Symposia (invited participants only)
Symposia will be presented in the following topics:
- Archaeopteryx - the iconic fossil in modern view
- The lives of temnospondyls: investigations into their biology
- Putting fossils in trees: new methods for combining morphology, time, and molecules to estimate phylogenetic position and divergence times of living and fossil taxa
- Ecometrics: quantitative trait-based approaches to biotic change
- The influence of R. McNeill Alexander on paleobiological inferences
Archaeopteryx - the iconic fossil in modern view
Co-Convenors: Daniela Schwarz-Wings, Martin Kundrat
Archaeopteryx is probably the most iconic vertebrate fossil. Ever since their discovery, the isolated feather and the now 11 body fossils of Archaeopteryx have been subject to intensive scientific research and quite often controversial conclusions. Over the past 150 years, our perception of the “Urvogel” has changed radically. The importance of this fossil as a pivotal evidence in the evolution of birds has never decreased, and until today, Archaeopteryx can be viewed as being phylogenetically in a position that heralds the rise of birds from feathered dinosaurs. Spectacular finds of feathered dinosaurs, “dinobirds”, and early true birds have been discovered recently, but none of them remained uncompared to Archaeopteryx, and there is barely a phylogenetic analysis on the theropod-bird transition that goes without including Archaeopteryx. Yet, until today, the Archaeopteryx fossils are viewed controversially, with some of the most critical points to be discussed being their phylogenetic position and their flight abilities.
The Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin holds one of the best preserved and most complete Archaeopteryx specimen, the “Berlin specimen”. The original fossil is on display in the permanent exhibition of the museum, and it will be visible to all interested during the Welcome Reception of the meeting. Additional to the main fossil
slab, a counterslab with beautiful feather impressions is present in the collections, as well as the isolated feather that was the initial holotype of Archaeopteryx and inspired its genus name. Several of the most recent research papers on Archaeopteryx, for example on its color pattern, biochemistry of the feather, and flight abilities, are based on the Archaeopteryx specimens of the Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin, and traditionally, researchers of this museum have a close scientific relationship to these Archaeopteryx specimens.
The importance of the Archaeopteryx fossils and their close connection to the Museum fuer Naturkunde in Berlin has inspired the idea of proposing a symposium on this particular animal, with the aim to bring together all scientists working on or being interested in a formulation of our most recent perception of Archaeopteryx. Our
symposium brings together specialists on varying research topics related to Archaeopteryx and applying various novel techniques on this fossil, so that we will be able to present the major novel interpretations of Archaeopteryx to the interest of a broad community of vertebrate paleontologists. The symposium thereby will provide a platform for all interested researchers in vertebrate paleontology to discuss critical and uncritical aspects of the “Urvogel”.
The lives of temnospondyls: investigations into their biology
Co-Convenors: Andrew Milner, Jean-Sébastien Steyer, Florian Witzmann
With over 300 genera named, the temnospondyl amphibians are the largest group of early non-amniote tetrapods and played a major role in late Palaeozoic and early Mesozoic terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. They diversified during the Carboniferous mainly in the palaeo-equatorial belt. In the Permian they spread globally and remained a significant component of all continental ecosystems. After the P-T extinction, the few surviving lineages rediversified in a more restricted range of morphotypes. Most lineages vanished at the end of the Triassic with two persisting later in the Mesozoic. Many, but not all, workers consider the lissamphibians to be a clade of dwarf temnospondyls. As with most vertebrate groups, the temnospondyls have been subject to a
range of cladistic analyses over the last two decades, and although there is no overall consensus, parts of the phylogeny are widely agreed. Up to now, most of the cladistic analyses have treated the resulting patterns as an end in themselves. There has been little consideration on how they can be interpreted in evolutionary and biological terms, but work is now in progress that should rectify this.
Putting fossils in trees: new methods for combining morphology, time, and molecules to estimate phylogenetic position and divergence times of living and fossil taxa
Co-Convenors: Nicholas J. Matzke, April Wright, Graeme Lloyd, David W. Bapst
Fossil data are crucial to correct estimation of phylogeny and divergence times. However, most traditional methods artificially separate the analysis of fossil relationships and divergence time analysis. For example, it is common for paleontologists to estimate the topological position of fossils using cladistic or Bayesian methods, either in a morphologyonly or “total evidence” analysis. This tree, which is undated, may then be used by molecular biologists to supply calibration distributions for dating a moleculesonly tree of living taxa. Such trees form the starting point for various comparative methods which require dated phylogenies, e.g., modelbased
ancestral state analyses, diversification analyses, historical biogeography.
Such procedures “throw away” most of the fossil data, treating paleontology as merely a source of calibration points for molecular analyses, and separate the questions of estimating relationships and dating, when in fact they may be linked. However, increasing collaboration between paleontologists, biologists, statisticians and computer scientists has been fruitful in yielding new technologies and techniques that attempt to combine fossil and living morphology, fossil dates, and molecular data in joint analyses. This symposium will be devoted to reviewing, discussing, and critiquing new methods and models for estimating phylogenetic trees and for
incorporating fossils in the derivation of divergence times.
Ecometrics: quantitative trait-based approaches to biotic change
Co-Convenors: Jussi T. Eronen, P. David Polly, A. Michelle Lawing
Ecometrics is the quantitative study of responses of organisms to ecological change based on the traits
with which they interact with their environment. Traits are key features in locomotion, diet, thermoregulation, and species interactions, all of which influence where species can live and under what
conditions. As environments, climates, and ecosystems change, the response of organisms is mediated
through traits. Furthermore, traits whose functional relationship with the environment depends on general
physical or physiological principles are key for taxon-free comparisons across time and space.
Vertebrate paleontologists are natural leaders in trait-based research because many key functional traits
are found in the skeleton and teeth, are commonly preserved in the fossil record, and have functional and
phylogenetic contexts are familiar to paleontologists. This symposium will feature key ecometric
research vertebrate paleontologists to raise awareness of the questions and techniques in our own
research community, and it will bring in a selected group of non-paleontological trait-based researchers to
promote cross-disciplinary interactions
The influence of R. McNeill Alexander on paleobiological inferences
Co-Convenors: John R. Hutchinson, Eric Snively, Andreas Christian
Professor R. McNeill Alexander is a world-renowned pioneer in biomechanics, especially in theoretical
models and quantitative analyses of form and function (e.g. scaling of musculoskeletal mechanics). From the
1970s into the 1990s, he applied his new ideas about biomechanics and physiology to extinct animals,
starting with a heavily-cited 1976 paper in Nature on estimating dinosaur speeds from fossil trackways, and
then (for example) turning to consider the body masses, centres of mass and bony “strength indicators” of
fossil vertebrates. Alexander lucidly communicated his approaches in “The Dynamics of Dinosaurs and
Other Extinct Giants”, a 1989 popular book which, almost uniquely, is still cited alongside the primary cited
literature. That book, in particular amongst his work, is remarkably accessible in its communication of
complex quantitative methods and data, which arguably has enhanced its impact on palaeontologists.
Alexander’s other influences on palaeobiology include highly regarded reviews of jaw/feeding mechanics in
fossil vertebrates (influencing the future application of finite element analysis to palaeontology),
considerations of digestion and other aspects of metabolism, analysis of vertebral joint mechanics, and much
more. Additionally, he conducted pioneering analyses of allometric scaling patterns in extant (and extinct;
e.g. the moa) animals that continue to be cited today as valuable datasets with influential conclusions, by a
wide array of studies including paleontology—arguably, he helped compel palaeontologists to contribute
more new data on extant animals via studies like these.
SVP Program Committee
If you have questions regarding the program, your presentation or abstract, check the SVP website or contact the SVP Program Co-Chairs:
Jonathan Bloch, Co-Chair
Florida Museum of Natural History
Gainesville, FL, USA
Anjali Goswami, Co-Chair
University College London
Heather Ahrens Matt Lamanna
Johns Hopkins, USA Carnegie Museum of Natural History, USA
Brian Beatty Josh Miller
New York College of Osteopath Medicine, USA University of Cincinnati, USA
Chris Brochu Kevin Padian
University of Iowa, USA Univeristy of California, Berkeley, USA
Richard Butler Lauren Sallan
University of Burmingham, UK University of Michigan, USA
Ted Daeschler William Sanders
Academy of Natural Sciences, USA University of Michigan, USA
Dave Evans Bruce Shockey
Royal Ontario Musuem, Canada American Museum of Natural History, USA
David Fox Mary Silcox
University of Minnesota, USA University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada
Pat Holroyd Michelle Stocker
University of California, Berkeley, USA Virginia Polytechnic Institute, USA
Marc Jones Rebecca Terry
The University of Adelaide, Australia Oregon State University, USA
Christian Kammerer Aaron Wood
Museum Für Naturkunde, Germany Florida Museum of Natural History, USA
For further information please contact the SVP Meeting Management office at firstname.lastname@example.org.