New publication: Diversification histories for North American and Eurasian carnivorans

John A. Finarelli and Lee Hsiang Liow in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society


The evolutionary processes that formed present-day biological diversity can be inferred through modelling past rates of extinction and origination from observations in the fossil record. We analyzed observations of over 5800 records from North America and Eurasia for 972 species in the mammalian order Carnivora. Using these records of carnivoran fossils, we estimated extinction, speciation and net diversification, while simultaneously estimating sampling probability, for the past 28 Myr. While global carnivoran diversification through the Neogene showed a pattern of surprisingly stability, diversification dynamics differ considerably between North America and Eurasia. This is particularly evident in the interval from 9 to 8 Mya, in which there is a pronounced peak of positive diversification in Eurasia that is not observed in the North American record, and from 6 to 5 Mya, in which North America experienced high rates of positive diversification, while Eurasia experienced significantly negative diversification. Our results indicate that North American members of the dogs, bears and amphicyonids, as well as other basal members of the Caniformia have lower rates of average net diversification than their counterparts in Eurasia, due to lower rates of speciation. However, average rates net diversification and their components are not distinguishable among other subclades of carnivorans in the on the two continents. In fact, most carnivoran subclades do not have significantly different estimates of average net rates of diversification.

Volume 118,  Issue 1, pages 26–38, May 2016
Article first published online: 22 February 2016

Tags: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society;
Published Mar. 31, 2016 9:54 AM - Last modified Mar. 31, 2016 9:55 AM