PNAS Paper Suggests Predation was Responsible for Crinoid Diversification during Mesozoic

16 03 2010
Agaricocrinus splandens

Agaricocrinus splandens, a crinoid from the Mississippian Period

A paper published Monday, Mar. 15, in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS), draws a connection between evidence of early predation and the adaptive radiation experienced by crinoids during the early Mesozoic.  The multi-author paper points to changes in the group following their near-extinction during the end-Permian mass extinction.  This contrasts with the “major evolutionary radiation [the group underwent] during the Middle–Late Triassic that produced distinct morphological and behavioral novelties, particularly motile taxa that contrasted strongly with the predominantly sessile Paleozoic crinoid faunas.”  The authors suggest “that the appearance and subsequent evolutionary success of motile crinoids were related to benthic predation by post-Paleozoic echinoids with their stronger and more active feeding apparatus and that, in the case of crinoids, the predation-driven Mesozoic marine revolution started earlier than in other groups, perhaps soon after the end-Permian extinction.”

For the abstract and complete article, please see the following link:
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/recent.

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