Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates

  title={Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates},
  author={Malcolm A. MacIver and Lars Schmitz and Ugurcan Mugan and Todd D. Murphey and Curtis D. Mobley},
  journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  pages={E2375 - E2384}
Significance Starting 385 million years ago, certain fish slowly evolved into legged animals living on land. We show that eyes tripled in size and shifted from the sides to the top of the head long before fish modified their fins into limbs for land. Before permanent life on land, these animals probably hunted like crocodiles, looking at prey from just above the water line, where the vastly higher transparency of air enabled long-distance vision and selected for larger eyes. The “buena vista… 

Figures from this paper

The shift from life in water to life on land advantaged planning in visually-guided behavior

Evidence is provided that in a dynamic visually-guided behavior of crucial evolutionary importance, prey evading a predator, planning provides a significant advantage over habit-based action selection, but only on land.

Bilateral visual projections exist in non-teleost bony fish and predate the emergence of tetrapods

This work systematically investigated the presence of ipsilateral and contralateral visual projections in a panel of teleost and non-teleost fishes by using advanced histological methods and whole-mount brain imaging, and evaluated in fishes the level of conservation of the genetic program that, in mammals, is thought to specify ips bilateral visual projections.

Effects of Visual Sensory Range on the Emergence of Cognition in Early Terrestrial Vertebrates: An Agent-Based Modeling Approach

In this study, a multi-level agent-based model is used to attempt to replicate the dynamics of the hypothetical evolutionary scenario described above, and it is observed that as a population that is adapted to live on land emerges, their mean eye size and cognitive capacity increase.

The neuroecology of the water-to-land transition and the evolution of the vertebrate brain

Integration of value-weighted, memorized panoramas in basal ganglia/frontal cortex circuitry, with allocentric cognitive maps of the hippocampus and its associated cortices becomes a cognitive habit-to-plan transition as substantial as the change in ecology.

Evolution of behavioural control from chordates to primates

  • P. Cisek
  • Biology
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
  • 2021
A hypothetical sequence of evolutionary innovations, along the lineage that produced humans, which extended behavioural control from simple feedback loops to sophisticated control of diverse species-typical actions are outlined.

The shift to life on land selected for planning

Evidence is presented that a reason for the absence of planning in fish and many other aquatic animals is that in a key driver of natural selection, predator-prey interactions, there is no benefit to planning above habit-based action selection, and there is a significant benefit of planning under similar predator- prey scenarios for terrestrial conditions.

Follow the footprints and mind the gaps: a new look at the origin of tetrapods

  • P. Ahlberg
  • Geography, Environmental Science
    Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • 2018
ABSTRACT The hypothesis that tetrapods evolved from elpistostegids during the Frasnian, in a predominantly aquatic context, has been challenged by the discovery of Middle Devonian tetrapod trackways

How sensory ecology affects the utility of planning

Prior to the vertebrate invasion of land, aquatic vision provided short range sensing with low contrast scenes. Once on land, aerial vision provided a 100-fold increase in range with high contrast

A hierarchical view of gecko locomotion: photic environment, physiological optics, and locomotor performance.

The range of photic environments that can be encountered in terrestrial habitats, such as day versus night, canopy cover in a forest, fog, and clouds, are discussed and a conceptual framework for integrating sensory and motor information is established to establish a guide for future research.

Investigating the role of body size, ecology, and behavior in anuran eye size evolution

It is concluded that eye size in frogs is tightly linked to body mass evolution but that, at least in the species investigated here, none of the tested ecological and behavioral factors have a strong influence on eye size evolution.



Origin of the Tetrapod Limb.

The paired fins of fishes were first used as props and supports for resting on the bottom; these were later used in a clumsy, walking manner, and this behavior perforce began first in the water,

A Unique Advantage for Giant Eyes in Giant Squid

A Devonian tetrapod-like fish and the evolution of the tetrapod body plan

The discovery of a well-preserved species of fossil sarcopterygian fish from the Late Devonian of Arctic Canada that represents an intermediate between fish with fins and tetrapods with limbs, and provides unique insights into how and in what order important tetrapod characters arose is reported.

Tentacled snakes turn C-starts to their advantage and predict future prey behavior

  • K. Catania
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2009
It is reported that tentacled snakes (Erpeton tentaculatus) exploit this normally adaptive circuitry by feinting with their body, triggering the Mauthner cell that is furthest from their head milliseconds before a ballistic strike is initiated, and suggested that the snake's sensory-motor system is adapted to predict future behavior.

Three-dimensional limb joint mobility in the early tetrapod Ichthyostega

It is shown that Ichthyostega could not have employed typical tetrapod locomotory behaviours, such as lateral sequence walking, and was unlikely to have made some of the recently described Middle Devonian trackways.

Late to the table: diversification of tetrapod mandibular biomechanics lagged behind the evolution of terrestriality.

The substantial temporal gap between the origin of postcranial features associated with terrestriality, such as limbs with functional elbow/knee and wrist/ankle joints capable of weight-bearing, and the onset of divergence in jaw biomechanics provides a compelling example of "functional modularity" during a major adaptive radiation.

Cold-Blooded Cognition: Reptilian Cognitive Abilities

This chapter will review the literature on the acquisition of novel behavior, spatial, visual, and social cognition in a range of reptile species, and interpret current evidence in the light of what is known about cognitive processes, and the mechanisms underlying these, in mammals and birds.

The energetic cost of vision and the evolution of eyeless Mexican cavefish

It is demonstrated that the loss of the visual system in the cave phenotype substantially lowered the amount of energy expended on expensive neural tissue during diversification into subterranean rivers, in particular for juvenile fish.

A Marine Stem-Tetrapod from the Devonian of Western North America

This new taxon, Tinirau clackae, demonstrates that substantial parallelism pervaded the early history of stem-tetrapods, raises additional questions about when digited sarcopterygians first evolved, and further documents that incipient stages of the terrestrial appendicular condition began when sarcoperygians still retained their median fins and occupied aquatic habitats.

Evolution of the Mauthner Axon Cap

Phylogenetic mapping shows that through evolution there are discrete transitions in axon cap morphology occurring at the base of gnathostomes, within basal actinopterygians, and at the Base of the teleost radiation.