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UCL Division of Biosciences

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Latest papers published by the Evans Lab

9 January 2018

"The first record of albanerpetontid amphibians (Amphibia: Albanerpetontidae) from East Asia"Abstract: Albanerpetontids are an enigmatic fossil amphibian group known from deposits of Middle Jurassic to Pliocene age.

The oldest and youngest records are from Europe, but the group appeared in North America in the late Early Cretaceous and radiated there during the Late Cretaceous. Until now, the Asian record has been limited to fragmentary specimens from the Late Cretaceous of Uzbekistan. This led to speculation that albanerpetontids migrated into eastern Asia from North America in the Albian to Cenomanian interval via the Beringian land bridge. However, here we describe albanerpetontid specimens from the Lower Cretaceous Kuwajima Formation of Japan, a record that predates their first known occurrence in North America. One specimen, an association of skull and postcranial bones from a single small individual, permits the diagnosis of a new taxon. High Resolution X-ray Computed Microtomography has revealed previously unrecorded features of albanerpetontid skull morphology in three dimensions, including the presence of a supraoccipital and epipterygoids, neither of which occurs in any known lissamphibian. The placement of this new taxon within the current phylogenetic framework for Albanerpetontidae is complicated by a limited overlap of comparable elements, most notably the non-preservation of the premaxillae in the Japanese taxon. Nonetheless, phylogenetic analysis places the new taxon closer to Albanerpeton than to Anoualerpeton, Celtedens, or Wesserpeton, although Bootstrap support values are weak. The results also question the monophyly of Albanerpeton as currently defined.

Read full paper: The first record of albanerpetontid amphibians (Amphibia: Albanerpetontidae) from East Asia

Authors: Ryoko Matsumoto, Susan E. Evans

"The biomechanical role of the chondrocranium and sutures in a lizard cranium"
Abstract: The role of soft tissues in skull biomechanics remains poorly understood. Not least, the chondrocranium, the portion of the braincase which persists as cartilage with varying degrees of mineralization. It also remains commonplace to overlook the biomechanical role of sutures despite evidence that they alter strain distribution. Here, we examine the role of both the sutures and the chondrocranium in the South American tegu lizard Salvator merianae. We use multi-body dynamics analysis (MDA) to provide realistic loading conditions for anterior and posterior unilateral biting and a detailed finite element model to examine strain magnitude and distribution. We find that strains within the chondrocranium are greatest during anterior biting and are primarily tensile; also that strain within the cranium is not greatly reduced by the presence of the chondrocranium unless it is given the same material properties as bone. This result contradicts previous suggestions that the anterior portion (the nasal septum) acts as a supporting structure. Inclusion of sutures to the cranium model not only increases overall strain magnitudes but also leads to a more complex distribution of tension and compression rather than that of a beam under sagittal bending.

Read full paper: The biomechanical role of the chondrocranium and sutures in a lizard cranium

Authors: Marc E. H. Jones, Flora Gröning, Hugo Dutel, Alana Sharp, Michael J. Fagan, Susan E. Evans