Ancient proteins resolve the evolutionary history of Darwin’s South American ungulates

  title={Ancient proteins resolve the evolutionary history of Darwin’s South American ungulates},
  author={Frido Welker and Matthew James Collins and Jessica A. Thomas and Marc Wadsley and Selina Brace and Enrico Cappellini and Samuel T. Turvey and Mar Reguero and Javier N. Gelfo and Alejandro Kramarz and Joachim Burger and Jane E. Thomas-Oates and David A. Ashford and Peter D. Ashton and Keri Rowsell and Duncan Macnair Porter and Benedikt M. Kessler and Roman Fischer and Carsten Baessmann and Stephanie Kaspar and Jesper Velgaard Olsen and Patrick J. Kiley and James A. Elliott and Christian D. Kelstrup and Victoria E. Mullin and Michael Hofreiter and Eske Willerslev and Jean‐Jacques Hublin and Ludovic Orlando and Ian Barnes and Ross D.E. Macphee},
No large group of recently extinct placental mammals remains as evolutionarily cryptic as the approximately 280 genera grouped as ‘South American native ungulates’. To Charles Darwin, who first collected their remains, they included perhaps the ‘strangest animal[s] ever discovered’. Today, much like 180 years ago, it is no clearer whether they had one origin or several, arose before or after the Cretaceous/Palaeogene transition 66.2 million years ago, or are more likely to belong with the… 

Genomic Data from Extinct North American Camelops Revise Camel Evolutionary History.

It is found that Camelops is sister to African and Asian bactrian and dromedary camels, to the exclusion of South American camelids (llamas, guanacos, alpacas, and vicuñas).

A mitogenomic timetree for Darwin’s enigmatic South American mammal Macrauchenia patachonica

An almost complete mitochondrial genome for the litoptern Macrauchenia is reported, showing that, when using strict criteria, extinct taxa marked by deep divergence times and a lack of close living relatives may still be amenable to palaeogenomic analysis through iterative mapping against more distant relatives.

Resurrecting phenotypes from ancient DNA sequences: promises and perspectives

Anatomical changes in extinct mammalian lineages over evolutionary time, such as the loss of fingers and teeth and the rapid increase in body size that accompanied the late Miocene dispersal of Steller’s sea cows, are prime examples of adaptive evolution underlying the exploitation of new habitats.

Palaeoproteomics for human evolution studies

  • F. Welker
  • Biology
    Quaternary Science Reviews
  • 2018

Out of Africa: A New Afrotheria Lineage Rises From Extinct South American Mammals

Confronting the Sudamericungulata evolutionary patterns and the Cenozoic natural events helps to unveil a new chapter in the evolution of Gondwanan Eutheria, as well as the natural history of South America during the Cencozoic.

A new genus of horse from Pleistocene North America

The palaeogenomic and morphometric analyses support the idea that there was only a single species of middle to late Pleistocene NWSL equid, and a new genus, Haringtonhippus, is proposed for the sole species H. francisci.

Early Pleistocene enamel proteome sequences from Dmanisi resolve Stephanorhinus phylogeny

It is demonstrated that sequencing the proteome of Early Pleistocene dental enamel overcomes the limitations of phylogenetic inference based on ancient collagen or DNA, and resolves the phylogeny of Eurasian Rhinocerotidae.

Palaeoproteomics resolves sloth relationships

Collagen sequence information is utilized, both separately and in combination with published mitochondrial DNA evidence, to assess the relationships of tree sloths and their extinct relatives, illuminating the utility of proteomics in systematics.

Splendid Innovation: The Extinct South American Native Ungulates

A remarkable diversity of plant-eating mammals known as South American native ungulates (SANUs) flourished in South America for most of the Cenozoic. Although some of these species likely filled



A Molecular Phylogeny of Plesiorycteropus Reassigns the Extinct Mammalian Order ‘Bibymalagasia’

The first known molecular sequence data for Plesiorycteropus is presented, obtained from the bone protein collagen (I), which places the ‘Malagasy aardvark’ as more closely related to tenrecs than aardVarks, suggesting that the taxonomic order ‘Bibymalagasia’ is obsolete.

Using genomic data to unravel the root of the placental mammal phylogeny.

The genome sequence assemblies of human, armadillo, elephant, and opossum are analyzed to identify informative coding indels that would serve as rare genomic changes to infer early events in placental mammal phylogeny and suggest Afrotheria and Xenarthra diverged from other placental mammals approximately 103 (95-114) million years ago.

Recalibrating Equus evolution using the genome sequence of an early Middle Pleistocene horse

Thealyses suggest that the Equus lineage giving rise to all contemporary horses, zebras and donkeys originated 4.0–4.5 million years before present, twice the conventionally accepted time to the most recent common ancestor of the genus Equus, and supports the contention that Przewalski's horses represent the last surviving wild horse population.

The Placental Mammal Ancestor and the Post–K-Pg Radiation of Placentals

A phylogenetic tree shows that crown clade Placentalia and placental orders originated after the K-Pg boundary, but phenomic signals overturn molecular signals to show Sundatheria (Dermoptera + Scandentia) as the sister taxon of Primates, a close link between Proboscidea and Sirenia (sea cows), and the monophyly of echolocating Chiroptera (bats).

Population history of the Hispaniolan hutia Plagiodontia aedium (Rodentia: Capromyidae): testing the model of ancient differentiation on a geotectonically complex Caribbean island

Phylogenetic analysis using mitochondrial DNA reveals a pattern of historical allopatric lineage divergence in Hispaniolan hutia, with the spatial distribution of three distinct hutia lineages biogeographically consistent with the island’s geotectonic history.

Splendid and Seldom Isolated: The Paleobiogeography of Patagonia

The idea that South America was an island continent over most of the Cenozoic, during which its unusual mammalian faunas evolved in isolation, is outstandingly influential in biogeography. Although


A phylogenetic analysis of representatives of most living placental mammal orders, several groups of North American and European condylarths, and three groups of South American ungulates is presented here, indicating that litopterns and notoungulates are sister taxa.

Phylogenomic datasets provide both precision and accuracy in estimating the timescale of placental mammal phylogeny

A powerful Bayesian method is used to analyse 36 nuclear genomes and 274 mitochondrial genomes to reject a pre K–Pg model of placental ordinal diversification, and it is suggested other infamous instances of mismatch between molecular and palaeontological divergence time estimates will be resolved with this same approach.

Impacts of the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution and KPg Extinction on Mammal Diversification

Molecular phylogenetic analysis, calibrated with fossils, resolves the time frame of the mammalian radiation and diversification analyses suggest important roles for the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution and KPg mass extinction in opening up ecospace that promoted interordinal and intraordinal diversification, respectively.

Protein Sequences from Mastodon and Tyrannosaurus Rex Revealed by Mass Spectrometry

The presence of T. rex sequences indicates that their peptide bonds were remarkably stable, and mass spectrometry can be used to determine unique sequences from ancient organisms from peptide fragmentation patterns, a valuable tool to study the evolution and adaptation of ancient taxa from which genomic sequences are unlikely to be obtained.