Cranial modularity shifts during mammalian evolution

Goswami, A. (2006) Cranial modularity shifts during mammalian evolution. The American Naturalist, 168 (2). pp. 270-280. DOI

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The mammalian skull has been studied as several separate functional components for decades, but the study of modularity is a more recent, integrative approach toward quantitative examination of independent subsets of highly correlated traits, or modules. Although most studies of modularity focus on developmental and genetic systems, phenotypic modules have been noted in many diverse morphological structures. However, few studies have provided empirical data for comparing modules across higher taxonomic levels, limiting the ability to assess the broader evolutionary significance of modularity. This study uses 18-32 three-dimensional cranial landmarks to analyze phenotypic modularity in 106 mammalian species and demonstrates that cranial modularity is generally conserved in the evolution of therian mammals (marsupials and placentals) but differs between therians and monotremes, the two extant subclasses of Mammalia. Within therians, cluster analyses identify six distinct modules, but only three modules display significant integration in all species. Monotremes display only two highly integrated modules. Specific hypotheses of functional and developmental influences on cranial bones were tested. Theoretical correlation matrices for bones were constructed on the basis of shared function, tissue origin, or mode of ossification, and all three of these models are significantly correlated with observed correlation matrices for the mammalian cranium.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: NIL AREP 2006 P
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
Journal or Publication Title: The American Naturalist
Volume: 168
Page Range: pp. 270-280
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2009 13:02
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:07

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