Live birth in an archosauromorph reptile

Jun Liu, Chris L Organ, Michael J Benton, Matthew C Brandley, Jonathan C Aitchison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

14 Citations (Scopus)
368 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Live birth has evolved many times independently in vertebrates, such as mammals and diverse groups of lizards and snakes. However, live birth is unknown in the major clade Archosauromorpha, a group that first evolved some 260 million years ago and is represented today by birds and crocodilians. Here we report the discovery of a pregnant long-necked marine reptile (Dinocephalosaurus) from the Middle Triassic (∼245 million years ago) of southwest China showing live birth in archosauromorphs. Our discovery pushes back evidence of reproductive biology in the clade by roughly 50 million years, and shows that there is no fundamental reason that archosauromorphs could not achieve live birth. Our phylogenetic models indicate that Dinocephalosaurus determined the sex of their offspring by sex chromosomes rather than by environmental temperature like crocodilians. Our results provide crucial evidence for genotypic sex determination facilitating land-water transitions in amniotes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14445
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2017

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  • Cite this

    Liu, J., Organ, C. L., Benton, M. J., Brandley, M. C., & Aitchison, J. C. (2017). Live birth in an archosauromorph reptile. Nature Communications, 8, [14445]. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms14445