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Species and Speciation in the Fossil Record$
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Warren D. Allmon and Margaret M. Yacobucci

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226377445

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226377582.001.0001

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Fossil Species Lineages and Their Defining Traits: Taxonomic “Usefulness” and Evolutionary Modes

Fossil Species Lineages and Their Defining Traits: Taxonomic “Usefulness” and Evolutionary Modes

Chapter:
(p.366) Chapter Thirteen Fossil Species Lineages and Their Defining Traits: Taxonomic “Usefulness” and Evolutionary Modes
Source:
Species and Speciation in the Fossil Record
Author(s):

Melanie J. Hopkins

Scott Lidgard

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226377582.003.0014

A primary claim within the theory of punctuated equilibrium is that most fossil species exhibit morphological stasis. However, an often-overlooked critique of the theory is that the morphological species concept in paleontology leads to the conflation of species delimitation with the recognition of stasis. Here, we use a likelihood method to estimate the mode of evolution of 635 morphological traits measured from temporal sequences of fossil samples across eukaryotes. We then compare these estimates with the taxonomic usefulness of each trait as inferred from the systematic literature. Our results indicate that the outcomes of studies analyzing evolutionary mode in the fossil record have been influenced by taxonomic practice, particularly where studies have focused on trait evolution within lineages linking nominate species. We consider a variety of factors—including the use of trends in single traits trends as proxies for species-level trends—that may contribute to this complex relationship.

Keywords:   mode of evolution, stasis, species delimitation, punctuated equilibrium, taxonomy, likelihood, morphological traits

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