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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24357

Title: Morphology, Phylogeny, and Evolution of Diadectidae (Cotylosauria: Diadectomorpha)
Authors: Kissel, Richard
Advisor: Reisz, Robert R.
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Keywords: Diadectidae
diadectid
Carboniferous
Pennsylvanian
herbivory
Permian
Issue Date: 21-Apr-2010
Abstract: Based on dental, cranial, and postcranial anatomy, members of the Permo-Carboniferous clade Diadectidae are generally regarded as the earliest tetrapods capable of processing high-fiber plant material; presented here is a review of diadectid morphology, phylogeny, taxonomy, and paleozoogeography. Phylogenetic analyses support the monophyly of Diadectidae within Diadectomorpha, the sister-group to Amniota, with Limnoscelis as the sister-taxon to Tseajaia + Diadectidae. Analysis of diadectid interrelationships of all known taxa for which adequate specimens and information are known—the first of its kind conducted—positions Ambedus pusillus as the sister-taxon to all other forms, with Diadectes sanmiguelensis, Orobates pabsti, Desmatodon hesperis, Diadectes absitus, and (Diadectes sideropelicus + Diadectes tenuitectes + Diasparactus zenos) representing progressively more derived taxa in a series of nested clades. In light of these results, it is recommended herein that the species Diadectes sanmiguelensis be referred to the new genus Oradectes, Diadectes absitus be referred to the new genus Silvadectes, and Diasparactus be synonymized with Diadectes to produce Diadectes zenos. The phylogenetic hypothesis also reveals an evolutionary history leading to more efficient oral processing within the lineage, with successive nodes characterized by features indicative of a high-fiber diet. Within Diadectomorpha, diadectids constitute the majority of the species, suggesting that the advent of herbivory resulted in a relatively rapid radiation of species within the group, producing a clade that is markedly more species-rich than other, non-herbivorous diadectomorph taxa. An extensive review of Permo-Carboniferous tetrapod-bearing localities does, however, indicate that diadectids were not a key component of the fauna, discovered at fewer than 50 percent of the sites reviewed. These results counter suggestions that the evolution of Diadectidae led to the formation of the modern terrestrial ecosystem—where a large crop of herbivores supports a much smaller number of carnivores—during the Late Carboniferous and Early Permian.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24357
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology - Doctoral theses

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