The study of evolutionary trends is one of the oldest and most intriguing topics in evolutionary biology and paleobiology (McNamara 1990). Workers since Cuvier, Lyell, and Owen have wanted to know if the fossil record demonstrates “progression” within temporal sequences of related organisms. Regardless of whether changes in the average values of morphological characters are progressive in any meaningful sense, these changes are still of great interest. In practice, questions about trends are most commonly framed by paleontologists in terms of “complexity” (however defined) or body size (McShea 1998a).

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Research on evolutionary trends has intensified over...

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