Analysis using 50 Volumes of Treatise Supports Cope's Rule

Friday, February 20, 2015

The journal Science reports that an analysis that relied on using records of 17,000 marine species documented in the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology supports Cope’s Rule, the classic hypothesis that posits that there is selection for increasing body size..  

The authors (Heim et al., mainly from Stanford, CA, and Swarthmore College, PA) used all 50+ volumes of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology (which is published by the KU Paleontological Institute) as the main dataset for the massive study which looked at 17,208 genera of marine animals spanning the past 542 million years. They found that mean biovolume across genera has increased by a factor of 150 since the Cambrian, yet minimum biovolume has decreased by less than a factor of 10, and maximum biovolume has increased by more than a factor of 100,000. They could not explain this by random drift, so suggest that the trend observed and popularized by the famous dinosaur paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope in the 1880s–1890s was shown to be accurate.

Also reported by BBC News

News Type: 
Research News