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Reptile 'cousins' shed new light on end-Permian extinction
Date:5/5/2011

rd of extinct diversity. If you visualize evolutionary relationships in the form of branching diagrams and then plot them on a time scale, new patterns begin to emerge, with gaps in the fossil record suddenly filling rapidly."

One of the team members, Juan Cisneros of the Universidade Federal do Piau, Ininga, Brazil said: "It is as if ghosts from the past appear all of a sudden and join their relatives in a big family tree you have a bigger tree. This way, you can start analysing observed and extrapolated abundance of species through time, and you can quantify novel origination and extinction events that would otherwise go unnoticed if you were to look at known finds only."

Co-author Johannes Mller of the Museum fr Naturkunde, Berlin added: "Researchers who investigate changing diversity through time have a huge battery of basic and advanced analytical and statistical methods at their disposal to study patterns of diversification and extinction. Classic text-book views of waxing and waning of groups through deep time will certainly benefit, where possible, from the use of evolutionary thinking."

University of Washington's Linda Tsuji, also part of the research team, concluded: "This is the first time that the history of parareptiles has been examined in such detail. But this is only the beginning. These bizarre-looking vertebrates continue to inspire generations of researchers, not only those interested in mass extinctions. They are abundant, diverse, and we still know very little about their biology. We hope that this study will initiate a more in-depth study of the response of terrestrial vertebrates to global catastrophes."

The new findings are published online today in the journal Palaeontology.


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Contact: Hannah Johnson
hannah.johnson@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-928-8896
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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