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Nat Rev Genet. 2007 Dec;8(12):911-20.

Written in stone: fossils, genes and evo-devo.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47401, USA. raffr@indiana.edu

Abstract

Fossils give evo-devo a past. They inform phylogenetic trees to show the direction of evolution of developmental features, and they can reveal ancient body plans. Fossils also provide the primary data that are used to date past events, including divergence times needed to estimate molecular clocks, which provide rates of developmental evolution. Fossils can set boundaries for hypotheses that are generated from living developmental systems, and for predictions of ancestral development and morphologies. Finally, although fossils rarely yield data on developmental processes directly, informative examples occur of extraordinary preservation of soft body parts, embryos and genomic information.

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