The infographic shows differences in jaw functional anatomy and body size and possible ecological consequences found in studies of more mammal-like behaviors among ancient predatory Synapsids. Credit: Artwork – Suresh A. Singh. Enter – Kruger Sightings HD.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and the Open University say that the evolutionary success of the first large predators on Earth was based on the need to improve them as killers.

Mammalian progenitors ruled the earth for about 60 million years, long before the first dinosaurs arose. They diversified as top predators on Earth between 315-251 million years ago.

The researchers studied the jaw anatomy and body size of the carnivorous Synapsids, using these traits to reconstruct the possible feeding habits of these ancient predators and chart their ecology. through time. They found a major change in synapsid jaw function around 270 million years ago associated with a major shift in hunting behavior that has important implications for the evolution of our earliest ancestors.

Thesis, “Predatory synapsid ecomorphology indicates late Palaeozoic increased dynamics “Is published In the journal Communication Biology.

As herbivores grew larger and faster, carnivores adapted to become larger and better predators to survive.

“Early synapsid predators such as the famous cell-powered Dimetrodon had long enough jaws with lots of teeth to ensure that once they caught their prey they couldn’t escape,” Bristol’s Lead author Dr. Suresh Singh, based at the School of Earth, explained. Sciences

“However, we saw a shift in jaw function toward smaller jaws with greater muscle efficiency and fewer teeth that were focused on the front of the jaw—jaws that were adapted for deep, powerful bites.

“The change suggests that later synapsid carnivores placed more emphasis on injuring their prey more and killing more quickly. Among these later synapsids were the first sabertoothed carnivores.

This finding provides important context for an important step in synapsid evolution. “The reorganization of synapsid jaws has thus far been recognized as a major step in mammalian evolution,” added Dr. Armin Elsler, a co-author of the study.

“These changes not only made the jaw more efficient; they also marked the earliest redevelopment of the jaw that created the complex ear found in mammals. What made this first step? Our The study suggests that this was partly due to environmental stressors. From their hunting.”

Scientists suggest that the killer instinct led to the evolution of the predatory ancestors of mammals

Ecological focus of synapsid carnivorous functional feeding groups. Credit: Communication biology (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-024-05879-2

Co-author Dr Tom Stubbs said, “The timing of the change in jaw function is consistent with the evolution of new larger, faster herbivores that would have posed a greater challenge to predators.

“The risks of being injured or killed by carnivores increased, so some synapsid carnivores became larger, better killers to overcome these risks.”

This change reflects a new dynamic. – Predator interactions that show life on Earth is moving more quickly.

“The late Paleozoic was when animals first started living on land, eating and fully reproducing,” said Professor Mike Benton, co-supervisor of the study.

“They became fully terrestrial, colonizing new habitats and exploiting new resources further inland from the aquatic environment they had previously relied on.

“Our results show how the selective pressures on these early land animals changed as they became better adapted to life on land — catching up with other animals that could move faster and grow to larger sizes, Much more difficult than catching small slippery fish or amphibians.”

Professor Emily Rayfield also co-supervised the study. He added, “Predator-prey interactions are a major driver of animal behavior today, so it’s quite interesting to look at this effect through millions of years of physiological evolution, and to find that it has something to do with our own evolutionary history.” are likely responsible for the large jump.

“This highlights how biologists can use the relationship between form and function to learn how different prehistoric animals might have lived, which tells us a lot about the evolution of life on Earth.” can.”

The researchers also found that synapsid carnivore morphological diversity increased after the change, with the addition of new functional groups that were adapted to either faster bite speeds or even more powerful bites—about 265–251 million years ago. By comparing the size of these new carnivore species within different communities over time, they found that these communities began to closely resemble modern carnivorous mammals.

More information:
Suresh A. Singh et al., Predatory synapsid ecomorphology indicates increased dynamics of Late Paleozoic terrestrial ecosystems, Communication biology (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-024-05879-2

Reference: Killer instinct drove evolution of predatory ancestors of mammals, scientists suggest (2024, February 23) https://phys.org/news/2024-02-killer-instinct-drove-evolution February 23, 2024 Retrieved from -mammals.html

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