Topology, divergence dates, and macroevolutionary inferences vary between different tip-dating approaches applied to fossil theropods (Dinosauria)
Wright, A. M.
Matzke, N. J.
Lloyd, G. T.
Dated phylogenies of fossil taxa allow palaeobiologists to estimate the timing of major divergences and placement of extinct lineages, and to test macroevolutionary hypotheses. Recently developed Bayesian ‘tip-dating’ methods simultaneously infer and date the branching relationships among fossil taxa, and infer putative ancestral relationships. Using a previously published dataset for extinct theropod dinosaurs, we contrast the dated relationships inferred by several tip-dating approaches and evaluate potential downstream effects on phylogenetic comparative methods. We also compare tip-dating analyses to maximum-parsimony trees time-scaled via alternative a posteriori approaches including via the probabilistic cal3 method. Among tip-dating analyses, we find opposing but stronglysupported relationships, despite similarity in inferred ancestors. Overall, tip-dating methods infer divergence dates often millions (or tens of millions) of years older than the earliest stratigraphic appearance of that clade. Model-comparison analyses of the pattern of body-size evolution found that the support for evolutionary mode can vary across and between treesamples from cal3 and tip-dating approaches. These differences suggest that model and software choice in dating analyses can have a substantial impact on the dated phylogenies obtained and broader evolutionary inferences.
This is a manuscript of an article from Biology Letters 12 (2016): 20160237, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0237. Posted with permission.