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The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates

Authors
  • Müller, Johannes
  • Bickelmann, Constanze
  • Sobral, Gabriela
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
May 30, 2018
Volume
46
Pages
495–519
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010120
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Sensory perception is of crucial importance for animals to interact with their biotic and abiotic environment. In amniotes, the clade including modern mammals (Synapsida), modern reptiles (Reptilia), and their fossil relatives, the evolution of sensory perception took place in a stepwise manner after amniotes appeared in the Carboniferous. Fossil evidence suggests that Paleozoic taxa had only a limited amount of sensory capacities relative to later forms, with the majority of more sophisticated types of sensing evolving during the Triassic and Jurassic. Alongside the evolution of improved sensory capacities, various types of social communication evolved across different groups. At present there is no definitive evidence for a relationship between sensory evolution and species diversification. It cannot be excluded, however, that selection for improved sensing was partially triggered by biotic interactions, e.g., in the context of niche competition, whereas ecospace expansion, especially during the Mesozoic, might also have played an important role.

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