Int. J. Dev. Biol. 58: 949 - 960 (2014)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.140322mt
© UPV/EHU Press

Integrating developmental biology and the fossil record of reptiles

Tomasz Skawiński1 and Mateusz Tałanda*,2

1Department of Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Vertebrates, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland and 2 Department of Palaeobiology and Evolution, Faculty of Biology, Biological and Chemical Research Centre, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

ABSTRACT Numerous new discoveries and new research techniques have influenced our understanding of reptile development from a palaeontological perspective. They suggest for example that transition from mineralized to leathery eggshells and from oviparity to viviparity appeared much more often in the evolution of reptiles than was previously thought. Most marine reptiles evolved from viviparous terrestrial ancestors and had probably genetic sex determination. Fossil forms often display developmental traits absent or rare among modern ones such as polydactyly, hyperphalangy, the presence of ribcage armour, reduction of head ornamentation during ontogeny, extreme modifications of vertebral count or a wide range of feather-like structures. Thus, they provide an empirical background for many morphogenetic considerations.


evo-devo, palaeontology, embryology, development, ontogeny

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