The morphology of the pectoral girdle, the skeletal structure connecting the wing to the body, is a key determinant of flight capability, but in some respects is poorly known among stem birds. Here, the pectoral girdles of the Early Cretaceous birds Sapeornis and Piscivorenantiornis are reconstructed for the first time based on computed tomography and three-dimensional visualization, revealing key morphological details that are important for our understanding of early flight evolution. Sapeornis exhibits a double articulation system (widely present in non-enantiornithine pennaraptoran theropods including crown birds) which involves, alongside the main scapula-coracoid joint, a small subsidiary joint, though variation exists with respect to the shape and size of the main and subsidiary articular contacts in non-enantiornithine pennaraptorans. This double articulation system contrasts with Piscivorenantiornis in which a spatially restricted scapula-coracoid joint formed by a single set of opposing articular surfaces, a feature also present in other members of Enantiornithines, a major clade of stem birds known only from the Cretaceous. The unique single articulation system may reflect correspondingly unique flight behavior in enantiornithine birds, but this hypothesis requires further investigation from a functional perspective. Our renderings indicate that both Sapeornis and Piscivorenantiornis had a partially closed triosseal canal (a passage for muscle tendon that plays a key role in raising the wing), and our study suggests that this type of triosseal canal occurred in all known non-euornithine birds except Archaeopteryx, representing a transitional stage in flight apparatus evolution before the appearance of a fully closed bony triosseal canal as in modern birds. Our study reveals additional lineage-specific variations in pectoral girdle anatomy, as well as significant modification of the pectoral girdle along the line to crown birds. These modifications produced diverse pectoral girdle morphologies among Mesozoic birds, which allowed a commensurate range of capability levels and styles to emerge during the early evolution of flight.
All data are available in the article
- Dongyu Hu
- Dongyu Hu
- Corwin Sullivan
- Corwin Sullivan
- Corwin Sullivan
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- David Lentink, University of Groningen, Netherlands
© 2022, Wang et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Maintaining germline genome integrity is essential and enormously complex. Although many proteins are involved in DNA replication, proofreading, and repair, mutator alleles have largely eluded detection in mammals. DNA replication and repair proteins often recognize sequence motifs or excise lesions at specific nucleotides. Thus, we might expect that the spectrum of de novo mutations – the frequencies of C>T, A>G, etc. – will differ between genomes that harbor either a mutator or wild-type allele. Previously, we used quantitative trait locus mapping to discover candidate mutator alleles in the DNA repair gene Mutyh that increased the C>A germline mutation rate in a family of inbred mice known as the BXDs (Sasani et al., 2022, Ashbrook et al., 2021). In this study we developed a new method to detect alleles associated with mutation spectrum variation and applied it to mutation data from the BXDs. We discovered an additional C>A mutator locus on chromosome 6 that overlaps Ogg1, a DNA glycosylase involved in the same base-excision repair network as Mutyh (David et al., 2007). Its effect depends on the presence of a mutator allele near Mutyh, and BXDs with mutator alleles at both loci have greater numbers of C>A mutations than those with mutator alleles at either locus alone. Our new methods for analyzing mutation spectra reveal evidence of epistasis between germline mutator alleles and may be applicable to mutation data from humans and other model organisms.
Primate evolution has led to a remarkable diversity of behavioral specializations and pronounced brain size variation among species (Barton, 2012; DeCasien and Higham, 2019; Powell et al., 2017). Gene expression provides a promising opportunity for studying the molecular basis of brain evolution, but it has been explored in very few primate species to date (e.g. Khaitovich et al., 2005; Khrameeva et al., 2020; Ma et al., 2022; Somel et al., 2009). To understand the landscape of gene expression evolution across the primate lineage, we generated and analyzed RNA-seq data from four brain regions in an unprecedented eighteen species. Here, we show a remarkable level of variation in gene expression among hominid species, including humans and chimpanzees, despite their relatively recent divergence time from other primates. We found that individual genes display a wide range of expression dynamics across evolutionary time reflective of the diverse selection pressures acting on genes within primate brain tissue. Using our samples that represent a 190-fold difference in primate brain size, we identified genes with variation in expression most correlated with brain size. Our study extensively broadens the phylogenetic context of what is known about the molecular evolution of the brain across primates and identifies novel candidate genes for the study of genetic regulation of brain evolution.