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Science. 2015 Feb 20;347(6224):867-70. doi: 10.1126/science.1260065.

Animal evolution. Cope's rule in the evolution of marine animals.

Author information

1
Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. naheim@stanford.edu.
2
Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
3
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA 19081, USA.

Abstract

Cope's rule proposes that animal lineages evolve toward larger body size over time. To test this hypothesis across all marine animals, we compiled a data set of body sizes for 17,208 genera of marine animals spanning the past 542 million years. Mean biovolume across genera has increased by a factor of 150 since the Cambrian, whereas minimum biovolume has decreased by less than a factor of 10, and maximum biovolume has increased by more than a factor of 100,000. Neutral drift from a small initial value cannot explain this pattern. Instead, most of the size increase reflects differential diversification across classes, indicating that the pattern does not reflect a simple scaling-up of widespread and persistent selection for larger size within populations.

PMID:
25700517
DOI:
10.1126/science.1260065
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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