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Revisiting a landmark study-system: no evidence for a punctuated mode of evolution in Metrarabdotos

Citation

Voje, Kjetil; Di Martino, Emanuela; Porto, Arthur (2019), Revisiting a landmark study-system: no evidence for a punctuated mode of evolution in Metrarabdotos , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t4b8gthxm

Abstract

Is speciation generally a ‘special time’ in morphological evolution or are lineage splitting events just ‘more of the same’ where the end product happens to be two separate lineages? Data on evolutionary dynamics during anagenetic and cladogenetic events among closely related lineages within a clade are rare, but the fossil record of the bryozoan genus Metrarabdotos is considered a textbook example of a clade where speciation causes rapid evolutionary change against a backdrop of morphological stasis within lineages. Here, we point to some measurement theoretical and methodological issues in the original work on Metrarabdotos. We then reanalyze a subset of the original data that can be meaningfully investigated using similar quantitative statistical approaches as in the original studies. We consistently fail in finding variation in the evolutionary process during within-lineage evolution compared to cladogenetic events: Neither the rates of evolution, the strength of selection or the directions traveled in multivariate morphospace are different when comparing evolution within lineages and at speciation events in Metrarabdotos, and genetic drift cannot be excluded as a sufficient explanation for the morphological differentiation within lineages and during speciation. Although widely considered the best example of a punctuated mode of evolution, morphological divergence and speciation are not linked in Metrarabdotos.