Phylogenetic and environmental context of a Tournaisian tetrapod fauna

Clack, J.A. and Bennett, C.A. and Carpenter, D.K. and Davies, S.J. and Fraser, N.C. and Kearsey, T.J. and Marshall, J.E.A. and Millward, D. and Otoo, B.K.A. and Reeves, E.J. and Ross, A.J. and Ruta, M. and Smithson, K.Z. and Smithson, T.R. and Walsh, S.A. (2017) Phylogenetic and environmental context of a Tournaisian tetrapod fauna. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1 . p. 2. ISSN 2397-334X

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Abstract

The end-Devonian to mid-Mississippian time interval has long been known for its depauperate palaeontological record, especially for tetrapods. This interval encapsulates the time of increasing terrestriality among tetrapods, but only two Tournaisian localities previously produced tetrapod fossils. Here we describe five new Tournaisian tetrapods (Perittodus apsconditus, Koilops herma, Ossirarus kierani, Diploradus austiumensis and Aytonerpeton microps) from two localities in their environmental context. A phylogenetic analysis retrieved three taxa as stem tetrapods, interspersed among Devonian and Carboniferous forms, and two as stem amphibians, suggesting a deep split among crown tetrapods. We also illustrate new tetrapod specimens from these and additional localities in the Scottish Borders region. The new taxa and specimens suggest that tetrapod diversification was well established by the Tournaisian. Sedimentary evidence indicates that the tetrapod fossils are usually associated with sandy siltstones overlying wetland palaeosols. Tetrapods were probably living on vegetated surfaces that were subsequently flooded. We show that atmospheric oxygen levels were stable across the Devonian/Carboniferous boundary, and did not inhibit the evolution of terrestriality. This wealth of tetrapods from Tournaisian localities highlights the potential for discoveries elsewhere.

Keywords:tetrapods, Tournaisian, Devonian, diversification, Ballagan Formation
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C180 Ecology
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
F Physical Sciences > F641 Palaeontology
F Physical Sciences > F600 Geology
C Biological Sciences > C181 Biodiversity
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:25383
Deposited On:04 Jan 2017 15:03

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