World Turtle News, 04/19/2020
Evolutionary trees can’t reveal speciation and extinction rates
Evolutionary-tree diagrams, which are often used by scientists to study the branching relationship between species, are commonly used to estimate the rate at which species, such as turtles and tortoises, go extinct and when new species arise (speciation). However, new research casts doubt on this approach.
The issue arises as this work has shown it’s difficult to estimate the ‘time-varying’ rates of extinction and speciation. Louca and Pennell’s, the two scientists behind this research, key result is then to show that there is an infinite number of alternative sets of time-varying speciation–extinction rates that yield the same number of lineages at any given time as does the deterministic lineage-through-time curve. This was highlighted using their bird data but is applicable to all lineages.
To catch the full story, click the link. The image is from a different source, and is for contradictory illustrative purposes.
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Did You Know…
Turtles belong to one of the oldest reptile groups in the world – beating snakes, crocodiles and alligators! These creatures date back to the time of the dinosaurs, over 200 million years ago – woah!
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Photo from Louca and Pennell.