[MARMAM] Evolution and diversification of delphinid skull shapes

Anders Galatius agj at bios.au.dk
Wed Oct 7 00:21:44 PDT 2020

Dear MARMAMers,

On behalf of the author team, I am pleased to share our recent paper ‘Evolution and diversification of delphinid skull shapes’ by A Galatius, R Racicot, M McGowen and MT Olsen in iScience, where we model delphinid skull shape evolution and look into the selective pressures that have shaped the diversity we see today.

The paper can be accessed at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2589004220307355

The diversity of the dolphin family was established during a short window of time. We investigated delphinid skull shape evolution, mapping shapes on an up-to-date nuclear phylogeny. In this model, the common ancestor was similar to Lagenorhynchus albirostris. Initial diversification occurred in three directions: toward specialized raptorial feeders of small prey with longer, narrower beaks, e.g., Delphinus; toward wider skulls with downward-oriented rostra and reduced temporal fossae, exemplified by suction feeders, e.g., Globicephala; and toward shorter and wider skulls/rostra and enlarged temporal fossae, e.g., Orcinus. Skull shape diversity was established early, the greatest later developments being adaptation of Steno to raptorial feeding on large prey and the convergence of Pseudorca toward Orcinus, related to handling large prey. Delphinid skull shapes are related to feeding mode and prey size, whereas adaptation to habitat is not marked. Over a short period, delphinid skulls have evolved a diversity eclipsing other extant odontocete clades.

I am available for any questions!

Best regards,


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