Developmental bias in the fossil record
Forskningsoutput: Tidskriftsbidrag › Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
The role of developmental bias and plasticity in evolution is a central research interest in evolutionary biology. Studies of these concepts and related processes are usually conducted on extant systems and have seen limited investigation in the fossil record. Here, I identify plasticity-led evolution (PLE) as a form of developmental bias accessible through scrutiny of paleontological material. I summarize the process of PLE and describe it in terms of the environmentally mediated accumulation and release of cryptic genetic variation. Given this structure, I then predict its manifestation in the fossil record, discuss its similarity to quantum evolution and punctuated equilibrium, and argue that these describe macroevolutionary patterns concordant with PLE. Finally, I suggest methods and directions towards providing evidence of PLE in the fossil record and conclude that such endeavors are likely to be highly rewarding.