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Perspectives in Animal Phylogeny and Evolution$
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Alessandro Minelli

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780198566205

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566205.001.0001

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The overall picture

The overall picture

(p.223) CHAPTER 9 The overall picture
Perspectives in Animal Phylogeny and Evolution

Alessandro Minelli

Oxford University Press

Reconstructing phylogeny is but a step in our enquiry on the evolution animal form and function. Features representing key innovations result, as a rule, from the successful combination of a number of individual changes, each of which has its own history, thus suggesting a factorial and not necessarily hierarchical approach to homology. Evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo, suggests complementing the reconstruction of changing adaptations with an adequate consideration of the evolvability of traits, a property limited by generative, or developmental constraints. This perspective provides a suitable context for the study of evolutionary trends; for example, size or ecological trends. Current awareness in both evolutionary and developmental biology suggests an extensive scope for intercalary evolution, by which novelties are more frequent, or more important, in earlier rather than later stages. Combined with a relative stability of the adult, this results in extensive changes of the developmental schedule, including the evolution of ‘catastrophic’ metamorphosis.

Keywords:   constraints, evolutionary novelties, evolutionary trends, evolvability, factoriality, hierarchies, intercalary evolution, miniaturization

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