Primate diversification inferred from phylogenies and fossils.
Biodiversity arises from the balance between speciation and extinction. Fossils record the origins and disappearance of organisms, and the branching patterns of molecular phylogenies allow estimation of speciation and extinction rates, but the patterns of diversification are frequently incongruent between these two data sources. I tested two hypotheses about the diversification of primates based on ∼600 fossil species and 90% complete phylogenies of living species: (1) diversification rates increased through time; (2) a significant extinction event occurred in the Oligocene. Consistent with the first hypothesis, analyses of phylogenies supported increasing speciation rates and negligible extinction rates. In contrast, fossils showed that while speciation rates increased, speciation and extinction rates tended to be nearly equal, resulting in zero net diversification. Partially supporting the second hypothesis, the fossil data recorded a clear pattern of diversity decline in the Oligocene, although diversification rates were near zero. The phylogeny supported increased extinction ∼34 Ma, but also elevated extinction ∼10 Ma, coinciding with diversity declines in some fossil clades. The results demonstrated that estimates of speciation and extinction ignoring fossils are insufficient to infer diversification and information on extinct lineages should be incorporated into phylogenetic analyses.
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