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The Origin of Jawed Vertebrates and the Evolution of Morphology in Deep Time

Objective

Jawed vertebrates account for more than 99% of modern vertebrate diversity. Collectively, they comprise chondrichthyans (sharks, rays, and chimaeras) and osteichthyans (bony fishes and terrestrial vertebrates, including humans). The anatomy of jawed vertebrates includes a series of complex traits such as jaws, teeth, paired appendages, and novel skeletal tissues such as bone. In spite of the intensive investigation of jawed vertebrate evolution in comparative morphology and molecular developmental evolution, the origin and early diversification of this important group remains mysterious. This project seeks to inject a large body of fresh data into the problem of early jawed vertebrate origins and evolution and develop modernized tools for morphological phylogenetics. We will use an integration of expeditionary fieldwork, modern digital imaging technology, and newly developed numerical methods in phylogenetics to address the problems of early jawed vertebrate origins. The work will focus on the morphology and relationships of fossil jawed vertebrates from the Palaeozoic Era (approx. 540-250 million years ago) which exhibit the earliest evidence of jaws, teeth, and paired appendages. Fieldwork in Mongolia will deliver new taxonomic and morphological data from poorly explored regions and attack a major geographic bias in existing fossil archives. The project will exploit computed tomography scanning to analyze existing fossil archives of extract species. This work will provide a detailed scheme of phylogenetic relationships inferring the relationships of early fossil forms to modern jawed vertebrate lineages and document the evolutionary assembly of complex morphological traits of jawed vertebrates. These results will yield refined timelines for jawed vertebrate evolution that can help calibrate molecular clock studies and deliver a rich comparative framework for evolutionary morphological and developmental studies.
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Principal Investigator

Martin Daniel Brazeau (Dr.)

Host institution

IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE

Address

South Kensington Campus Exhibition Road
Sw7 2az London

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 255 846,42

Principal Investigator

Martin Daniel Brazeau (Dr.)

Administrative Contact

Brooke Alasya (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (2)

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IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 1 255 846,42

STICHTING NATURALIS BIODIVERSITY CENTER

Netherlands

EU Contribution

€ 145 973,58

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 311092

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 January 2013

  • End date

    31 December 2018

Funded under:

FP7-IDEAS-ERC

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 401 820

  • EU contribution

    € 1 401 820

Hosted by:

IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE

United Kingdom