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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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Previous attempts to resolve plesiosaurian phylogeny are reviewed and a new phylogenetic data set of 66 taxa (67% of ingroup taxa examined directly) and 178 characters (eight new) is presented. We recover two key novel results: a monophyletic Plesiosauridae comprising Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, Hydrorion brachypterygius, Microcleidus homalospondylus,(More)
Despite their profound adaptations to the aquatic realm and their apparent success throughout the Triassic and the Jurassic, ichthyosaurs became extinct roughly 30 million years before the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Current hypotheses for this early demise involve relatively minor biotic events, but are at odds with recent understanding of the(More)
During the Middle and Late Jurassic, pliosaurid plesiosaurs evolved gigantic body size and a series of craniodental adaptations that have been linked to the occupation of an apex predator niche. Cretaceous pliosaurids (i.e. Brachaucheninae) depart from this morphology, being slightly smaller and lacking the macrophagous adaptations seen in earlier forms.(More)