This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Amniotes (from Greek ἀμνίον amnion, "membrane surrounding the fetus", earlier "bowl in which the blood of sacrificed animals was caught", from ἀμνός amnos, "lamb") are a clade of tetrapod vertebrates comprising the reptiles (including dinosaurs and therefore birds) and mammals. Amniotes lay their eggs on land or retain the fertilized egg within the mother, and are distinguished from the anamniotes (fishes and amphibians), which typically lay their eggs in water. Older sources, particularly prior to the 20th century, may refer to amniotes as "higher vertebrates" and anamniotes as "lower vertebrates", based on the discredited idea of the evolutionary great chain of being.
|Example of amniotes: Vulpes vulpes and Dimetrodon grandis (two synapsids) & Haliaeetus leucocephalus and a Dermochelys coriacea (two sauropsids).|
Amniotes are tetrapods (descendants of four-limbed and backboned animals) that are characterised by having an egg equipped with an amnion, an adaptation to lay eggs on land rather than in water as the anamniotes (including frogs) typically do. Amniotes include synapsids (mammals along with their extinct kin) and sauropsids (reptiles and birds), as well as their ancestors, back to amphibians. Amniote embryos, whether laid as eggs or carried by the female, are protected and aided by several extensive membranes. In eutherian mammals (such as humans), these membranes include the amniotic sac that surrounds the fetus. These embryonic membranes and the lack of a larval stage distinguish amniotes from tetrapod amphibians.
The first amniotes, referred to as "basal amniotes", resembled small lizards and evolved from the amphibian reptiliomorphs about 312 million years ago, in the Carboniferous geologic period. Their eggs could survive out of the water, allowing amniotes to branch out into drier environments. The eggs could also "breathe" and cope with wastes, allowing the eggs and the amniotes themselves to evolve into larger forms.
The amniotic egg represents a critical divergence within the vertebrates, one enabling amniotes to reproduce on dry land—free of the need to return to water for reproduction as required of the amphibians. From this point the amniotes spread around the globe, eventually to become the dominant land vertebrates. Very early in their evolutionary history, basal amniotes diverged into two main lines, the synapsids and the sauropsids, both of which persist into the modern era. The oldest known fossil synapsid is Protoclepsydrops from about 312 million years ago, while the oldest known sauropsid is probably Paleothyris, in the order Captorhinida, from the Middle Pennsylvanian epoch (c. 306–312 million years ago).
Zoologists characterize amniotes in part by embryonic development that includes the formation of several extensive membranes, the amnion, chorion, and allantois. Amniotes develop directly into a (typically) terrestrial form with limbs and a thick stratified epithelium (rather than first entering a feeding larval tadpole stage followed by metamorphosis, as amphibians do). In amniotes, the transition from a two-layered periderm to a cornified epithelium is triggered by thyroid hormone during embryonic development, rather than by metamorphosis. The unique embryonic features of amniotes may reflect specializations for eggs to survive drier environments; or the increase in size and yolk content of eggs may have permitted, and coevolved with, direct development of the embryo to a large size.
Adaptions for terrestrial livingEdit
Features of amniotes evolved for survival on land include a sturdy but porous leathery or hard eggshell and an allantois that facilitates respiration while providing a reservoir for disposal of wastes. Their kidneys and large intestines are also well-suited to water retention. Most mammals do not lay eggs, but corresponding structures develop inside the placenta.
The ancestors of true amniotes, such as Casineria kiddi, which lived about 340 million years ago, evolved from amphibian reptiliomorphs and resembled small lizards. At the late Devonian mass extinction (360 million years ago), all known tetrapods were essentially aquatic and fish-like. Because the reptiliomorphs were already established 20 million years later when all their fishlike relatives were extinct, it appears they separated from the other tetrapods somewhere during Romer's gap, when the adult tetrapods became fully terrestrial (some forms would later become secondarily aquatic). The modest-sized ancestors of the amniotes laid their eggs in moist places, such as depressions under fallen logs or other suitable places in the Carboniferous swamps and forests; and dry conditions probably do not account for the emergence of the soft shell. Indeed, many modern-day amniotes require moisture to keep their eggs from desiccating. Although some modern amphibians lay eggs on land, all amphibians lack advanced traits like an amnion. The amniotic egg formed through a series of evolutionary steps. After internal fertilization and the habit of laying eggs in terrestrial environments became a reproduction strategy amongst the amniote ancestors, the next major breakthrough appears to have involved a gradual replacement of the gelatinous coating covering the amphibian egg with a fibrous shell membrane. This allowed the egg to increase both its size and in the rate of gas exchange, permitting a larger, metabolically more active embryo to reach full development before hatching. Further developments, like extraembryonic membranes (amnion, chorion, and allantois) and a calcified shell, were not essential and probably evolved later. It has been suggested that shelled terrestrial eggs without extraembryonic membranes could still not have been more than about 1 cm (0.4 inch) in diameter because of diffusion problems, like the inability to get rid of carbon dioxide if the egg was larger. The combination of small eggs and the absence of a larval stage, where posthatching growth occurs in anamniotic tetrapods before turning into juveniles, would limit the size of the adults. This is supported by the fact that extant squamate species that lay eggs less than 1 cm in diameter have adults whose snout-vent length is less than 10 cm. The only way for the eggs to increase in size would be to develop new internal structures specialized for respiration and for waste products. As this happened, it would also affect how much the juveniles could grow before they reached adulthood.
The egg membranesEdit
Fish and amphibian eggs have only one inner membrane, the embryonic membrane. Evolution of the amniote egg required increased exchange of gases and wastes between the embryo and the atmosphere. Structures to permit these traits allowed further adaption that increased the feasible size of amniote eggs and enabled breeding in progressively drier habitats. The increased size of eggs permitted increase in size of offspring and consequently of adults. Further growth for the latter, however, was limited by their position in the terrestrial food-chain, which was restricted to level three and below, with only invertebrates occupying level two. Amniotes would eventually experience adaptive radiations when some species evolved the ability to digest plants and new ecological niches opened up, permitting larger body-size for herbivores, omnivores and predators.
While the early amniotes resembled their amphibian ancestors in many respects, a key difference was the lack of an otic notch at the back margin of the skull roof. In their ancestors, this notch held a spiracle, an unnecessary structure in an animal without an aquatic larval stage. There are three main lines of amniotes, which may be distinguished by the structure of the skull and in particular the number of temporal fenestrae (openings) behind each eye. In anapsids, the ancestral condition, there are none, in synapsids (mammals and their extinct relatives) there is one, and most diapsids (including birds, crocodilians, squamates, and tuataras), have two. Turtles were traditionally classified as anapsids because they lack fenestrae, but molecular testing firmly places them in the diapsid line of descent - they therefore secondarily lost their fenestrae.
Post-cranial remains of amniotes can be identified from their Labyrinthodont ancestors by their having at least two pairs of sacral ribs, a sternum in the pectoral girdle (some amniotes have lost it) and an astragalus bone in the ankle.
Definition and classificationEdit
Amniota was first formally described by the embryologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866 on the presence of the amnion, hence the name. A problem with this definition is that the trait (apomorphy) in question does not fossilize, and the status of fossil forms has to be inferred from other traits.
- Class Reptilia (reptiles)
- Class Aves (birds)
- Subclass Archaeornithes (reptile-like birds, progenitors of all other birds)
- Subclass Enantiornithes (early birds with an alternative shoulder joint)
- Subclass Hesperornithes (toothed aquatic flightless birds)
- Subclass Ichthyornithes (toothed, but otherwise modern birds)
- Subclass Neornithes (all living birds)
- Class Mammalia (mammals)
This rather orderly scheme is the one most commonly found in popular and basic scientific works. It has come under critique from cladistics, as the class Reptilia is paraphyletic—it has given rise to two other classes not included in Reptilia.
Classification into monophyletic taxaEdit
- Series Amniota
- Class Synapsida
- Class Reptilia
- Subclass Parareptilia
- Subclass Eureptilia
- Family Captorhinidae †
- Infraclass Diapsida
- Family Araeoscelididae †
- Family Weigeltisauridae †
- Order Younginiformes †
- Infraclass Neodiapsida
- Order Testudinata
- Suborder Testudines – turtles
- Infraclass Lepidosauromorpha
- Unnamed infrasubclass
- Infrasubclass Sauropterygia †
- Infraclass Archosauromorpha
- Family Trilophosauridae †
- Order Rhynchosauria †
- Order Protorosauria †
- Division Archosauriformes
- Subdivision Archosauria
- Infradivision Crurotarsi
- Infradivision Avemetatarsalia
- Subdivision Archosauria
- Order Testudinata
With the advent of cladistics, other researchers have attempted to establish new classes, based on phylogeny, but disregarding the physiological and anatomical unity of the groups. Unlike Benton, for example, Jacques Gauthier and colleagues forwarded a definition of Amniota in 1988 as "the most recent common ancestor of extant mammals and reptiles, and all its descendants". As Gauthier makes use of a crown group definition, Amniota has a slightly different content than the biological amniotes as defined by an apomorphy.
The cladogram presented here illustrates the phylogeny (family tree) of amniotes, and follows a simplified version of the relationships found by Laurin & Reisz (1995). The cladogram covers the group as defined under Gauthier's definition.
The inclusion of Testudines within Parareptilia is unsupported by more recent morphological phylogenetic studies, which placed turtles firmly within diapsids. All molecular studies have also strongly upheld the placement of turtles within diapsids. Within diapsids, some place turtles within Archosauria, or, more commonly, as a sister group to extant archosaurs, though an analysis conducted by Lyson et al. (2012) recovered turtles as the sister group of lepidosaurs instead.
- Jason D. Pardo; Matt Szostakiwskyj; Per E. Ahlberg; Jason S. Anderson (2017). "Hidden morphological diversity among early tetrapods". Nature. 546 (7660): 642–645. Bibcode:2017Natur.546..642P. doi:10.1038/nature22966. PMID 28636600. S2CID 2478132.
- Arjan Mann; Jason D. Pardo; Hillary C. Maddin (2019). "Infernovenator steenae, a new serpentine recumbirostran from the 'Mazon Creek' Lagertätte further clarifies lysorophian origins". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 187 (2): 506–517. doi:10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz026.
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Benton, Michael J. (1997). Vertebrate Palaeontology. London: Chapman & Hall. pp. 105–109. ISBN 978-0-412-73810-4.
- Benton, M.J.; Donoghue, P.C.J. (2006). "Palaeontological evidence to date the tree of life". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 24 (1): 26–53. doi:10.1093/molbev/msl150. PMID 17047029.
- Alexander M. Schreiber; Donald D. Brown (2003). "Tadpole skin dies autonomously in response to thyroid hormone at metamorphosis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 100 (4): 1769–1774. doi:10.1073/pnas.252774999. PMC 149908. PMID 12560472.
- "the_mid_palaeozoic_biotic_crisis - Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton - University of Southampton".
- Stewart J. R. (1997): Morphology and evolution of the egg of oviparous amniotes. In: S. Sumida and K. Martin (ed.) Amniote Origins-Completing the Transition to Land (1): 291–326. London: Academic Press.
- Cunningham, B.; Huene, E. (Jul–Aug 1938). "Further Studies on Water Absorption by Reptile Eggs". The American Naturalist. 72 (741): 380–385. doi:10.1086/280791. JSTOR 2457547. S2CID 84258651.
- Shell Game » American Scientist
- Michel Laurin (2004). "The evolution of body size, Cope's rule and the origin of amniotes". Systematic Biology. 53 (4): 594–622. doi:10.1080/10635150490445706. PMID 15371249.
- Lombard, R. E. & Bolt, J. R. (1979): Evolution of the tetrapod ear: an analysis and reinterpretation. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society No 11: pp 19–76 Abstract
- Gauthier, J., Kluge, A.G. and Rowe, T. (1988). "The early evolution of the Amniota." Pp. 103–155 in Benton, M.J. (ed.), The phylogeny and classification of the tetrapods, Volume 1: amphibians, reptiles, birds. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Falcon-Lang, H J; Benton, M J; Stimson, M (2007). "Ecology of early reptiles inferred from Lower Pennsylvanian trackways". Journal of the Geological Society. 164 (6): 1113–1118. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.06.020.
- Romer A S and Parsons T S (1985) The Vertebrate Body. (6th ed.) Saunders, Philadelphia.
- Carroll, R. L. (1988), Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, WH Freeman & Co.
- Hildebrand, M. & G. E. Goslow, Jr. Principal ill. Viola Hildebrand. (2001). Analysis of vertebrate structure. New York: Wiley. p. 429. ISBN 978-0-471-29505-1.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Colbert, E.H. & Morales, M. (2001): Colbert's Evolution of the Vertebrates: A History of the Backboned Animals Through Time. 4th edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York — ISBN 978-0-471-38461-8.
- Reeder, Tod W.; Townsend, Ted M.; Mulcahy, Daniel G.; Noonan, Brice P.; Wood, Perry L.; Sites, Jack W.; Wiens, John J. (2015). "Integrated Analyses Resolve Conflicts over Squamate Reptile Phylogeny and Reveal Unexpected Placements for Fossil Taxa". PLOS ONE. 10 (3): e0118199. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1018199R. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118199. PMC 4372529. PMID 25803280.
- *Hope, S. (2002) The Mesozoic record of Neornithes (modern birds). In: Chiappe, L.M. and Witmer, L.M. (eds.): Mesozoic Birds: Above the Heads of Dinosaurs: 339–388. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-20094-2
- Benton, M.J. (2015). "Appendix: Classification of the Vertebrates". Vertebrate Paleontology (4th ed.). Wiley Blackwell. 433–447. ISBN 978-1-118-40684-7.
- Lee, M.S.Y. & Spencer, P.S. (1997): Crown clades, key characters and taxonomic stability: when is an amniote not an amniote? In: Sumida S.S. & Martin K.L.M. (eds.) Amniote Origins: completing the transition to land. Academic Press, pp 61–84. Google books
- Laurin, M.; Reisz, R.R. (1995). "A reevaluation of early amniote phylogeny" (PDF). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 113 (2): 165–223. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1995.tb00932.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-06-08. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
- Rieppel, O.; DeBraga, M. (1996). "Turtles as diapsid reptiles". Nature. 384 (6608): 453–5. Bibcode:1996Natur.384..453R. doi:10.1038/384453a0. S2CID 4264378.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Müller, Johannes (2004). "The relationships among diapsid reptiles and the influence of taxon selection". In Arratia, G; Wilson, M.V.H.; Cloutier, R. (eds.). Recent Advances in the Origin and Early Radiation of Vertebrates. Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil. pp. 379–408. ISBN 978-3-89937-052-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Mannen, Hideyuki; Li, Steven S. -L. (Oct 1999). "Molecular evidence for a clade of turtles". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 13 (1): 144–148. doi:10.1006/mpev.1999.0640. PMID 10508547.
- Zardoya, R.; Meyer, A. (1998). "Complete mitochondrial genome suggests diapsid affinities of turtles". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 95 (24): 14226–14231. Bibcode:1998PNAS...9514226Z. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.24.14226. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 24355. PMID 9826682.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Iwabe, N.; Hara, Y.; Kumazawa, Y.; Shibamoto, K.; Saito, Y.; Miyata, T.; Katoh, K. (2004-12-29). "Sister group relationship of turtles to the bird-crocodilian clade revealed by nuclear DNA-coded proteins". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 22 (4): 810–813. doi:10.1093/molbev/msi075. PMID 15625185.
- Roos, Jonas; Aggarwal, Ramesh K.; Janke, Axel (Nov 2007). "Extended mitogenomic phylogenetic analyses yield new insight into crocodylian evolution and their survival of the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 45 (2): 663–673. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.06.018. PMID 17719245.
- Katsu, Y.; Braun, E. L.; Guillette, L. J. Jr.; Iguchi, T. (2010-03-17). "From reptilian phylogenomics to reptilian genomes: analyses of c-Jun and DJ-1 proto-oncogenes". Cytogenetic and Genome Research. 127 (2–4): 79–93. doi:10.1159/000297715. PMID 20234127. S2CID 12116018.
- Tyler R. Lyson; Erik A. Sperling; Alysha M. Heimberg; Jacques A. Gauthier; Benjamin L. King; Kevin J. Peterson (2012-02-23). "MicroRNAs support a turtle + lizard clade". Biology Letters. 8 (1): 104–107. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0477. PMC 3259949. PMID 21775315.