An analytical approach for estimating fossil record and diversification events in sharks, skates and rays.

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2012
Authors:G. Guinot, Adnet, S., Cappetta, H.
Journal:PLoS One
Date Published:2012
Keywords:Animals, Biological Evolution, Fossils, Genetic Variation, Models, Biological, Models, Theoretical, Paleontology, Phylogeny, Sharks, Skates (Fish)

BACKGROUND: Modern selachians and their supposed sister group (hybodont sharks) have a long and successful evolutionary history. Yet, although selachian remains are considered relatively common in the fossil record in comparison with other marine vertebrates, little is known about the quality of their fossil record. Similarly, only a few works based on specific time intervals have attempted to identify major events that marked the evolutionary history of this group.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Phylogenetic hypotheses concerning modern selachians' interrelationships are numerous but differ significantly and no consensus has been found. The aim of the present study is to take advantage of the range of recent phylogenetic hypotheses in order to assess the fit of the selachian fossil record to phylogenies, according to two different branching methods. Compilation of these data allowed the inference of an estimated range of diversity through time and evolutionary events that marked this group over the past 300 Ma are identified. Results indicate that with the exception of high taxonomic ranks (orders), the selachian fossil record is by far imperfect, particularly for generic and post-Triassic data. Timing and amplitude of the various identified events that marked the selachian evolutionary history are discussed.

CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Some identified diversity events were mentioned in previous works using alternative methods (Early Jurassic, mid-Cretaceous, K/T boundary and late Paleogene diversity drops), thus reinforcing the efficiency of the methodology presented here in inferring evolutionary events. Other events (Permian/Triassic, Early and Late Cretaceous diversifications; Triassic/Jurassic extinction) are newly identified. Relationships between these events and paleoenvironmental characteristics and other groups' evolutionary history are proposed.

Alternate Journal:PLoS ONE
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith