Title

The Living Fossil: A Comparative Analysis

Abstract

Many extant taxa that have undergone long periods of evolutionary stasis have been classified as "living fossils" to indicate their similarity to fossil specimens. However, the term is inherently relative; claims of living fossils independent of their relation to the rest of the taxon tell us nothing about the nominal or pronounced uniqueness of these slow evolutionary rates. In my study, I compared fossil data to the equivalent modern data from a wide range of taxa to test the hypotheses that the putative living fossils would have more living fossil characteristics compared to their close relatives. Study results provide insight into the scientific relevance of calling something a living fossil; demonstrate the veracity of different criteria attributed to living fossils; and show the feasibility of continuing the investigation into the meaning of this scientific term.

Faculty Sponsor

Delbert Hutchison

Tracks

Plant Wars

Terms of Use

ARMINDA Terms of Use

Location

Science 100

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Research Funding Source or OCS Program

National Science Foundation

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Apr 11th, 4:30 PM Apr 11th, 4:45 PM

The Living Fossil: A Comparative Analysis

Science 100

Many extant taxa that have undergone long periods of evolutionary stasis have been classified as "living fossils" to indicate their similarity to fossil specimens. However, the term is inherently relative; claims of living fossils independent of their relation to the rest of the taxon tell us nothing about the nominal or pronounced uniqueness of these slow evolutionary rates. In my study, I compared fossil data to the equivalent modern data from a wide range of taxa to test the hypotheses that the putative living fossils would have more living fossil characteristics compared to their close relatives. Study results provide insight into the scientific relevance of calling something a living fossil; demonstrate the veracity of different criteria attributed to living fossils; and show the feasibility of continuing the investigation into the meaning of this scientific term.

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