Heterochrony in Evolution

An Overview
  • Michael L. McKinney
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 7)


The chapters in this book essentially form a collective argument for the abundance of heterochrony in evolution. In a sense, this is hardly surprising, since changing the rate or time at or during which a trait grows is certainly the simplest way to alter form (McKinney, this volume, Chapter 2). Why then all the ruckus? As Gould (this volume) has noted, there are a number of reasons, not the least of which is that a growing knowledge of developmental mechanisms is allowing us to define more precisely the link between ontogeny and evolution. But how far will heterochrony take us? At minimum, it may have little impact on the Darwinian view. These abundant cases could amount to little more than hanging polysyllabic names on the obvious mechanics of growth (larger traits have grown faster or for a longer time, so what?). However, at maximum, it may turn out that there are important ramifications not assimilated into the traditional view of evolution. Among the most important of these are previously unrealized heterochronic effects on rate and direction of evolution.


Benthic Foraminifera High Taxon Planktonic Foraminifera Wood Frog Internal Motor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. McKinney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological Sciences, and Graduate Program in EcologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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