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Diverse bilaterian clades emerged apparently within a few million years during the early Cambrian, and various environmental, developmental, and ecological causes have been proposed to explain this abrupt appearance. A compilation of the patterns of fossil and molecular diversification, comparative developmental data, and information on ecological feeding(More)
Development of the animal body plan is controlled by large gene regulatory networks (GRNs), and hence evolution of body plans must depend upon change in the architecture of developmental GRNs. However, these networks are composed of diverse components that evolve at different rates and in different ways. Because of the hierarchical organization of(More)
Comparative developmental evidence indicates that reorganizations in developmental gene regulatory networks (GRNs) underlie evolutionary changes in animal morphology, including body plans. We argue here that the nature of the evolutionary alterations that arise from regulatory changes depends on the hierarchical position of the change within a GRN. This(More)
The distribution of species body size within taxonomic groups exhibits a heavy right tail extending over many orders of magnitude, where most species are much larger than the smallest species. We provide a simple model of cladogenetic diffusion over evolutionary time that omits explicit mechanisms for interspecific competition and other microevolutionary(More)
A rich body of empirically grounded theory has developed about food webs--the networks of feeding relationships among species within habitats. However, detailed food-web data and analyses are lacking for ancient ecosystems, largely because of the low resolution of taxa coupled with uncertain and incomplete information about feeding interactions. These(More)
Current plant and animal diversity preserves at most 1-2% of the species that have existed over the past 600 million years. But understanding the evolutionary impact of these extinctions requires a variety of metrics. The traditional measurement is loss of taxa (species or a higher category) but in the absence of phylogenetic information it is difficult to(More)
Biotic recoveries following mass extinctions are characterized by a process in which whole ecologies are reconstructed from low-diversity systems, often characterized by opportunistic groups. The recovery process provides an unexpected window to ecosystem dynamics. In many aspects, recovery is very similar to ecological succession, but important differences(More)
The Neoproterozoic era was punctuated by the Sturtian (about 710 million years ago) and Marinoan (about 635 million years ago) intervals of glaciation. In South Australia, the rocks left behind by the glaciations are separated by a succession of limestones and shales, which were deposited at tropical latitudes. Here we describe millimetre-to(More)