The evolution of locomotor stamina in tetrapods: circumventing a mechanical constraint.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Endothermic tetrapods differ dramatically from ectothermic tetrapods in having a great capacity to sustain vigorous locomotion. This difference reflects alternative adaptive responses to a mechanical constraint that was an inherent consequence of the vertebrate transition from aquatic to terrestrial modes of locomotion and respiration. The earliest tetrapods may not have been able to walk and breathe at the same time. Their sprawling gait and lateral vertebral bending would have required unilateral contractions of the thoracic musculature that may have interfered with the bilateral movements necessary for breathing. Modern lizards provide support for this hypothesis because their breathing is greatly reduced during locomotor activity. Tetrapod lineages that gave rise to modern ectotherms apparently retained this constraint. The lineages from which birds and mammals are derived have undergone morphological changes that enable simultaneous running and breathing. In modern tetrapods upright posture is correlated with endothermic metabolism. This correlation may have arisen to circimvent ancestral constraints on locomotor stamina.-from Author

LanguageEnglish
Pages326-341
Number of pages16
JournalPaleobiology
Volume13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

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tetrapod
stamens
breathing
Respiration
Locomotion
locomotion
Lizards
chest
gait
posture
Posture
Gait
Running
Birds
Vertebrates
lizards
Mammals
Thorax
lizard
vertebrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Palaeontology
  • Ecology

Cite this

The evolution of locomotor stamina in tetrapods : circumventing a mechanical constraint. / Carrier, D. R.

In: Paleobiology, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1987, p. 326-341.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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