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      Graduality and innovation in the evolution of complex phenotypes: insights from development.

      Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution
      Animals, Biological Evolution, Computer Simulation, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Models, Biological, Morphogenesis, Phenotype, Tooth, anatomy & histology, embryology, growth & development

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          Abstract

          The neo-Darwinian paradigm benefits from the assumption that phenotypic variation is gradual and that phenotype and genotype have a relatively simple relationship. These assumptions are historically inherited from the times of the neo-Darwinian synthesis and, consequently, do not include present understanding about development. In this study, understanding about the dynamics of pattern formation is used to explore to that extent phenotypic variation can be expected to be gradual and simply related to molecular variation. Variation in simple phenotypes seems to fit neo-Darwinian assumptions but variation in complex phenotypes does not. Instead, variation in complex phenotypes would have a tendency to relatively less gradual evolution, even at microevolutionary time scales, that would make phylogenetic reconstructions more difficult. In addition, they will have a tendency to exhibit specific trends in innovation rates over group radiations with early accelerations and late decelerations. This work also explores further consequences of these results in our understanding of phenotypic evolution. Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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