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[dinosaur] Crocodyliform snout form and function (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper with free pdf:

Free pdf:

Stephanie K Drumheller & Eric W Wilberg (2019)
A synthetic approach for assessing the interplay of form and function in the crocodyliform snout.
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, zlz081 (advance online publication)
doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz081

Existing classifications of snout shape within Crocodylia are supported by functional studies, but ecological surveys often reveal a higher than expected diversity of prey items within putatively specialist groups, and research into bite force and predation behaviour does not always reveal significant differences between snout shape groups. The addition of more distantly related crocodyliforms complicates the ecomorphological signal, because these groups often occupy a larger area of morphospace than the crown group alone. Here, we present an expanded classification of snout shapes and diets across Crocodyliformes, bringing together geometric morphometrics, non-hierarchical cluster analyses, phylogenetic analyses, ancestral state reconstructions, ecological surveys of diet, and feeding traces from the fossil record to build and test predictive models for linking snout shape and function across the clade. When applied to living members of the group, these new classifications partition out based on differences in predator body mass and maximal prey size. When applied to fossils, these classifications predict potential prey items and identify possible examples of scavenging. In a phylogenetic context, these ecomorphs reveal differences in dietary strategies and diversity within major crocodyliform clades. Taken together, these patterns suggest that crocodyliform diversity, in terms of both morphology and diet, has been underestimated.


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