Possible largest-scale trends in organismal evolution: Eight 'live hypotheses'

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Historically, a great many features of organisms have been said to show a trend over the history of life, and many rationales for such trends have been proposed. Here I review eight candidates, eight 'live hypotheses' that are inspiring research on largest-scale trends today: entropy, energy intensiveness, evolutionary versatility, developmental depth, structural depth, adaptedness, size, and complexity. For each, the review covers the principal arguments that have been advanced for why a trend is expected, as well as some of the empirical approaches that have been adopted. Also discussed are three conceptual matters arising in connection with trend studies: 1. Alternative bases for classifying trends: pattern versus dynamics; 2. alternative modes in which largest-scale trends have been studied: 'exploratory' versus 'skeptical'; and 3. evolutionary progress.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McShea, DW

Published Date

  • December 1, 1998

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 29 /

Start / End Page

  • 293 - 318

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0066-4162

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.29.1.293

Citation Source

  • Scopus