The gang discusses two papers that look in detail at examples of convergence in the fossil record. The first paper uses multivariate statistics to create an “eco-space” in order to study how ecological roles of marine tetrapods changed over the Mesozoic. The second paper looks at the evolutionary history and functional morphology of sabre-teeth in mammals. Meanwhile, James tries a new flavor, Amanda is bathed in soft focus, and Curt details Superman’s side hustle.
Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):
Our friends talk about two papers that look at how animals change and are changed by the world around them. The first paper looks at the jobs that animals do and how those jobs have changed over time. They look at animals with a hard part in their back and four legs which go back into the water and use some number work to see what job each animal has, and how those jobs change over time. They find that there are many things that can happen in these four legged animals that go back to the water. One cool thing is that when one animal goes away for all time, a new animal can come in that does the old animal's job. But this new animal doesn't do exactly the same job as the old one.
The second paper looks at cats and other animals with long teeth. These cats have usually been put into two big groups because of how these long teeth look and thought that these big groups came about because these cats ate different things. This paper looks at all of these cats and not cat things with long teeth and finds that even inside these two big groups, cats are eating other things a probably doing a lot of different jobs. They find that these long teeth may not be used in the way that we thought they were used, and that cats may have been able to use these long teeth for many different jobs. This is important because getting long teeth is a thing that is older than just cats.
Lautenschlager, Stephan, et al. "Morphological convergence obscures functional diversity in sabre-toothed carnivores." Proceedings of the Royal Society B 287.1935 (2020): 20201818.
Reeves, Jane C., et al. "Evolution of ecospace occupancy by Mesozoic marine tetrapods." Palaeontology (2020).