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Cope’s rule in the evolution of marine animals
Heim, N.A.; Knope, M.L.; Schaal, E.K.; Wang, S.C.; Payne, J.L. (2015). Cope’s rule in the evolution of marine animals. Science (Wash.) 347(6224): 867-870.
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: New York, N.Y. ISSN 0036-8075, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Heim, N.A.
  • Knope, M.L.
  • Schaal, E.K.
  • Wang, S.C.
  • Payne, J.L.

    Cope’s rule proposes that animal lineages evolve toward larger body size over time. To test this hypothesis across all marine animals, we compiled a data set of body sizes for 17,208 genera of marine animals spanning the past 542 million years. Mean biovolume across genera has increased by a factor of 150 since the Cambrian, whereas minimum biovolume has decreased by less than a factor of 10, and maximum biovolume has increased by more than a factor of 100,000. Neutral drift from a small initial value cannot explain this pattern. Instead, most of the size increase reflects differential diversification across classes, indicating that the pattern does not reflect a simple scaling-up of widespread and persistent selection for larger size within populations.

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