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Article: Journeys through discrete‐character morphospace: synthesizing phylogeny, tempo, and disparity

Palaeontology Cover Image - Volume 61 Part 5
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 61
Part: 5
Publication Date: September 2018
Page(s): 637 645
Author(s): Graeme T. Lloyd
Addition Information

How to Cite

LLOYD, G.T. 2018. Journeys through discrete‐character morphospace: synthesizing phylogeny, tempo, and disparity. Palaeontology, 61, 5, 637-645. DOI: /doi/10.1111/pala.12380

Author Information

  • Graeme T. Lloyd - School of Earth & Environment University of Leeds Maths/Earth & Environment Building Leeds LS2 9JT UK

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 03 August 2018
  • Manuscript Accepted: 27 April 2018
  • Manuscript Received: 31 January 2018

Funded By

Natural Environment Research Council. Grant Number: NE/I005536/1
Australian Research Council. Grant Number: DE140101879
University of Oxford
Macquarie University

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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Palaeontologists have long employed discrete categorical data to capture morphological variation in fossil species, using the resulting character–taxon matrices to measure evolutionary tempo, infer phylogenies and capture morphological disparity. However, to date these have been seen as separate approaches despite a common goal of understanding morphological evolution over deep time. Here I argue that there are clear advantages to considering these three lines of enquiry in a single space: the phylomorphospace. Conceptually these high‐dimensional spaces capture how a phylogenetic tree explores morphospace and allow us to consider important process questions around evolutionary rates, constraints, convergence and directional trends. Currently the literature contains fundamentally different approaches used to generate such spaces, with no direct comparison between them, despite the differing evolutionary histories they imply. Here I directly compare five different phylomorphospace approaches, three with direct literature equivalents and two that are novel. I use a single empirical case study of coelurosaurian theropod dinosaurs (152 taxa, 853 characters) to show that under many analyses the literature‐derived approaches tend to reflect introduced phylogenetic (rather than the intended morphological) signal. The two novel approaches, which produce limited ancestral state estimates prior to ordination, are able to minimize this phylogenetic signal and thus exhibit more realistic amounts of phylogenetic signal, rate heterogeneity, and convergent evolution.

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