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      Cope's Rule and Romer's theory: patterns of diversity and gigantism in eurypterids and Palaeozoic vertebrates.

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      Biology letters

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          Abstract

          Gigantism is widespread among Palaeozoic arthropods, yet causal mechanisms, particularly the role of (abiotic) environmental factors versus (biotic) competition, remain unknown. The eurypterids (Arthropoda: Chelicerata) include the largest arthropods; gigantic predatory pterygotids (Eurypterina) during the Siluro-Devonian and bizarre sweep-feeding hibbertopterids (Stylonurina) from the Carboniferous to end-Permian. Analysis of family-level originations and extinctions among eurypterids and Palaeozoic vertebrates show that the diversity of Eurypterina waned during the Devonian, while the Placodermi radiated, yet Stylonurina remained relatively unaffected; adopting a sweep-feeding strategy they maintained their large body size by avoiding competition, and persisted throughout the Late Palaeozoic while the predatory nektonic Eurypterina (including the giant pterygotids) declined during the Devonian, possibly out-competed by other predators including jawed vertebrates.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Biol. Lett.
          Biology letters
          1744-957X
          1744-9561
          Apr 23 2010
          : 6
          : 2
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK. james_lamsdell@yahoo.co.uk
          Article
          rsbl.2009.0700
          10.1098/rsbl.2009.0700
          2865068
          19828493
          2dd61ace-5044-4583-a392-0491ff29e2de
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