Data matrix from Species richness and disparity of parareptiles across the end-Permian mass extinction
2019-03-14T14:05:20Z (GMT) by
The amniote clade Parareptilia is notable in that members of the clade exhibited a wide array of morphologies, were successful in a variety of ecological niches and survived the end-Permian mass extinction. In order to better understand how mass extinction events can affect clades that survive them, we investigate both the species richness and morphological diversity (disparity) of parareptiles over the course of their history. Furthermore, we examine our observations in the context of other metazoan clades, in order to identify post-extinction survivorship patterns that are present in the clade. The results of our study indicate that there was an early increase in parareptilian disparity, which then fluctuated over the course of the Permian, before it eventually declined sharply towards the end of the Permian and into the Triassic, corresponding with the end-Permian mass extinction event. Interestingly, this is a different trend to what is observed regarding parareptile richness, that shows an almost continuous increase until its overall peak at the end of the Late Permian. Moreover, richness did not experience the same sharp drop at the end of the Permian, reaching a plateau until the Anisian, before dropping sharply and remaining low, with the clade going extinct at the end of the Triassic. This observed pattern is likely due to the fact that, despite the extinction of several morphologically distinct parareptile clades, the procolophonoids, one of the largest parareptilian clades, were diversifying across the Permian–Triassic boundary. With the clade's low levels of disparity and eventually declining species richness, this pattern most resembles a ‘dead clade walking’ pattern.