Telling the Evolutionary Time: Molecular Clocks and the Fossil Record

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ISBN 9780415275248
Cat# TF1433



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ISBN 9780203642528
Cat# TFE1596



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  • Presents diverse viewpoints of a controversial area of evolutionary biology
  • Provides a thorough assessment of the advantages and limitations of molecular clock theory and the fossil record
  • Explains concepts with numerous case studies, illustrations, and tables
  • Serves as a basis for further discussion and research
  • Summary

    Determining the precise timing for the evolutionary origin of groups of organisms has become increasingly important as scientists from diverse disciplines attempt to examine rates of anatomical or molecular evolution and correlate intrinsic biological events to extrinsic environmental events. Molecular clock analyses indicate that many major groups are twice as old, or more, than a literal reading of the fossil record attests, implying that the fossil record is incomplete. Few paleontologists agree that the fossil record is inadequate, arguing instead that our understanding of the molecular clock is far from ideal.

    Telling the Evolutionary Time: Molecular Clocks and the Fossil Record represents a discussion between molecular biologists and paleontologists, in which they investigate the significance of competing sources of data, explain the nature of molecular clocks and the fossil record, and strive to develop compromise models that incorporate contradictory opinions. These are presented as a series of case studies dealing with many of the most important groups of complex organisms, such as protists, land plants, flowering plants, complex animals, chordates, vertebrates, tetrapods, and modern birds.

    Bringing fresh insight and various perspectives to a complicated argument, this book assembles all sides of the debate into one comprehensive text. It is a significant volume for research scientists and advanced students across the field of evolutionary biology.

    Table of Contents

    Molecular Clocks: Whence and Whither

    Molecular Clocks and a Biological Trigger for Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth Events and the Cambrian Explosion

    Phylogenetic Fuses and Evolutionary 'Explosions': Conflicting Evidence and Critical Tests

    The Quality of the Fossil Record

    Ghost Ranges

    Episodic Evolution of Nuclear Small Subunit Ribosomal RNA Gene in the Stem-lineage of Foraminifera

    Dating the Origin of Land Plants

    Angiosperm Divergence Times: Congruence and Incongruence between Fossils and Sequence Divergence Estimates

    The Limitations of the Fossil Record and the Dating of the Origin of the Bilateria

    The Origin and Early Evolution of Chordates: Molecular Clocks and the Fossil Record

    Bones, Molecules and Crown-tetrapod Origins

    The Fossil Record and Molecular Clocks: Basal Radiations within the Neornithes

    Editorial Reviews

    "We are on the way to being much better informed both about evolution and the still problematic links between molecules and morphology. In helping to lead us to this destination [this book] will have played a valuable part."
    - Geological Magazine, May 2004, 141

    "Telling The Evolutionary Time presents a good representative cross-section of the diverse viewpoints of this controversial area of evolutionary biology. "
    - Plant Systematics & Evolution