VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY

Island life

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Science  01 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 977-978
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6392.977-c

A Cretaceous mammal shows signs of island-related adaptation.

PHOTO: ROB CRANDALL/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Among modern faunas, a well-established phenomenon occurs as species evolve to live on islands. Specifically, many species undergo dwarfism and other related changes after island colonization, likely owing to resource limitation and restriction of landscapes. Csiki-Sava et al. describe a multituberculate mammal from a Cretaceous island in Romania that displays several unusual traits, notably a reduced brain size and domed skull. The authors argue that these changes reflect adaptation to the island habitat of this group and, further, that a small brain (relative to body size) may be a previously undescribed adaptation to insular living.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1801143115 (2018).

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