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The fossil record is our only direct means for evaluating shifts in biodiversity through Earth's history. However, analyses of fossil marine invertebrates have demonstrated that geological megabiases profoundly influence fossil preservation and discovery, obscuring true diversity signals. Comparable studies of vertebrate palaeodiversity patterns remain in(More)
Throughout the animal kingdom, adaptive colouration serves critical functions ranging from inconspicuous camouflage to ostentatious sexual display, and can provide important information about the environment and biology of a particular organism. The most ubiquitous and abundant pigment, melanin, also has a diverse range of non-visual roles, including(More)
Low concentrations of the structural protein collagen have recently been reported in dinosaur fossils based primarily on mass spectrometric analyses of whole bone extracts. However, direct spectroscopic characterization of isolated fibrous bone tissues, a crucial test of hypotheses of biomolecular preservation over deep time, has not been performed. Here,(More)
Fossil feathers, hairs and eyes are regularly preserved as carbonized traces comprised of masses of micrometre-sized bodies that are spherical, oblate or elongate in shape. For a long time, these minute structures were regarded as the remains of biofilms of keratinophilic bacteria, but recently they have been reinterpreted as melanosomes; that is,(More)
Mosasaurs (family Mosasauridae) are a diverse group of secondarily aquatic lizards that radiated into marine environments during the Late Cretaceous (98-65 million years ago). For the most part, they have been considered to be simple anguilliform swimmers--i.e., their propulsive force was generated by means of lateral undulations incorporating the greater(More)
BACKGROUND During their evolution in the Late Cretaceous, mosasauroids attained a worldwide distribution, accompanied by a marked increase in body size and open ocean adaptations. This transition from land-dwellers to highly marine-adapted forms is readily apparent not only at the gross anatomic level but also in their inner bone architecture, which(More)
Colour, derived primarily from melanin and/or carotenoid pigments, is integral to many aspects of behaviour in living vertebrates, including social signalling, sexual display and crypsis. Thus, identifying biochromes in extinct animals can shed light on the acquisition and evolution of these biological traits. Both eumelanin and melanin-containing cellular(More)
The physical nature of water and the environment it presents to an organism have long been recognized as important constraints on aquatic adaptation and evolution. Little is known about the dermal cover of mosasauroids (a group of secondarily aquatic reptiles that occupied a wide array of predatory niches in the Cretaceous marine ecosystems 92-65 Myr ago),(More)
Mosasaurs are secondarily aquatic squamates that became the dominant marine reptiles in the Late Cretaceous about 98-66 million years ago. Although early members of the group possessed body shapes similar to extant monitor lizards, derived forms have traditionally been portrayed as long, sleek animals with broadened, yet ultimately tapering tails. Here we(More)
Round to elongate microbodies associated with fossil vertebrate soft tissues were interpreted as microbial traces until 2008, when they were re-described as remnant melanosomes - intracellular, pigment-containing eukaryotic organelles. Since then, multiple claims for melanosome preservation and inferences of organismal color, behavior, and physiology have(More)