Research Topic

Origin and Early Evolution of Amniotes

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About this Research Topic

Amniotes comprise all fully terrestrial vertebrates and include extant squamates, turtles, crocodiles, birds and mammals. The origin of amniotes, tightly linked to the amniotic egg as a key innovation, represents a major transition in the evolutionary history of tetrapods. Amniotes first appeared in the ...

Amniotes comprise all fully terrestrial vertebrates and include extant squamates, turtles, crocodiles, birds and mammals. The origin of amniotes, tightly linked to the amniotic egg as a key innovation, represents a major transition in the evolutionary history of tetrapods. Amniotes first appeared in the fossil record about 318 million years ago and their early evolution, diversification, ecology and phylogenetic relationships have received considerable and increasing interest and research attention over the past decades. Recently, several new hypotheses regarding early amniote interrelationships have been proposed, and it is now apparent that the origin and early evolution of Amniota is not as clear as was previously thought. In order to better understand early amniote evolution and test existing hypotheses, it is critical to continue expanding upon past work with the addition of new data and application of modern technologies and approaches.

The main goal of this Research Topic is to provide a platform to present and integrate novel data and test hypotheses regarding the origin and early evolution of amniotes and the interrelationships of early reptiles and synapsids. The anatomical description of new specimens and taxa of early amniotes and the reassessment of previously known ones using modern techniques, such as Computed Tomography (CT) and different quantitative and analytical methods, has been shown to be very important for addressing issues of early amniote phylogeny. Several hypotheses have suggested alternative topologies to the traditional view of early amniote relationships, notably: (1) recumbirostran ‘microsaurs’ within Reptilia, (2) varanopids within Reptilia, (3) parareptiles among diapsids, and (4) diadectids as basal synapsids. These hypotheses are all dramatic upheavals to early amniote phylogeny and they illustrate that our historical view of Amniota is not as stable as was once thought. The current Research Topic aims to provide new insights into the anatomy, phylogeny, ecology, and macroevolutionary patterns of this early radiation of Amniota.

Scope: Studies of late Carboniferous to late Permian amniotes and putative stem-amniotes
• Anatomical studies on early amniotes
• Phylogenetic analyses testing early amniote interrelationships
• Reassessment of fossil material using Computed Tomography (CT) scanning
• Quantitative analyses of early amniote diversity, disparity, and evolutionary patterns


Keywords: Amniotes, Phylogenetics, Anatomy, Origin, Computed tomography


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