Darren Naish

Darren Naish
University of Southampton · Centre for Biological Sciences

B.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D.

About

160
Publications
84,365
Reads
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Introduction
Affiliated with the University of Southampton, I have special interests in Lower Cretaceous theropods, azhdarchid pterosaurs, parvipelvian ichthyosaurs, and the biology and behaviour of fossil archosaurs. Current projects concern azhdarchoid pterosaur evolution, anatomy and palaeobiology, ichthyosaur survival across the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary, and the evolution and role of display structures. I blog about these subjects (and others) at Tetrapod Zoology (now at tetzoo.com). I am currently working on a giant volume (over 1200 pp) titled THE VERTEBRATE FOSSIL RECORD.
Additional affiliations
August 2012 - August 2013
University of Southampton
Position
  • Research Assistant
January 2012 - October 2012
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Position
  • Research Assistant
September 1999 - September 2007
University of Portsmouth
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (160)
Article
Full-text available
Eotyrannus lengi Hutt et al., 2001 from the Lower Cretaceous Wessex Formation (part of the Wealden Supergroup) of the Isle of Wight, southern England, is described in detail, compared with other theropods, and evaluated in a new phylogenetic analysis. Eotyrannus is represented by a single individual that would have been c. 4.5 m long; it preserves...
Article
Full-text available
Postcranial elements (cervical, sacral and caudal vertebrae, as well as ilium, rib and limb bone fragments) belonging to a gigantic tetanuran theropod were recovered from the basal unit (the White Rock Sandstone equivalent) of the Vectis Formation near Compton Chine, on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight. These remains appear to pertain to th...
Article
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Spinosaurids are among the most distinctive and yet poorly-known of large-bodied theropod dinosaurs, a situation exacerbated by their mostly fragmentary fossil record and competing views regarding their palaeobiology. Here, we report two new Early Cretaceous spinosaurid specimens from the Wessex Formation (Barremian) of the Isle of Wight. Large-sca...
Article
The name “Cetartiodactyla” was proposed in 1997 to reflect the molecular data that suggested that Cetacea is closely related to Artiodactyla. Since then, that taxon has spread in popularity, even outside the scientific literature. However, the implications of the name are confusing, because Cetacea and Artiodactyla are not sister-taxa. Instead, the...
Article
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Competing views exist on the behaviour and lifestyle of pterosaurs during the earliest phases of life. A ‘flap-early’ model proposes that hatchlings were capable of independent life and flapping flight, a ‘fly-late’ model posits that juveniles were not flight capable until 50% of adult size, and a ‘glide-early’ model requires that young juveniles w...
Article
It takes a bold, innovative mind to publish an exercise in speculative evolution pertaining to an alternative timeline. Dale Russell’s studies of the troodontid Stenonychosaurus and of ornithomimid theropods, published in 1969 and 1972, inspired him to consider the possibility that some theropod dinosaur lineages might have given rise to big-braine...
Article
Full-text available
A series of axial elements from the Aptian Ferrug-inous Sands Formation of the Lower Greensand Group, discovered on the foreshore near Knock Cliff on the Isle of Wight, UK are (bar some isolated teeth and fragmentary post-cranial material from the Cenomanian Cambridge Greensand) the youngest non-avian theropod remains reported from the British Meso...
Article
Many extant invertebrate and vertebrate taxa possess osteological, keratinous, or chitinous structures that are photoluminescent: that is, variably coloured and patterned when observed under ultraviolet light. These features are frequently associated with inter- and/or intraspecific display. Among terrestrial vertebrates, keratinous photoluminescen...
Article
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Here we test the hypothesis, first suggested by L. Sprague De Camp in 1968, that “After Mesozoic reptiles became well-known, reports of sea serpents, which until then had tended towards the serpentine, began to describe the monster as more and more resembling a Mesozoic marine reptile like a plesiosaur or a mosasaur.” This statement generates a num...
Article
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A Late Cretaceous-aged multi-taxon nesting site from Romania preserved in three dimensions reveals the earliest example of nest site sharing yet known from the vertebrate fossil record. Eggshell and osteological evidence combined in this single accumulation demonstrate that at least four vertebrate taxa including enantiornithine birds and another a...
Preprint
The ichthyosaur fossil record is interspersed by several hiatuses, notably during the Cretaceous. This hampers our understanding of the evolution and extinction of this group of marine reptiles during the last 50 million years of its history. Several Cretaceous ichthyosaur taxa named in the past have subsequently been dismissed and re- ferred to th...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cretaceous ichthyosaurs have typically been considered a small, homo- geneous assemblage sharing a common Late Jurassic ancestor. Their low diversity and disparity have been interpreted as indicative of a decline lead- ing to their Cenomanian extinction. We describe the first post-Triassic ichthyosaur from the Middle East, Malawania anachronus gen....
Article
The postcranial palaeoneurology of fossil reptiles is understudied, and those studies that exist focus predominantly on crocodyliforms and dinosaurs. The intervertebral foramina of the spine house nerves that exit to innervate surrounding tissues and the extremities. In the heavily fused (and typically distorted or poorly preserved) pterosaurian sa...
Article
The postcranial palaeoneurology of fossil reptiles is understudied, and those studies that exist focus predominantly on crocodyliforms and dinosaurs. The intervertebral foramina of the spine house nerves that exit to innervate surrounding tissues and the extremities. In the heavily fused (and typically distorted or poorly preserved) pterosaurian sa...
Article
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Conference Paper
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Estudios paleontológicos recientes han incrementado no sólo el número de taxa de ictiosaurios, sino también el conocimiento sobre su disparidad ecomorfológica, distribución latitudinal y el rango de tamaño del grupo. Uno de los más diversos y dispersos grupos es Ophthalmosauridae, un clado Jurásico y Cretácico de ictiosaurios parvipelvianos que se...
Preprint
A marine tethysuchian crocodyliform from the Isle of Wight, most likely from the Upper Greensand Formation (late Albian, Early Cretaceous), is described. However, we cannot preclude it being from the Ferruginous Sands Formation (late Aptian), or more remotely, the Sandrock Formation (late Aptian-early Albian). The specimen consists of the anterior...
Preprint
Full-text available
Pterosaur embryos and ‘hatchling’ specimens show a surprising level of skeletal development including well-ossified skeletons and large wings. This has prompted interpretations of pterosaurs as being flight-capable from the earliest ontogenetic stages, contrasting them against the majority of other flying animals, living or extinct. Though popular,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Pterosaur embryos and ‘hatchling’ specimens show a surprising level of skeletal development including well-ossified skeletons and large wings. This has prompted interpretations of pterosaurs as being flight-capable from the earliest ontogenetic stages, contrasting them against the majority of other flying animals, living or extinct. Though popular,...
Article
The extinct ocean-going plesiosaurs were unique within vertebrates because they used two flipper pairs identical in morphology for propulsion. Although fossils of these Mesozoic marine reptiles have been known for more than two centuries, the function and dynamics of their tandem-flipper propulsion system has always been unclear and controversial....
Preprint
Full-text available
The vastness of the vertebrate fossil record and its literature makes any effort to review it in entirety a difficult task; ‘a review’ is understood to be a work that discusses the evolution and diversity of a group, drawing in knowledge on taxonomy, morphology, ecology and distribution, with representative illustrations. Existing reviews of the en...
Preprint
Full-text available
The vastness of the vertebrate fossil record and its literature makes any effort to review it in entirety a difficult task; ‘a review’ is understood to be a work that discusses the evolution and diversity of a group, drawing in knowledge on taxonomy, morphology, ecology and distribution, with representative illustrations. Existing reviews of the en...
Article
Full-text available
The discovery of large, complex, internal canals within the rostra of fossil reptiles has been linked with an enhanced tactile function utilised in an aquatic context, so far in pliosaurids, the Cretaceous theropod Spinosaurus, and the related spinosaurid Baryonyx. Here, we report the presence of a complex network of large, laterally situated, anas...
Article
Full-text available
Azhdarchid pterosaurs include the largest animals to ever take to the skies with some species exceeding 10 metres in wingspan and 220 kg in mass. Associated skeletons show that azhdarchids were long-necked, long-jawed predators that combined a wing planform suited for soaring with limb adaptations indicative of quadrupedal terrestrial foraging. The...
Article
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Ankylosaurs (Dinosauria, Ankylosauria) have been known from the Lower Cretaceous English Wealden for over 170 years. Three Wealden ankylosaurian species are currently recognised: Hylaeosaurus armatus and Polacanthus rudgwickensis from the Wealden Sub-basin of Sussex, and Polacanthus foxii from both the Wessex Sub-basin of the Isle of Wight and the...
Article
Full-text available
Ankylosaurs (Dinosauria, Ankylosauria) have been known from the Lower Cretaceous English Wealden for over 170 years. Three Wealden ankylosaurian species are currently recognised: Hylaeosaurus armatus and Polacanthus rudgwickensis from the Wealden Sub-basin of Sussex, and Polacanthus foxii from both the Wessex Sub-basin of the Isle of Wight and the...
Article
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The apatosaurine sauropods — Apatosaurus , Brontosaurus and possibly others — resemble their diplodocine relatives, but are generally more robust. Apatosaur necks are much thicker than in other sauropods: cervical ribs and their supports are uniquely robust, and the ribs are strongly displaced ventrally. The diapophyseal and parapophyseal rami ther...
Article
Full-text available
The apatosaurine sauropods — Apatosaurus , Brontosaurus and possibly others — resemble their diplodocine relatives, but are generally more robust. Apatosaur necks are much thicker than in other sauropods: cervical ribs and their supports are uniquely robust, and the ribs are strongly displaced ventrally. The diapophyseal and parapophyseal rami ther...
Article
The latest Cretaceous continental vertebrate faunas of the wider Transylvanian area figured prominently in discussions concerning the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary (K-Pg) events when they were first described by Nopcsa between 1897 and 1929, because they were assumed to be late Maastrichtian in age. Subsequently their age was reconsidered as early...
Article
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The exceptionally well-preserved Romanian dinosaur Balaur bondoc is the most complete theropod known to date from the Upper Cretaceous of Europe. Previous studies of this remarkable taxon have included its phylogenetic interpretation as an aberrant dromaeosaurid with velociraptorine affinities. However, Balaur displays a combination of both apparen...
Article
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We describe a pterosaurian cervical vertebra collected from Maastrichtian sediments at the Pui locality in the Haţeg Basin, Romania. This specimen, a medium-sized, robust fourth cervical, is distinctive in morphology and represents a new, as yet unrecognized, azhdarchid pterosaur size class within the Haţeg Island fauna: it most likely belongs to a...
Article
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Cassowaries (Casuarius) possess a cranial casque, sheathed by keratin and composed of modified cranial bones. We combine data and hypotheses on three areas of cassowary research. First, we present novel observations on casque anatomy. The bony core is fragile, incorporating a mass of trabeculae anteriorly and an empty space posteriorly. Secondly, w...
Article
Full-text available
A marine tethysuchian crocodyliform from the Isle of Wight, most likely from the Upper Greensand Formation (upper Albian, Lower Cretaceous), is described. However, we cannot preclude it being from the Ferruginous Sands Formation (upper Aptian), or more remotely, the Sandrock Formation (upper Aptian-upper Albian). The specimen consists of the anteri...
Article
Full-text available
The discipline of palaeoart, a branch of natural history art dedicated to the reconstruction of extinct life, is an established and important component of palaeontological science and outreach. For more than 200 years, palaeoartistry has worked closely with palaeontological science and has always been integral to the enduring popularity of prehisto...
Article
In a recent Gondwana Research article Grellet-Tinner and Codrea (in press) (hereafter “GTC”) describe a single bone (UBB ODA-28, collections of Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania) from the Upper Cretaceous Şard Formation (=middle section of the Sebeş Formation) (Transylvanian Basin, Romania) as a pterosaur premaxillary cranial crest. The...
Article
The ichthyosaur fossil record is interspersed by several hiatuses, notably during the Cretaceous. This hampers our understanding of the evolution and extinction of this group of marine reptiles during the last 50 million years of its history. Several Cretaceous ichthyosaur taxa named in the past have subsequently been dismissed and referred to the...
Article
Full-text available
Recent discoveries have highlighted the dramatic evolutionary transformation of massive, ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs into light, volant birds. Here, we apply Bayesian approaches (originally developed for inferring geographic spread and rates of molecular evolution in viruses) in a different context: to infer size changes and rates of anatomi...
Article
Between the Middle Jurassic and Holocene, birds evolved an enormous diversity of behaviours. The distribution and antiquity of these behaviours is difficult to establish given a relatively poor fossil record. Rare crop, stomach and gut contents typically reveal diets consistent with morphology but stem‐members of some lineages (including Cariamae a...
Article
Full-text available
Two big cat skulls procured from hunters of Yanachaga National Park, Peru, were reported as those of cats informally dubbed the 'striped tiger' and 'anomalous jaguar'. Observations suggested that both skulls were distinct from those of jaguars, associated descriptions of integument did not conform to this species, and it has been implied that both...
Article
The Transylvanian region of Romania preserves some of the most unusual and iconic dinosaurs in the global fossil record, including dwarfed herbivores and aberrant carnivores that lived during the very latest Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) in an ancient island ecosystem (the Hat¸ eg Island). A series of artificial outcrops recently exposed during a hydr...
Article
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Birds are among the most diverse and intensivelystudied vertebrate groups, but many aspects of theirhigher-level phylogeny and evolution still remaincontroversial. One contentious issue concerns theantiquity of modern birds (=crown Aves): the ageof the most recent common ancestor of all livingbirds (Gauthier 1986). Very few Mesozoic fossilsare attr...
Article
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Since 2010 the Transylvanian Museum Society (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), the “Ioan Raica” Municipal Museum (Sebeş, Romania), the University of Bucharest (Romania), the American Museum of Natural History (New York, USA), and the University of Southampton (UK) have collaborated on a project focused on the vertebrate paleontology and geology of the Late Cr...
Article
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The lifestyles of all pterosaurs are contentious, but those of the pterodactyloid clade Azhdarchidae are particularly debated. A 2008 review of the functional morphology of azhdarchid pterosaurs concluded that they were probably terrestrial foragers, as evidenced by their long limbs, generalised skull construction, the arthrological limitations of...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the aerodynamic performance of feathered, non-avialan dinosaurs is critical to reconstructing the evolution of bird flight. Here we show that the Early Cretaceous five-winged paravian Microraptor is most stable when gliding at high-lift coefficients (low lift/drag ratios). Wind tunnel experiments and flight simulations show that susta...
Article
The hypothesis that the exaggerated structures in various non-avialan dinosaurs (e.g. horns, crests, plates) primarily functioned in species recognition, allowing individuals of a species to recognize one another, is critically examined. While multifunctionality for many such structures is probable given extant analogues, invoking species recogniti...
Article
Full-text available
Cretaceous ichthyosaurs have typically been considered a small, homogeneous assemblage sharing a common Late Jurassic ancestor. Their low diversity and disparity have been interpreted as indicative of a decline leading to their Cenomanian extinction. We describe the first post-Triassic ichthyosaur from the Middle East, Malawania anachronus gen. et...
Article
Full-text available
The alleged presence of non-native felid species in the British countryside – popularly, though in part erroneously, known as ‘British big cats’ or ‘alien big cats’ – is a long-standing and controversial topic, perennially of interest to both the mass media and amateur naturalists, and with little apparent acceptance from the technical zoological c...
Article
In their letter in response to our article in TREE [1], Padian and Horner [2] make three main points, the two most relevant concerning firstly the definition of sexual selection itself and secondly, the issue of how we might test for its presence in fossils organisms. Their third point pertains to species recognition and is addressed by Mendelson a...
Article
Full-text available
Background Pterosaurs have been known from the Cretaceous sediments of the Isle of Wight (southern England, United Kingdom) since 1870. We describe the three-dimensional pelvic girdle and associated vertebrae of a small near-adult pterodactyloid from the Atherfield Clay Formation (lower Aptian, Lower Cretaceous). Despite acknowledged variation in t...
Data
Character codings for Wang et al. (2012) dataset, with the last 23 codings (characters 107–129) referring to the novel characters described in our text. (DOC)
Data
Character codings for pelvis-only analysis. (DOC)
Article
Full-text available
Among the most enigmatic and controversial plesiosaurian clades is the Early Cretaceous Leptocleididae, a small group of (mostly) short-necked taxa with ‘intermediate' or ‘pliosauromorph' body proportions. Leptocleidids have often been interpreted as basal members of Pliosauroidea, and their presence in marginal marine and even freshwater facies ha...