Congruent phylogenetic and fossil signatures of mammalian diversification dynamics driven by Tertiary abiotic change
This Friday 27th of November, we will read a paper by Cantalapiedra et al. 2015: "Congruent phylogenetic and fossil signatures of mammalian diversification dynamics driven by Tertiary abiotic change."
Computational methods for estimating diversification rates from extant species phylogenetic trees have become abundant in evolutionary research. However, little evidence exists about how their outcome compares to a complementary and direct source of information: the fossil record. Furthermore, there is virtually no direct test for the congruence of evolutionary rates based on these two sources. This task is only achievable in clades with both a well-known fossil record and a complete phylogenetic tree. Here, we compare the evolutionary rates of ruminant mammals as estimated from their vast paleontological record—over 1200 species spanning 50 myr—and their living-species phylogeny. Significantly, our results revealed that the ruminant's fossil record and phylogeny reflect congruent evolutionary processes. The concordance is especially strong for the last 25 myr, when living groups became a dominant part of ruminant diversity. We found empirical support for previous hypotheses based on simulations and neontological data: The pattern captured by the tree depends on how clade specific the processes are and which clades are involved. Also, we report fossil evidence for a postradiation speciation slowdown coupled with constant, moderate extinction in the Miocene. The recent deceleration in phylogenetic rates is connected to rapid extinction triggered by recent climatic fluctuations.