Data from: Heterochronic shifts and conserved embryonic shape underlie crocodylian craniofacial disparity and convergence
Morris, Zachary S.; Vliet, Kent A.; Abzhanov, Arkhat; Pierce, Stephanie E. (2019), Data from: Heterochronic shifts and conserved embryonic shape underlie crocodylian craniofacial disparity and convergence, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6cv82g1
The distinctive anatomy of the crocodylian skull is intimately linked with dietary ecology, resulting in repeated convergence on blunt- and slender-snouted ecomorphs. These evolutionary shifts depend upon modifications of the developmental processes which direct growth and morphogenesis. Here we examine the evolution of cranial ontogenetic trajectories to shed light on the mechanisms underlying convergent snout evolution. We use geometric morphometrics to quantify skeletogenesis in an evolutionary context and reconstruct ancestral patterns of ontogenetic allometry to understand the developmental drivers of craniofacial diversity within Crocodylia. Our analyses uncovered a conserved embryonic region of morphospace (CER) shared by all non-gavialid crocodylians regardless of their eventual adult ecomorph. This observation suggests the presence of conserved developmental processes during early development (before Ferguson stage 20) across most of Crocodylia. Ancestral state reconstruction of ontogenetic trajectories revealed heterochrony, developmental constraint, and developmental systems drift have all played essential roles in the evolution of ecomorphs. Based on these observations, we conclude that two separate, but interconnected, developmental programs controlling craniofacial morphogenesis and growth enabled the evolutionary plasticity of skull shape in crocodylians.
National Science Foundation, Award: NSF DDIG Award #1701745