Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: How to build a bony vertebrate in evolutionary time
Author: Giles, Sam
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 3888
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
Jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) account for over 99% of living vertebrate diversity, with origins that stretch back nearly half a billion years, and comprise two groups: Osteichthyes (fishes and land-dwelling vertebrates) and Chondrichthyes (sharks, rays and chimaeras). Osteichthyans are the dominant clade, with at least 60,000 species approximately evenly divided between two clades: the Actinopterygii and the Sarcopterygii. However, our understanding of early osteichthyan evolution is skewed in favour of sarcopterygians, leaving the origin of nearly half of all vertebrate diversity critically understudied. Furthermore, recent upheavals in the early gnathostome tree have destabilised relationships amongst fossil taxa and eroded our understanding of primitive anatomical conditions of key groups. Central to understanding early gnathostome evolution is the braincase, an anatomically complex structure that provides a wealth of morphological characters. However, braincases rarely fossilise, and their position inside the skull makes them difficult to attain. X-ray tomography allows a comprehensive description of the internal and external anatomy of fossils, including the braincase. This thesis sets out to target phylogenetically pivotal taxa and incorporate new anatomical data in building up a picture of character evolution in early jawed vertebrates. In particular, I target the gnathostome stem, describing a new taxon that helps bridge the morphological gap between placoderms and crown gnathostomes, allowing a more comprehensive understanding of both dermal and endoskeletal evolution. I also focus on early actinopterygians, describing the endoskeleton of the first members of the group in order to understand primitive anatomical conditions. I then investigate actinopterygian braincase anatomy in the context of a revised phylogenetic analysis, illuminating the early evolution of the actinopterygians. Finally, I present a synthetic review of braincase anatomy across the early gnathostome tree. These results provide a more accurate picture of braincase evolution across gnathostomes and actinopterygians, clarifying our understanding of their evolution while revealing new information about when key innovations arose in the brains of the very first ray-finned fishes.
Supervisor: Friedman, Matt Sponsor: Natural Environmental Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Paleontology ; Paleobiology ; Vertebrates ; Fossil ; Vertebrates--Evolution ; Vertebrates--Anatomy