Heterochrony in Gastropods

A Neontological View
  • David R. Lindberg
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 7)


All members of monophyletic taxa share a common ancestor whose development pathway has been modified to produce descendant morphologies. One important class of development modifications consists in changes in the timing of the development of existing characters; this process is called heterochrony (Gould, 1977, p. 4). The morphological expression of heterochronic changes at the developmental level is limited, and the forms of expression have been described qualitatively and quantitatively by de Beer (1951), Gould (1977, p. 209), Alberch et al. (1979), Alberch (1980), Bonner (1982), Fink (1982), McNamara (1982, 1986), McKinney (1986), and references in these works. In summary, heterochrony produces two forms of morphological expression: paedomorphosis, the retention of ancestral juvenile characters by later ontogenetic stages of descendants (Gould, 1977, p. 484), and peramorphosis, new descendant characters produced by additions to the ancestral ontogeny (Alberch et al., 1979). McNamara (1986) has defined three processes for each form of expression as follows. The paedomorphic processes are (1) progenesis, precocious sexual maturation, (2) neoteny, reduced rate of morphological development, and (3) postdisplacement, delayed onset of growth. The peramorphic processes are (1) hypermorphosis, delayed sexual maturation, (2) acceleration, increased rate of morphological development, and (3) predisplacement, earlier onset of growth (see also McKinney, this volume).


Life History Trait Fossil Record Mantle Cavity Larval Shell Life History Evolution 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Lindberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of PaleontologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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