Temporal niche expansion in mammals from a nocturnal ancestor after dinosaur extinction

  title={Temporal niche expansion in mammals from a nocturnal ancestor after dinosaur extinction},
  author={Roi Maor and Tamar Dayan and Henry Ferguson-Gow and Kate E. Jones},
  journal={Nature Ecology \& Evolution},
Most modern mammals, including strictly diurnal species, exhibit sensory adaptations to nocturnal activity that are thought to be the result of a prolonged nocturnal phase or ‘bottleneck’ during early mammalian evolution. Nocturnality may have allowed mammals to avoid antagonistic interactions with diurnal dinosaurs during the Mesozoic. However, understanding the evolution of mammalian activity patterns is hindered by scant and ambiguous fossil evidence. While ancestral reconstructions of… 

Diel niche variation in mammals associated with expanded trait space

It is shown here that daytime-active species (cathemeral or diurnal) evolved trait combinations along different gradients from those of nocturnal and crepuscular species.

Ecological causes of uneven speciation and species richness in mammals

This work investigates global speciation-rate variation across crown Mammalia using a novel time-scaled phylogeny, finding that trait- and latitude-associated speciation has caused uneven species richness among groups, and identifies 24 branch-specific shifts in net diversification rates linked to ecological traits.

Rapid increase in snake dietary diversity and complexity following the end-Cretaceous mass extinction

The results indicate that repeated transformational shifts in dietary ecology are important drivers of adaptive radiation in snakes and provide a framework for analyzing and visualizing the evolution of complex ecological phenotypes on phylogenetic trees.

Molecular Data Support an Early Shift to an Intermediate-Light Niche in the Evolution of Mammals.

The results suggest early mammals were yellow-sensitive, possibly representing an adaptive trade-off for both crepuscular (twilight) and nocturnal (moonlight) niches.

Early evolution of diurnal habits in owls (Aves, Strigiformes) documented by a new and exquisitely preserved Miocene owl fossil from China

  • Zhiheng LiT. Stidham Zhonghe Zhou
  • Environmental Science, Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2022
Analysis of the preserved eye bones supports a potential Miocene origin of nonnocturnal habits in a globally distributed owl group, which may be linked to steppe habitat expansion and climatic cooling in the late Miocene.

Untangling the Multiple Ecological Radiations of Early Mammals.

Evolution of diel activity patterns in skinks (Squamata: Scincidae), the world's second‐largest family of terrestrial vertebrates

This work uses phylogenetic comparative methods to examine the evolutionary history of diel activity in skinks and examines how diel patterns are associated with microhabitat, ambient temperatures, and morphology, and found support for a nondiurnal ancestral skink.

Shifts in food webs and niche stability shaped survivorship and extinction at the end-Cretaceous

It has long been debated why groups such as non-avian dinosaurs became extinct whereas mammals and other lineages survived the Cretaceous/Paleogene mass extinction 66 million years ago. We used

New tools suggest a middle Jurassic origin for mammalian endothermy

We suggest that mammalian endothermy was established amongst Middle Jurassic crown mammals, through reviewing state‐of‐the‐art fossil and living mammal studies. This is considerably later than the

Evolution of Sex Determination in Amniotes: Did Stress and Sequential Hermaphroditism Produce Environmental Determination?

It is speculated that ESD evolves via a heterochronic shift of the sensitive period of sex change from the adult to the embryonic stage in a hermaphroditic amniote ancestor.



Nocturnality in synapsids predates the origin of mammals by over 100 million years

Recognizing the complexity of diel activity patterns in non-mammalian synapsids is an important step towards a more nuanced picture of the evolutionary history of behaviour in the synapsid clade.

Adaptive radiation of multituberculate mammals before the extinction of dinosaurs

It is shown that in arguably the most evolutionarily successful clade of Mesozoic mammals, the Multituberculata, an adaptive radiation began at least 20 million years before the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs and continued across the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary.

Evolving through day and night: origin and diversification of activity pattern in modern primates

The present research contributes to further disentangle the adaptive role of activity patterns in primate evolution, suggesting a low flexibility of diurnal and nocturnal patterns and the key importance of cathemeral activity as transitional state to shift between more specialized activity patterns.

The nocturnal bottleneck and the evolution of activity patterns in mammals

The ecological plausibility that the activity patterns of (early) eutherian mammals were restricted to the night is reviewed, based on arguments relating to endothermia, energy balance, foraging and predation, taking into account recent palaeontological information.

Nocturnality in Dinosaurs Inferred from Scleral Ring and Orbit Morphology

It is shown that the eyes of Mesozoic archosaurs were adapted to all major types of diel activity (that is, nocturnal, diurnal, and cathemeral) and provide concrete evidence of temporal niche partitioning in the Mesozoics.

Evolutionary disequilibrium and activity period in primates: a bayesian phylogenetic approach.

Counter to the evolutionary disequilibrium hypothesis, the most recent common ancestor of Eulemur was reconstructed as cathemeral at ∼9-13 million years ago, indicating that cathemerality in lemurs is a stable evolutionary strategy.

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.

The delayed rise of present-day mammals

The results show that the phylogenetic ‘fuses’ leading to the explosion of extant placental orders are not only very much longer than suspected previously, but also challenge the hypothesis that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event had a major, direct influence on the diversification of today’s mammals.

The diversity of temporal niches in mammals

Research on the neural processes responsible for temporal niche selection has revealed no fundamental difference between the circadian clocks of diurnal and nocturnal animals, but recent findings suggest that different output pathways from the clock in a given species may operate with different circadian phases, providing an explanation for why different body functions in the same individual are subjected to different temporal niche selections.