Data from: A quantitative method for inferring locomotory shifts in amniotes during ontogeny, its application to dinosaurs, and its bearing on the evolution of posture
Chapelle, Kimberley E. J. et al. (2019), Data from: A quantitative method for inferring locomotory shifts in amniotes during ontogeny, its application to dinosaurs, and its bearing on the evolution of posture, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.j4869rd
Evolutionary transitions between quadrupedal and bipedal postures are pivotal to the diversification of amniotes on land, including in our own lineage (Hominini). Heterochrony is suggested as a macroevolutionary mechanism for postural transitions, but understanding postural evolution in deep time is hindered by a lack of methods for inferring posture in extinct species. Dinosaurs are an excellent natural laboratory for understanding postural transitions, because their lineage contains at least four instances of quadrupedality evolving from bipedality, and because heterochronic processes have been put forward as an explanatory model for these transitions. We extend a quantitative method for reliably inferring posture in tetrapods to the study of ontogenetic postural transitions, using measurements of proportional limb robusticity. We apply this method to ontogenetic series of living and extinct amniotes, with a focus on dinosaurs. Our method correctly predicts the general pattern of ontogenetic conservation of quadrupedal and bipedal postures in many living amniote species and infers the same pattern in some dinosaurs. Furthermore, it correctly predicts the ontogenetic postural shift from quadrupedal crawling to bipedal walking in humans. We also infer a transition from early ontogenetic quadrupedality to late-ontogenetic bipedality in the transitional sauropodomorph dinosaur Mussaurus patagonicus and possibly in the early branching ceratopsian Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis. The phylogenetic positions of these ontogenetic shifts suggest that heterochrony may indeed play a role in the macroevolution of posture, at least in dinosaurs. Our method has substantial potential for testing evolutionary transitions between locomotor modes, especially in elucidating the role of evolutionary mechanisms such as heterochrony.