New non-dino papers:
Lida Xing, Kecheng Niu & Susan E. Evans (2019)
Inter-amphibian predation in the Early Cretaceous of China.
Scientific Reports 9, Article number: 7751
For most fossil taxa, dietary inference relies primarily on indirect evidence from jaw morphology and the dentition. In rare cases, however, preserved gut contents provide direct evidence of feeding strategy and species interaction. This is important in the reconstruction of food webs and energy flow through ancient ecosystems. The Early Cretaceous Chinese Jehol Biota has yielded several such examples, with lizards, birds, small dinosaurs, and mammals as both predator and prey. Here we describe an Early Cretaceous fossil frog specimen, genus Genibatrachus, that contains an adult salamander within its body cavity. The salamander is attributed to the hynobiid-like genus Nuominerpeton. The salamander skeleton is complete and articulated, suggesting it was caught and swallowed shortly before the frog itself died and was buried.
The lifestyle of extinct tetrapods is often difficult to assess when clear morphological adaptations such as swimming paddles are absent. According to the hypothesis of bone functional adaptation, the architecture of trabecular bone adapts sensitively to physiological loadings. Previous studies have already shown a clear relation between trabecular architecture and locomotor behavior, mainly in mammals and birds. However, a link between trabecular architecture and lifestyle has rarely been examined. Here, we analyzed trabecular architecture of different clades of reptiles characterized by a wide range of lifestyles (aquatic, amphibious, generalist terrestrial, fossorial, and climbing). Humeri of squamates, turtles, and crocodylians have been scanned with microcomputed tomography. We selected spherical volumes of interest centered in the proximal metaphyses and measured trabecular spacing, thickness and number, degree of anisotropy, average branch length, bone volume fraction, bone surface density, and connectivity density. Only bone volume fraction showed a significant phylogenetic signal and its significant difference between squamates and other reptiles could be linked to their physiologies. We found negative allometric relationships for trabecular thickness and spacing, positive allometries for connectivity density and trabecular number and no dependence with size for degree of anisotropy and bone volume fraction. The different lifestyles are well separated in the morphological space using linear discriminant analyses, but a crossâvalidation procedure indicated a limited predictive ability of the model. The trabecular bone anisotropy has shown a gradient in turtles and in squamates: higher values in amphibious than terrestrial taxa. These allometric scalings, previously emphasized in mammals and birds, seem to be valid for all amniotes. Discriminant analysis has offered, to some extent, a distinction of lifestyles, which however remains difficult to strictly discriminate. Trabecular architecture seems to be a promising tool to infer lifestyle of extinct tetrapods, especially those involved in the terrestrialization.