Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
  • Publication
    Estimating body mass in New World "monkeys" (Platyrrhini, Primates), with a consideration of the Miocene platyrrhine, Chilecebus carrascoensis
    Well-constrained estimates of adult body mass for fossil platyrrhine species (New World "monkeys") are essential for resolving numerous paleobiological questions. However, no consensus exists as to which craniodental measures best correlate with body mass among extant taxa in this clade. In this analysis, we analyze 80 craniodental variables and generate predictive equations applicable to fossil taxa, including the early platyrrhine Chilecebus carrascoensis. We find mandibular length to be the best craniodental predictor of body mass. There is no significant difference in predictive value between osteological and dental measures. Variables associated with the mandible and lower dentition do significantly outperform the cranium and upper dentition. Additionally, we demonstrate that modern platyrrhines differ, morphometrically, from early fossil forms. Chilecebus possesses unusual cranial proportions in several key features, as well as proportionally narrow upper incisors and wide upper cheek teeth. These variables yield widely divergent body mass estimates for Chilecebus, implying that the correlations observed in a crown group cannot be assumed a priori for early diverging fossils. Variables allometrically consistent with those in extant forms yield a body mass estimate of slightly less than 600 grams for Chilecebus, nearly a factor of two smaller than prior preliminary estimates. Scaled to body mass, the brain of Chilecebus is markedly smaller than those of modern anthropoids, despite its lowered body mass estimate advocated here. This finding, in conjunction with a similar pattern exhibited by fossil catarrhines, suggests that increased encephalization arose independently in the two extant subgroups of anthropoids (platyrrhines and catarrhines).
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  • Publication
    Morphological change in cranial shape following the transition to agriculture across western Eurasia
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2016-09-13) ; ;
    The Neolithic transition brought about fundamental social, dietary and behavioural changes in human populations, which, in turn, impacted skeletal morphology. Crania are shaped through diverse genetic, ontogenetic and environmental factors, reflecting various elements of an individual’s life. To determine the transition’s effect on cranial morphology, we investigated its potential impact on the face and vault, two elements potentially responding to different influences. Three datasets from geographically distant regions (Ukraine, Iberia, and the Levant plus Anatolia) were analysed. Craniometric measurements were used to compare the morphology of pre-transition populations with that of agricultural populations. The Neolithic transition corresponds to a statistically significant increase only in cranial breadth of the Ukrainian vaults, while facial morphology shows no consistent transformations, despite expected changes related to the modification of masticatory behaviour. The broadening of Ukrainian vaults may be attributable to dietary and/or social changes. However, the lack of change observed in the other geographical regions and the lack of consistent change in facial morphology are surprising. Although the transition from foraging to farming is a process that took place repeatedly across the globe, different characteristics of transitions seem responsible for idiosyncratic responses in cranial morphology.
      429Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    A novel method of microsatellite genotyping-by-sequencing using individual combinatorial barcoding
    This study examines the potential of next-generation sequencing based 'genotyping-by-sequencing'(GBS) of microsatellite loci for rapid and cost-effective genotyping in large-scale population genetic studies. The recovery of individual genotypes from large sequence pools was achieved by PCR-incorporated combinatorial barcoding using universal primers. Three experimental conditions were employed to explore the possibility of using this approach with existing and novel multiplex marker panels and weighted amplicon mixture. The GBS approach was validated against microsatellite data generated by capillary electrophoresis. GBS allows access to the underlying nucleotide sequences that can reveal homoplasy, even in large datasets and facilitates cross laboratory transfer. GBS of microsatellites, using individual combinatorial barcoding, is potentially faster and cheaper than current microsatellite approaches and offers better and more data.
      349Scopus© Citations 53
  • Publication
    The Identification of a 1916 Irish Rebel: New Approach for Estimating Relatedness from Low Coverage Homozygous Genomes
    Thomas Kent was an Irish rebel who was executed by British forces in the aftermath of the Easter Rising armed insurrection of 1916 and buried in a shallow grave on Cork prison’s grounds. In 2015, ninety-nine years after his death, a state funeral was offered to his living family to honor his role in the struggle for Irish independence. However, inaccuracies in record keeping did not allow the bodily remains that supposedly belonged to Kent to be identified with absolute certainty. Using a novel approach based on homozygous single nucleotide polymorphisms, we identified these remains to be those of Kent by comparing his genetic data to that of two known living relatives. As the DNA degradation found on Kent’s DNA, characteristic of ancient DNA, rendered traditional methods of relatedness estimation unusable, we forced all loci homozygous, in a process we refer to as 'forced homozygote approach'. The results were confirmed using simulated data for different relatedness classes. We argue that this method provides a necessary alternative for relatedness estimations, not only in forensic analysis, but also in ancient DNA studies, where reduced amounts of genetic information can limit the application of traditional methods.
      438Scopus© Citations 10
  • Publication
    Complex body size trends in the evolution of sloths (Xenarthra: Pilosa)
    Extant sloths present an evolutionary conundrum in that the two living genera are superficially similar (small-bodied, folivorous, arboreal) but diverged from one another approximately 30 million years ago and are phylogenetically separated by a radiation of medium to massive, mainly ground-dwelling, taxa.  Indeed, the species in the two living genera are among the smallest, and perhaps most unusual, of the 50+ known sloth species, and must have independently and convergently evolved small size and arboreality.  In order to accurately reconstruct sloth evolution, it is critical to incorporate their extinct diversity in analyses.  Here, we used a dataset of 57 species of living and fossil sloths to examine changes in body mass mean and variance through their evolution, employing a general time-variable model that allows for analysis of evolutionary trends in continuous characters within clades lacking fully-resolved phylogenies, such as sloths.Results:Our analyses supported eight models, all of which partition sloths into multiple subgroups, suggesting distinct modes of body size evolution among the major sloth lineages.  Model-averaged parameter values supported trended walks in most clades, with estimated rates of body mass change ranging as high as 126kg/million years for the giant ground sloth clades Megatheriidae and Nothrotheriidae.  Inclusion of living sloth species in the analyses weakened reconstructed rates for their respective groups, with estimated rates for Megalonychidae four times higher when the extant genus Choloepus species was excluded.  Conclusions:Analyses based on extant taxa alone have the potential to oversimplify or misidentify macroevolutionary patterns. This study demonstrates the impact that integration of data from the fossil record can have on reconstructions of character evolution and establishes that body size evolution in sloths was complex, but dominated by trended walks towards the enormous sizes exhibited in some recently extinct forms.
      422Scopus© Citations 35