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.
Sun, 7 May 2023
The gang discusses two papers that look at patterns of niche conservatism or niche evolution in the fossil record. The first paper looks at the pollen records of trees in Portugal to test if changing climate can explain modern tree distributions, and the second paper looks at the impact of Late Devonian extinction pulses/invasions on brachiopod communities. Meanwhile, Curt summarizes the podcast, James has brachiopod facts, and Amanda cannot control her cats.
Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):
Our friends talk about two papers that look at where animals live and what they do in the world, and also if that stays the same or changes over time. The first paper looks at tall living things that make their own food and lose a part of themselves every fall. This looks at one place that has just a few of these types of living things but in the past there were different types there. Also, back then it was not as warm and the rain was different. This paper wants to see why the tall living things we have in this part of the world are where they are right now. What they saw was that, some of the changes in the tall things seem to be tall things following where they want to live; when things get warmer or colder they move to follow the change. But some things seem to be moving into places that are very different from where they started, so they are changing what types of places they like to live in.
The second paper looks at animals that live on the bottom of the big blue wet thing and take food out of the water and were found all over the world a long time ago. It looks at a time when a big change killed a lot of living things. This paper looks at how this changed the types of these animals over time. What they find is that, a lot of the animals that die because of the change have another animal from somewhere else doing the same thing move in and take that animal's place. The things that do not die just keep on doing their own thing. It does not look like there is much change in what the animals are doing either from the big change that happened, or from the new animals moving in.
Vieira, Manuel, et al. "Niche evolution versus niche conservatism and habitat loss determine persistence and extirpation in late Neogene European Fagaceae." Quaternary Science Reviews 300 (2023): 107896.
Brisson, Sarah K., et al. "Niche conservatism and ecological change during the Late Devonian mass extinction." Proceedings of the Royal Society B 290.1996 (2023): 20222524.