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The origin of animals: Can molecular clocks and the fossil record be reconciled?
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology. University of Bristol.
University of Cambridge.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0206-579
University of Bristol.
2016 (English)In: Bioessays, ISSN 0265-9247, E-ISSN 1521-1878, Vol. 38, 1-12 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The evolutionary emergence of animals is one of the most significant episodes in the history of life, but its timing remains poorly constrained. Molecular clocks estimate that animals originated and began diversifying over 100 million years before the first definitive metazoan fossil evidence in the Cambrian. However, closer inspection reveals that clock estimates and the fossil record are less divergent than is often claimed. Modern clock analyses do not predict the presence of the crown-representatives of most animal phyla in the Neoproterozoic. Furthermore, despite challenges provided by incomplete preservation, a paucity of phylogenetically informative characters, and uncertain expectations of the anatomy of early animals, a number of Neoproterozoic fossils can reasonably be interpreted as metazoans. A considerable discrepancy remains, but much of this can be explained by the limited preservation potential of early metazoans and the difficulties associated with their identificationin the fossil record. Critical assessment of both recordsmay permitbetter resolutionof the tempo and mode of early animal evolution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 38, 1-12 p.
Keyword [en]
Cambrian explosion, Ediacaran, Metazoa, molecular clocks, Neoproterozoic, trace fossils
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Geology
Research subject
Ecosystems and species history
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-2002DOI: 10.1002/bies.201600120OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-2002DiVA: diva2:1052320
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2013-4290
Available from: 2016-12-06 Created: 2016-12-06 Last updated: 2016-12-13Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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