Sterling J. Nesbitt

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Living archosaurs comprise birds (dinosaurs) and crocodylians (suchians). The morphological diversity of birds and stem group dinosaurs is tremendous and well-documented. Suchia, the archosaurian group including crocodylians, is generally considered more conservative. Here, we report a new Late Triassic suchian archosaur with unusual, highly specialized(More)
It has generally been thought that the first dinosaurs quickly replaced more archaic Late Triassic faunas, either by outcompeting them or when the more archaic faunas suddenly became extinct. Fossils from the Hayden Quarry, in the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation of New Mexico, and an analysis of other regional Upper Triassic assemblages instead imply that(More)
Theropods have traditionally been assumed to have lost manual digits from the lateral side inward, which differs from the bilateral reduction pattern seen in other tetrapod groups. This unusual reduction pattern is clearly present in basal theropods, and has also been inferred in non-avian tetanurans based on identification of their three digits as the(More)
The early evolutionary history of Ornithodira (avian-line archosaurs) has hitherto been documented by incomplete (Lagerpeton) or unusually specialized forms (pterosaurs and Silesaurus). Recently, a variety of Silesaurus-like taxa have been reported from the Triassic period of both Gondwana and Laurasia, but their relationships to each other and to dinosaurs(More)
Characterizing the evolutionary history of early dinosaurs is central to understanding their rise and diversification in the Late Triassic. However, fossils from basal lineages are rare. A new theropod dinosaur from New Mexico is a representative of the early North American diversification. Known from several nearly complete skeletons, it reveals a mosaic(More)
Triassic predatory guild evolution reflects a period of ecological flux spurred by the catastrophic end-Permian mass extinction and terminating with the global ecological dominance of dinosaurs in the early Jurassic. In responding to this dynamic ecospace, terrestrial predator diversity attained new levels, prompting unique trophic webs with a seeming(More)
BACKGROUND Archosaurs (birds, crocodilians and their extinct relatives including dinosaurs) dominated Mesozoic continental ecosystems from the Late Triassic onwards, and still form a major component of modern ecosystems (>10,000 species). The earliest diverse archosaur faunal assemblages are known from the Middle Triassic (c. 244 Ma), implying that the(More)
In addition to their devastating effects on global biodiversity, mass extinctions have had a long-term influence on the history of life by eliminating dominant lineages that suppressed ecological change. Here, we test whether the end-Permian mass extinction (252.3 Ma) affected the distribution of tetrapod faunas within the southern hemisphere and apply(More)
BACKGROUND The early Eocene Green River Formation avifauna preserves exceptional exemplars of the earliest unambiguous stem representatives of many extant avian clades. We identify the basal-most member of Podargiformes (extant and fossil stem lineage frogmouths) based on a new specimen of Fluvioviridavis platyrhamphus, a unique neoavian bird from the(More)
Direct evidence of prey choice in carnivorous dinosaurs is rare in the fossil record. The most celebrated example pertains to purported stomach contents in the carnivorous dinosaur Coelophysis bauri, which besides revealing prey choice, also points to cannibalistic behaviour as being commonplace (Colbert 1989, 1995). Here, we test this hypothesis by(More)