Telling the Evolutionary Time: Molecular Clocks and the Fossil Record, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Telling the Evolutionary Time

Molecular Clocks and the Fossil Record, 1st Edition

Edited by Philip C J Donoghue, M. Paul Smith

CRC Press

296 pages | 57 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780415275248
pub: 2003-12-16
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429212369
pub: 2003-12-16
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Determining the precise timing for the evolutionary origin of groups of organisms has become increasingly important as scientists from diverse disciplines attempt to examine rates of anatomical or molecular evolution and correlate intrinsic biological events to extrinsic environmental events. Molecular clock analyses indicate that many major groups are twice as old, or more, than a literal reading of the fossil record attests, implying that the fossil record is incomplete. Few paleontologists agree that the fossil record is inadequate, arguing instead that our understanding of the molecular clock is far from ideal.

Telling the Evolutionary Time: Molecular Clocks and the Fossil Record represents a discussion between molecular biologists and paleontologists, in which they investigate the significance of competing sources of data, explain the nature of molecular clocks and the fossil record, and strive to develop compromise models that incorporate contradictory opinions. These are presented as a series of case studies dealing with many of the most important groups of complex organisms, such as protists, land plants, flowering plants, complex animals, chordates, vertebrates, tetrapods, and modern birds.

Bringing fresh insight and various perspectives to a complicated argument, this book assembles all sides of the debate into one comprehensive text. It is a significant volume for research scientists and advanced students across the field of evolutionary biology.


"We are on the way to being much better informed both about evolution and the still problematic links between molecules and morphology. In helping to lead us to this destination [this book] will have played a valuable part."

- Geological Magazine, May 2004, 141

"Telling The Evolutionary Time presents a good representative cross-section of the diverse viewpoints of this controversial area of evolutionary biology. "

- Plant Systematics & Evolution

Table of Contents

Molecular Clocks: Whence and Whither

Molecular Clocks and a Biological Trigger for Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth Events and the Cambrian Explosion

Phylogenetic Fuses and Evolutionary 'Explosions': Conflicting Evidence and Critical Tests

The Quality of the Fossil Record

Ghost Ranges

Episodic Evolution of Nuclear Small Subunit Ribosomal RNA Gene in the Stem-lineage of Foraminifera

Dating the Origin of Land Plants

Angiosperm Divergence Times: Congruence and Incongruence between Fossils and Sequence Divergence Estimates

The Limitations of the Fossil Record and the Dating of the Origin of the Bilateria

The Origin and Early Evolution of Chordates: Molecular Clocks and the Fossil Record

Bones, Molecules and Crown-tetrapod Origins

The Fossil Record and Molecular Clocks: Basal Radiations within the Neornithes

About the Series

Systematics Association Special Volumes

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Animals / General
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Evolution
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geology