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The ages of the oldest fossils suggest an origin for primates in the Paleocene (∼56 Ma). Fossil-calibrated molecular clock dates give Cretaceous dates (∼80-116 Ma). Both these estimates are minimum dates although they are often 'transmogrified' and treated as maximum or absolute dates. Oldest fossils can underestimate ages by tens of millions of years and instead of calibrating the time-course of evolution with a scanty fossil record, the geographical boundaries of the main molecular clades of primates are calibrated here with radiometrically dated tectonic events. This indicates that primates originated when a globally widespread ancestor (early Archonta) differentiated into a northern group (Plesiadapiformes, extinct), a southern group (Primates), and two south-east Asian groups (Dermoptera and Scandentia). The division occurred with the breakup of Pangea in the Early Jurassic and the opening of the central Atlantic (∼185 Ma). Within primates, the strepsirrhines and haplorhines diverged with volcanism and buckling on the Lebombo Monocline, a volcanic rifted margin in south-east Africa (Early Jurassic, ∼180 Ma). Within strepsirrhines, lorises and galagos (Africa and Asia) and lemurs (Madagascar) diverged with the formation of the Mozambique Channel (Middle Jurassic, ∼160 Ma). Within haplorhines, Old World monkeys and New World monkeys diverged with the opening of the Atlantic (Early Cretaceous, ∼130 Ma). The main aspects of primate distribution are interpreted as the result of plate tectonics, phylogeny and vicariance, with some subsequent range expansion leading to secondary overlap. Long-distance, trans-oceanic dispersal events are not necessary. The primate ancestral complex was already widespread globally when sea-floor spreading, strike-slip rifting and orogeny fractured and deformed distributions through the Jurassic and Cretaceous, leading to the origin of the modern clades. The model suggests that the topology of the phylogenetic tree reflects a sequence of differentiation in a widespread ancestor rather than a series of dispersal events. © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.


Heads M.,Buffalo Museum of Science
Journal of Biogeography | Year: 2010

This paper provides a panbiogeographical analysis of the endemic plant families and the palms of New Caledonia. There are three endemic plant families in New Caledonia and several genera that were previously recognized as endemic families. Of these taxa, some are sister to widespread Northern Hemisphere or global groups (Canacomyrica, Austrotaxus, Amborella). The others belong to trans-Indian Ocean groups (Strasburgeria), trans-tropical Pacific groups (Oncotheca) or Tasman Sea/Coral Sea groups (Phelline, Paracryphia) that are sister to widespread Northern Hemisphere or global groups. In palms, the four clades show allopatric regional connections in, respectively: (1) western Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand; (2) Vanuatu/Fiji and the southern Ryukyu Islands near Taiwan; (3) the western Tasman/Coral Sea (eastern Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands); and (4) the eastern Tasman/Coral Sea (Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands). The four clades thus belong to different centres of endemism that overlap in New Caledonia. The patterns are attributed not to chance dispersal and adaptive radiation but to the different histories of the eight terranes that fused to produce modern New Caledonia. Trans-tropical Pacific connections can be related to the Cretaceous igneous plateaus that formed in the central Pacific and were carried, with plate movement, west to the Solomon Islands and New Zealand, and east to Colombia and the Caribbean. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Luna-Vega I.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Tejero-Diez J.D.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Contreras-Medina R.,Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca | Heads M.,Buffalo Museum of Science | Rivas G.,National Autonomous University of Mexico
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2012

We analyzed the geographical and elevational distributions of two Polypodium complexes from Mexico and Central America. Distribution data of nine species of the Polypodium colpodes complex and the Polypodium plesiosorum complex were obtained from almost 1500 herbarium specimens, field collections in Mexico and Costa Rica, and literature studies. The presence of each species was recorded for each Mesoamerican country, in 1°×1° grid-cells and biogeographical provinces. The rarity of species was also evaluated. Although the two complexes show extensive overlap, the P. colpodes complex is distributed mainly along the Pacific versant of Mexico and Central America, whereas the P. plesiosorum complex occurs mainly along the Atlantic versant. Those biogeographical provinces with maximum species diversity are Chiapas (seven species), Sierra Madre del Sur (six species), and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic belt (six species). Grid-cells with more species are located mainly in the mountains of central-southern Mexico and northern Central America. Richness does not decrease or increase with latitude. Elevation distributions showed that most Polypodium species are concentrated in the montane interval and three species groups were recognized based on elevational preferences. Polypodium colpodes and P. plesiosorum are the most widely distributed species, whereas Polypodium castaneum and Polypodium flagellare are the only two species that possess the three attributes of rarity (narrow geographical distribution, high habitat specificity, and scarce local populations). Polypodium species of both complexes are present mainly in the montane regions of the study area and show some degree of geographical sympatry, especially in southern Mexico and northern Central America. This overlapping is explained by the elevation tolerance within montane systems and because most species inhabit three or more vegetation types. The distributional patterns of these complexes coincided with the three regional highlands of Mesoamerica, which are separated from each other by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and by the lowlands of Nicaragua. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London.


Heads M.,Buffalo Museum of Science
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2012

Abrotanella is the basal genus in the large tribe Senecioneae (Asteraceae) and has a disjunct distribution in Australasia and South America. A recent molecular phylogeny of the genus was used to investigate whether the main biogeographical patterns in the group could be related to the region's tectonic history in a coherent way. The phylogenetic/biogeographical breaks and overlaps in the genus imply a series of vicariance and range expansion events. Each of these can be related to one of the main tectonic events in the region, including assembly of the New Zealand terranes, crustal extension, and magmatism in Gondwana that preceded seafloor spreading, opening of the Tasman and Pacific basins, and transcurrent movement on the New Zealand Alpine fault. The coincident sequence indicates that pre-drift tectonics and magmatism have been more important for the origin of trans-Tasman and trans-Pacific groups than the final rifting of Gondwana that led to their disjunction. For example, during the pre-drift phase of break-up, the Whitsunday volcanic province of Australia and the Median Batholith of New Zealand formed a large, active igneous belt. Its distribution is aligned with the break between New Zealand-south-eastern Australia clades, and New Zealand-New Guinea clades. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London.


Heads M.,Buffalo Museum of Science
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2015

This paper reviews ideas on the relationship between the ecology of clades and their distribution. Ecological biogeography represents a tradition that dates back to ancient times. It assumes that the distribution of organisms is explained by factors of present environment, especially climate. In contrast, modern systematics, following its origins in the Renaissance, concluded with Darwin that 'neither the similarity nor the dissimilarity of the inhabitants of various regions can be accounted for by their climatal and other physical conditions'. In many cases, species distribution models - ecological niche models - based on the current environment of a species (its environmental envelope) fail to predict the actual distribution of the species. In particular, they often over-predict distributions. In addition, a group's niche often varies in space and time. These results provide valuable evidence that Darwin was correct, and many ecologists now recognise that there is a problem with the niche theory of distribution. Current ecological processes explain distribution at smaller scales than do biogeographical and evolutionary processes, but the latter can lead to patterns that are much more local than many ecologists have assumed. Biogeographical phenomena often occur at a much smaller scale than that of the Wallacean regions. In areas that have been subjected to marine inundation or intense tectonism, many centres of endemism are only tens of kilometres across. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London.


Heads M.,Buffalo Museum of Science
Journal of Biogeography | Year: 2010

This note replies to criticisms raised by Murienne (Journal of Biogeography, 2010, doi:. 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02321.x). Herein it is argued that assuming distributions in New Caledonia are caused by current environmental factors overlooks the possible importance of regional tectonic history for the biogeography. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Heads M.,Buffalo Museum of Science
Journal of Biogeography | Year: 2010

Aim: The distributions of many New Caledonian taxa were reviewed in order to ascertain the main biogeographical connections with other areas. Location: Global. Methods: Panbiogeographical analysis. Results: Twenty-four areas of endemism (tracks) involving New Caledonia and different areas of Gondwana, Tethys and the central Pacific were retrieved. Most are supported by taxa of lower and higher plants, and lower and higher animals. Main conclusions: Although parts of New Caledonia were attached to Gondwana for some time in the mid-Cretaceous, most of the New Caledonian terranes formed as oceanic island arcs and sections of sea floor bearing seamounts. The flora and fauna have evolved and survived for tens of millions of years as metapopulations on ephemeral islands. Later, the biotas were juxtaposed and fused during terrane accretion. This process, together with the rifting of Gondwana, explains the biogeographical affinities of New Caledonia with parts of Gondwana, Tethys and the Pacific. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Grehan J.R.,Buffalo Museum of Science | Schwartz J.H.,University of Pittsburgh
Journal of Biogeography | Year: 2011

We demonstrate that much of the morphological and metrical data Lehtonen et al. (Journal of Biogeography, 2011, 38, 805-808) present in support of a closer relationship between humans and chimpanzees than between humans and orangutans are faulty. When the numerous invalid features and suggested character states are excluded, as they should be, the most robust theory of relationship that can be generated is between humans and orangutans. With regard to the direct optimization method (DOM) resolving problems in analysing molecular (sequence) data, the method, if valid, requires that demonstration of sequence similarity is per force a demonstration of synapomorphy. In brief, DOM fails both to test theories of relatedness and to take into account the fact that identification of shared similarity does not translate into demonstration of synapomorphy. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Parsons W.L.,Buffalo Museum of Science | Parsons K.M.,Buffalo Museum of Science
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

This research resulted from the determination that MCZ 8791 is a specimen of Deinonychus antirrhopus between one and two years of age and that the morphological variations within particular growth stages of this taxon have yet to be described. The primary goal of the research is to identify ontogenetic variations in this taxon. Histological analyses determined that the Deinonychus specimens AMNH 3015 and MOR 1178 were adults. Comparisons are made between MCZ 8791 and these adult specimens. The holotype, YPM 5205, and the other associated specimens of this taxon within the YPM collection are similar in size and morphology to AMNH 3015. Further comparisons were made with the three partial specimens OMNH 50268, MCZ 4371, and MOR 1182. Although these specimens represent only a partial ontogenetic series, a number of morphological variations can be described. One secondary goal of this research is to compare the known pattern of variable, informative, ontogenetic characters in MCZ 8791 to a similar pattern of morphological characters in the sub-adult dromaeosaurid specimen Bambiraptor feinbergorum, AMNH FR: 30556. If the characters that have been determined to represent variable juvenile morphology in the ontogeny of Deinonychus are exhibited in Bambiraptor, this study will begin the process of determining whether a similar, conservative, ontogenetic pattern exists throughout the rest of Dromaeosauridae. If defensible, it may reduce the number of sympatric taxa within this clade. The other secondary goal relates to the forelimb function. The approximate body size, forelimb length, wrist development, and the presence of a more prominent olecranon on the ulna of MCZ 8791 support the hypothesis that juveniles of this taxon possessed some form of flight capability. © 2015 Parsons, Parsons.


PubMed | Buffalo Museum of Science
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

This research resulted from the determination that MCZ 8791 is a specimen of Deinonychus antirrhopus between one and two years of age and that the morphological variations within particular growth stages of this taxon have yet to be described. The primary goal of the research is to identify ontogenetic variations in this taxon. Histological analyses determined that the Deinonychus specimens AMNH 3015 and MOR 1178 were adults. Comparisons are made between MCZ 8791 and these adult specimens. The holotype, YPM 5205, and the other associated specimens of this taxon within the YPM collection are similar in size and morphology to AMNH 3015. Further comparisons were made with the three partial specimens OMNH 50268, MCZ 4371, and MOR 1182. Although these specimens represent only a partial ontogenetic series, a number of morphological variations can be described. One secondary goal of this research is to compare the known pattern of variable, informative, ontogenetic characters in MCZ 8791 to a similar pattern of morphological characters in the sub-adult dromaeosaurid specimen Bambiraptor feinbergorum, AMNH FR: 30556. If the characters that have been determined to represent variable juvenile morphology in the ontogeny of Deinonychus are exhibited in Bambiraptor, this study will begin the process of determining whether a similar, conservative, ontogenetic pattern exists throughout the rest of Dromaeosauridae. If defensible, it may reduce the number of sympatric taxa within this clade. The other secondary goal relates to the forelimb function. The approximate body size, forelimb length, wrist development, and the presence of a more prominent olecranon on the ulna of MCZ 8791 support the hypothesis that juveniles of this taxon possessed some form of flight capability.

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