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Dynamic biogeographic models and dinosaur origins

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 December 2018

Michael S. Y. LEE
Biological Sciences Building, College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia. Email: Earth Sciences Section, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.
Matthew G. BARON
Department of Earth Science, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK. Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
Department of Earth Science, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK.
Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
E-mail address:


A comprehensive analysis of early dinosaur relationships raised the possibility that the group may have originated in Laurasia (Northern Hemisphere), rather than Gondwana (Southern Hemisphere) as often thought. However, that study focused solely on morphology and phylogenetic relationships and did not quantitatively evaluate this issue. Here, we investigate dinosaur origins using a novel Bayesian framework uniting tip-dated phylogenetics with dynamic, time-sliced biogeographic methods, which explicitly account for the age and locality of fossils and the changing interconnections of areas through time due to tectonic and eustatic change. Our analysis finds strong support for a Gondwanan origin of Dinosauria, with 99 % probability for South America (83 % for southern South America). Parsimony analysis gives concordant results. Inclusion of time-sliced biogeographic information affects ancestral state reconstructions (e.g., high connectivity between two regions increases uncertainty over which is the ancestral area) and influences tree topology (disfavouring uniting fossil taxa from localities that were widely separated during the relevant time slice). Our approach directly integrates plate tectonics with phylogenetics and divergence dating, and in doing so reaffirms southern South America as the most likely area for the geographic origin of Dinosauria.

Copyright © The Royal Society of Edinburgh 2018 

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