Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


MORGAN, Daniel J.1, PAYNE, Jonathan L.2 and SCHAAL, Ellen K.1, (1)Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Building 320, Stanford, CA 94305, (2)Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Bldg 320, Stanford, CA 94305,

The size of an organism exercises tremendous control over its physiology, life history, and ecology, yet the factors that influence body size evolution remain poorly understood. One major limitation is the lack of appropriate datasets spanning long intervals of evolutionary time. Here, we document size trends in conodonts (tooth-like microfossils from marine chordates) because they evolved rapidly and are known to change size during intervals of environmental change. By measuring photographs from the Catalogue of Conodonts (Ziegler 1982), we compiled a database of conodont P1 element measurements for 575 species and subspecies from the Cambrian through Triassic periods. Because tooth size correlates with body size in conodont animals and their extant relatives, conodont element length can serve as a proxy for the size of the conodont animal. We find that mean and maximum size across species increased during the early Paleozoic, peaked during the Devonian-Mississippian, and then generally decreased until conodonts went extinct at the end of the Triassic. We used regression analyses to compare conodont mean size trends to potential environmental predictors, such as changing atmospheric pO2, atmospheric pCO2, and sea level. Conodont size exhibited poor correlation with these environmental factors, suggesting that conodont evolution may have been more strongly influenced by other environmental covariants or ecological variables such as predation and competition.