Biological versatility and earth history.

  • Geerat J Vermeij
  • Published 1973 in
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…


Examples from various plant and animal groups indicate that there has been a general increase in potential versatility of form, determined by the number and range of independently varying morphogenetic parameters, among taxa appearing at successively younger stages in the fossil record. Taxa or body plans with higher potential versatility have tended to replace less potentially versatile groups in the same or similar adaptive zone through time. Greater potential diversity allows for greater homeostasis, efficiency, and integration of structures and functions, and for an increase in size of the potential adaptive zone. In contrast, chemical versatility has generally decreased within groups from the pre-Cambrian to the Phanerozoic, partly as the result of apparent changes in the chemical environment and partly as the consequence of selection for efficiency and greater metabolic ease of handling of certain materials.

Cite this paper

@article{Vermeij1973BiologicalVA, title={Biological versatility and earth history.}, author={Geerat J Vermeij}, journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America}, year={1973}, volume={70 7}, pages={1936-8} }