Fossils and Developmental Genetics

Marcelo Sánchez

in Embryos in Deep Time

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520271937
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520952300 | DOI:
Fossils and Developmental Genetics

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Fossils of adult individuals can be informative about development by virtue of preserving phenotypes with an immediate, clear correlation to a specific developmental process. To reconstruct such a process, it is important to consider the position of the fossil in the evolutionary tree of life, to ensure that the analyses are based on correct assumptions. This approach is called extant phylogenetic bracketing. It was introduced specifically to infer soft anatomical properties and behavioral reconstructions in fossils, but it can also be used for reconstructing extinct ontogenies. The extinct animal is compared to its nearest living relatives. This chapter demonstrates how we can learn about developmental evolution by looking at extinct adult phenotypes.

Keywords: developmental evolution; adult phenotypes; phylogenetic bracketing

Chapter.  3629 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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