digression>


Up-Goer Five (Amanda Edition):

Today our friends talk about animals that are very big but not large, and how early animals with four feet walked. The first paper is very good and talks about an animal that looked like an animal that breathes water but actually is an animal that has just skin and breathes air. These animals had thick skin with lots of stuff under the skin like cute animals with hair that live where it's cold. This stuff is very very very easy to see in this old animal. It also has color. But real color not color that might not be real like in other old animals. One friend thinks that this animal might be very good to eat. Our friends also talk about a very good paper that looks at how early animals with four feet walked. This paper has a lot of people all working together and they do a lot of different things that they are all very good at, so this paper does some different things than other papers. They make a not-real animal, both in a computer and in real life. The computer not-real animal is used to make sure the real-life not-real animal can do things right. It looks like a lot of work. Then they make the real-life not-real animal walk and show that it looks like foot marks left a long time ago by early animals with four feet. They make the real-life not-real animal walk a number of different ways to make sure that they are doing the right thing. The real-life not-real animal leaves foot marks that match up just right with the foot marks left a long time ago.  



 Nyakatura, John A., et al. "Reverse-engineering the locomotion of a stem amniote." Nature 565.7739 (2019): 351. 

 Lindgren, Johan, et al. "Soft-tissue evidence for homeothermy and crypsis in a Jurassic ichthyosaur." Nature 564.7736 (2018): 359. 

Direct download: Podcast_155_-_But_What_Would_It_Taste_Like.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT