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Pliosaurids were a long-lived and cosmopolitan group of marine predators that spanned 110 million years and occupied the upper tiers of marine ecosystems from the Middle Jurassic until the early Late Cretaceous. A well-preserved giant pliosaurid skull from the Late Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay Formation of Dorset, United Kingdom, represents a new species,(More)
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)
Non-avian theropod dinosaurs attained large body sizes, monopolising terrestrial apex predator niches in the Jurassic–Cretaceous. From the Middle Jurassic onwards, Allosauroidea and Megalosauroidea comprised almost all large-bodied predators for 85 million years. Despite their enormous success, however, they are usually considered absent from terminal(More)
Marine and terrestrial animals show a mosaic of lineage extinctions and diversifications during the Jurassic-Cretaceous transition. However, despite its potential importance in shaping animal evolution, few palaeontological studies have focussed on this interval and the possible climate and biotic drivers of its faunal turnover. In consequence evolutionary(More)
Birds are the most diverse living tetrapod group and are a model of large-scale adaptive radiation. Neontological studies suggest a radiation within the avian crown group, long after the origin of flight. However, deep time patterns of bird evolution remain obscure because only limited fossil data have been considered. We analyse cladogenesis and limb(More)
Today, biodiversity decreases from equatorial to polar regions. This is a fundamental pattern governing the distribution of extant organisms, the understanding of which is critical to predicting climatically driven biodiversity loss. However, its causes remain unresolved. The fossil record offers a unique perspective on the evolution of this latitudinal(More)
A major macroevolutionary question concerns how long-term patterns of body-size evolution are underpinned by smaller scale processes along lineages. One outstanding long-term transition is the replacement of basal therapsids (stem-group mammals) by archosauromorphs, including dinosaurs, as the dominant large-bodied terrestrial fauna during the Triassic(More)
Large-scale adaptive radiations might explain the runaway success of a minority of extant vertebrate clades. This hypothesis predicts, among other things, rapid rates of morphological evolution during the early history of major groups, as lineages invade disparate ecological niches. However, few studies of adaptive radiation have included deep time data, so(More)
A fundamental contribution of paleobiology to macroevolutionary theory has been the illumination of deep time patterns of diversification. However, recent work has suggested that taxonomic diversity counts taken from the fossil record may be strongly biased by uneven spatiotemporal sampling. Although morphological diversity (disparity) is also frequently(More)
Invasion of the open ocean by tetrapods represents a major evolutionary transition that occurred independently in cetaceans, mosasauroids, chelonioids (sea turtles), ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Plesiosaurian reptiles invaded pelagic ocean environments immediately following the Late Triassic extinctions. This diversification is recorded by three(More)