Our ScientistsTakuya Konishi, Ph.D.
Takuya Konishi specializes in the study of mosasaurs, a group of giant, predacious, and paddle-bearing lizards that inhabited the world’s oceans during the Late Cretaceous (about 93 to 65 million years ago). So far, his research has focused on the systematics—a study of classification and evolutionary relationships—of a group of medium-sized mosasaurs called plioplatecarpines, found mostly in the western part of North America. During the Late Cretaceous, a north-south trending stretch of sea, the Western Interior Seaway, covered the area and nurtured a high diversity of marine organisms. Based on the comprehensive systematic work he has conducted on these mosasaurs, Takuya envisages further investigating such aspects of plioplatecarpine mosasaurs as palaeobiology, palaeobiogeography, and palaeobiostratigraphy. In particular, he hopes that he can link some key evolutionary changes that occurred in plioplatecarpines to a wider geographic range that they exhibited towards the end of their evolutionary history. With more than 60 different mosasaur species known today, he also hopes to address these scientific inquiries in other groups of mosasaurs, to answer an ultimate question—“what were mosasaurs?”
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1) Description of a rare giant mosasaur, Prognathodon, from the Bearpaw Formation (late Campanian) of southern Alberta. Not closely related to plioplatecarpine mosasaurs, Prognathodon had a massive skull and attained a gigantic body size. They became evolutionarily highly successful and diversified later in the evolution of mosasaurs during the Maastrichtian (about 70 to 65 million years ago). Despite their high diversity during this latest stage in the Cretaceous, much of their interrelationships and palaeobiology during the Campanian is poorly understood, primarily because of the paucity of well-preserved specimens. In this light, the new, exquisitely-preserved specimen of Prognathodon recently discovered from the upper Campanian strata of southern Alberta is extremely important in shedding light on early diversification and even the origin of this giant mosasaur. With collaboration with both domestic and international researchers, the description of this exciting and important mosasaur specimen is well underway.
2) Description of a new specimen of Ectenosaurus clidastoides from the Smoky Hill Chalk Member of western Kansas, USA. With an extremely elongate snout, Ectenosaurus clidastoides is arguably one of the most aberrant plioplatecarpines, and it is the rarest, so far known only from one specimen housed at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas. This existing specimen includes a complete skull that had provided us with many important anatomical details of this enigmatic plioplatecarpine taxon so far, but because all the skull bones are in articulation with one another, some features—such as inner side of the jaw bones—were not available for observation. In contrast, the newly acquired specimen at the Royal Tyrrell Museum is a semi-articulated specimen, and complements the first specimen by yielding more complete morphological information on some of the isolated skull elements. Upon preliminary observation, the two specimens are also slightly different in certain anatomical details, and he hopes that studying the second specimen will also bring new insight into intraspecific (within a species) variations in Ectenosaurus clidastoides.
3) Palaeobiogeography, functional morphology, and evolution of Plioplatecarpinae Dollo, 1884. This project is inspired by, as well as based upon, the systematic framework that resulted from his dissertation work, where he identified 11 plioplatecarpine species within seven genera, including two newly established genera. When known chronostratigraphic (time) and geographic occurrences of those plioplatecarpine taxa were mapped onto the resultant phylogeny (evolutionary relationships), it became apparent that it wasn’t until the Maastrichtian that they are found on both sides of the Atlantic, and that the very group that inhabited this wide geographic range—Plioplatecarpus—happens to be the most derived among plioplatecarpine mosasaurs. Takuya hypothesizes that plioplatecarpines became increasingly adapted for pelagic lifestyle like modern whales and even dolphins, and investigates functional significance of some of the evolutionary changes that took place in the lineage leading to Plioplatecarpus.
Newbrey, M. G., and T. Konishi. In press. A new lizardfish (Teleostei: Aulopiformes) from the Late Cretaceous Bearpaw Formation of Alberta, Canada with a revised diagnosis of Apateodus (Aulopiformes: Ichthyotringoidei). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Konishi, T., M. G. Newbrey, and M. W. Caldwell. 2014. A small, exquisitely preserved specimen of Mosasaurus missouriensis (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the upper Campanian of the Bearpaw Formation, western Canada, and the first stomach contents for the genus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 34:802-819.
Ohara, M., T. Konishi, A. Misaki, and H. Matsuoka. 2013. The frontiers of mosasaur research in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan [in Japanese]. Journal of Fossil Research 46:15–19.
Konishi, T., J. Lindgren, M. W. Caldwell, and L. Chiappe. 2012. Platecarpus tymaniticus (Squamata: Mosasauridae): osteology of an exceptionally preserved specimen and its insights into the acquisition of a streamlined body shape in mosasaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32:1313–1327.
Sato, T., T. Konishi, R. Hirayama, and M. W. Caldwell. 2012. A review of the Upper Cretaceous marine reptiles from Japan. Cretaceous Research 37:319–340.
Konishi, T. 2012. The northernmost occurrence of Prognathodon (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the Western Interior Seaway of North America. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 49:1111–1115.
Konishi, T., M. Tanimoto, S. Utsunomiya, M. Sato, and K. Watanabe. 2012. A large mosasaurine (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the latest Cretaceous of Osaka Prefecture (SW Japan). Paleontological Research 16:79–87.
Konishi, T., D. Brinkman, J. A. Massare, and M. W. Caldwell. 2011. New exceptional specimens of Prognathodon overtoni (Squamata: Mosaauridae) from the upper Campanian of Alberta. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31:1026–1046.
Konishi, T., and M. W. Caldwell. 2011. Two new plioplatecarpine (Squamata: Mosasauridae) genera from the Upper Cretaceous of North America, and a global phylogenetic analysis of plioplatecarpines. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31:754–783.
Konishi, T., M. W. Caldwell, and G. L. Bell, Jr. 2010. Redescription of the holotype of Platecarpus tympaniticus Cope, 1869 (Mosasauridae: Plioplatecarpinae), and its implications for the alpha taxonomy of the genus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30:1410–1421.
Lindgren, J., M. W. Caldwell, T. Konishi, and L. M. Chiappe. 2010. Convergent evolution in aquatic tetrapods: insights from an exceptional fossil mosasaur. PLoS ONE 5(8): e11998. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011998. (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0011998).
Konishi, T., and M. W. Caldwell. 2009. New material of the mosasaur Plioplatecarpus nichollsae Cuthbertson et al., 2007, clarifies problematic features of the holotype specimen. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29:417–436.
Konishi, T. 2008. A new specimen of Selmasaurus sp., cf. S. russelli (Mosasauridae: Plioplatecarpini) from Greene County, western Alabama, USA; pp. 95–105 in M. J. Everhart (ed.), Proceedings of the Second Mosasaur Meeting. Fort Hays Studies Special Issue 3.
Konishi, T. 2008. Southernmost occurrence of Platecarpus planifrons (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the Tombigbee Sand Member (middle Santonian) of Alabama, USA, and a revised biostratigraphy of the genus; pp. 106–114 in M. J. Everhart (ed.), Proceedings of the Second Mosasaur Meeting. Fort Hays Studies Special Issue 3.
Caldwell, M. W., T. Konishi, I. Obata, and K. Muramoto. 2008. A new species of Taniwhasaurus (Mosasauridae, Tylosaurinae) from the upper Santonian–lower Campanian (Upper Cretaceous) of Hokkaido, Japan. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28:339–348.
Caldwell, M. W. and T. Konishi. 2007. Taxonomic re-assignment of the first known mosasaur specimen from Japan, and a discussion of circum-Pacific mosasaur paleobiogeography. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27:517–520.
Konishi, T. and M. W. Caldwell. 2007. New specimens of Platecarpus planifrons (Cope, 1874) (Squamata: Mosasauridae) and a revised taxonomy of the genus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27:59–72.
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