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Data from: Climatic drivers of latitudinal variation in Late Triassic tetrapod diversity

Cite this dataset

Dunne, Emma et al. (2020). Data from: Climatic drivers of latitudinal variation in Late Triassic tetrapod diversity [Dataset]. Dryad.


The latitudinal biodiversity gradient (LBG), the increase in biodiversity from the poles to the equator, is one of the most widely recognised global macroecological patterns, yet its deep time evolution and drivers remain uncertain. The Late Triassic (237–201 million years ago), a critical interval for the early evolution and radiation of modern tetrapod groups (e.g. crocodylomorphs, dinosaurs, mammaliamorphs), offers a unique opportunity to explore the palaeolatitudinal patterns of tetrapod diversity since it is extensively sampled spatially when compared with other pre-Cenozoic intervals, particularly at lower palaeolatitudes. Here, we explore palaeolatitudinal patterns of Late Triassic tetrapod diversity by applying sampling standardisation to comprehensive occurrence data from the Paleobiology Database. We then use palaeoclimatic model simulations to explore the palaeoclimatic ranges occupied by major tetrapod groups, allowing insight into the influence of palaeoclimate on the palaeolatitudinal distribution of these groups. Our results show that Late Triassic tetrapods generally do not conform to a modern-type LBG; instead, sampling-standardised species richness is highest at mid-palaeolatitudes. In contrast, the richness of pseudosuchians (crocodylians and their relatives) is highest at the palaeoequator, a pattern that is retained throughout their subsequent evolutionary history. Pseudosuchians generally occupied a more restricted range of palaeoclimatic conditions than other tetrapod groups, a condition analogous to modern day reptilian ectotherms, while avemetatarsalians (the archosaur group containing dinosaurs and pterosaurs) exhibit comparatively wider ranges, which is more similar to modern endotherms, such as birds and mammals, suggesting important implications for the evolution of thermal physiology in dinosaurs.

Usage notes

Supplementary material & data

Additional figures and tables: Supplementary_material.pdf

Data file: Late_Triassic_tetrapod_occurrences_cleaned.csv

Code for 'cleaning' datasets downloaded from the Paleobiology Database such as the one used in this study (cleaning_code.R). This code and example datasets are also available at:


European Research Council, Award: 637483

Leverhulme Trust, Award: RPG‐2019-365

Natural Environment Research Council, Award: NE/I005714/1,NE/I005722/1,NE/L011050/1,NE/P013805/1,NE/P01903X/1