Cope's rule and the evolution of body size in Pinnipedimorpha (Mammalia: Carnivora)
For Tuesday, We are reading about Seal-body-size evolution.
Cope's rule describes the evolutionary trend in animal lineages to Increase in body size overtime. In this study, we tested the validity of Cope's rule for a Marine Mammal clade, the Pinnipedimorpha, Which includes the extinct Desmatophocidae, and extant Phocidae (earless seals), Otariidae (fur seals and sea lions), and Odobenidae (walruses). We tested for the presence of Cope's rule by Compiling a large dataset of body size data for extant and fossil pinnipeds And Then Examined how body size evolved through time. We found thatthere was a positive relationship between geologic age and body size. However, this trend is the result of differences between early assemblages of small-bodied pinnipeds (Oligocene to early Miocene) and later assemblages (middle Miocene to Pliocene) for Which species exhibited Greater size diversity. No significant differences were found between the number of Increases or decreases in body size within Pinnipedimorpha or within specified pinniped clades. This Suggests That the pinniped body size Increase was driven by passive diversification into vacant niche space, with the common ancestor of Pinnipedimorpha Occurring near the minimum adult body size possible for a Marine Mammal. Based upon the above results, the evolutionary history of pinnipeds Does not follow Cope's rule.