Michael McGowen

Learn More
Cetaceans are remarkable among mammals for their numerous adaptations to an entirely aquatic existence, yet many aspects of their phylogeny remain unresolved. Here we merged 37 new sequences from the nuclear genes RAG1 and PRM1 with most published molecular data for the group (45 nuclear loci, transposons, mitochondrial genomes), and generated a supermatrix(More)
The origin of baleen in mysticete whales represents a major transition in the phylogenetic history of Cetacea. This key specialization, a keratinous sieve that enables filter-feeding, permitted exploitation of a new ecological niche and heralded the evolution of modern baleen-bearing whales, the largest animals on Earth. To date, all formally described(More)
Balaenopteroids (Balaenopteridae + Eschrichtiidae) are a diverse lineage of living mysticetes, with seven to ten species divided between three genera (Megaptera, Balaenoptera and Eschrichtius). Extant members of the Balaenopteridae (Balaenoptera and Megaptera) are characterized by their engulfment feeding behavior, which is associated with a number of(More)
There is a well-established allometric relationship between brain and body mass in mammals. Deviation of relatively increased brain size from this pattern appears to coincide with enhanced cognitive abilities. To examine whether there is a phylogenetic structure to such episodes of changes in encephalization across mammals, we used phylogenetic techniques(More)
Various nucleotide substitution models have been developed to accommodate among lineage rate heterogeneity, thereby relaxing the assumptions of the strict molecular clock. Recently developed "uncorrelated relaxed clock" and "random local clock" (RLC) models allow decoupling of nucleotide substitution rates between descendant lineages and are thus predicted(More)
The flora of Macaronesia, which encompasses five Atlantic archipelagos (Azores, Canaries, Madeira, Cape Verde, and Salvage), is exceptionally rich and diverse. Spectacular radiation of numerous endemic plant groups has made the Macaronesian islands an outstanding area for studies of evolution and speciation. Despite intensive investigation in the last 15(More)
Cetaceans (dolphins and whales) have undergone a radical transformation from the original mammalian bodyplan. In addition, some cetaceans have evolved large brains and complex cognitive capacities. We compared approximately 10,000 protein-coding genes culled from the bottlenose dolphin genome with nine other genomes to reveal molecular correlates of the(More)
Cetacea (dolphins, porpoises, and whales) is a clade of aquatic species that includes the most massive, deepest diving, and largest brained mammals. Understanding the temporal pattern of diversification in the group as well as the evolution of cetacean anatomy and behavior requires a robust and well-resolved phylogenetic hypothesis. Although a large body of(More)
The emergence of Cetacea in the Paleogene represents one of the most profound macroevolutionary transitions within Mammalia. The move from a terrestrial habitat to a committed aquatic lifestyle engendered wholesale changes in anatomy, physiology, and behavior. The results of this remarkable transformation are extant whales that include the largest, biggest(More)
The blind mole rat (BMR), Spalax galili, is an excellent model for studying mammalian adaptation to life underground and medical applications. The BMR spends its entire life underground, protecting itself from predators and climatic fluctuations while challenging it with multiple stressors such as darkness, hypoxia, hypercapnia, energetics and high(More)