Roger B J Benson

Learn 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 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)
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)
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)
Pneumatic (air-filled) postcranial bones are unique to birds among extant tetrapods. Unambiguous skeletal correlates of postcranial pneumaticity first appeared in the Late Triassic (approximately 210 million years ago), when they evolved independently in several groups of bird-line archosaurs (ornithodirans). These include the theropod dinosaurs (of which(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)
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)
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)
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)
The Early Cretaceous fauna of Victoria, Australia, provides unique data on the composition of high latitude southern hemisphere dinosaurs. We describe and review theropod dinosaur postcranial remains from the Aptian-Albian Otway and Strzelecki groups, based on at least 37 isolated bones, and more than 90 teeth from the Flat Rocks locality. Several specimens(More)