Diversification dynamics of total-, stem- and crown-groups are compatible with molecular clock estimates of divergence times

Alan J S Beavan*, Davide Pisani*, Philip C J Donoghue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Molecular evolutionary timescales are expected to predate the fossil evidence but, particularly for major evolutionary radiations, they can imply extremely protracted stem-lineages predating the origin of living clades, leading to claims of systematic overestimation of divergence times. We use macroevolutionary birth-death models to describe the range of total-group, and crown-group ages expected under constant rates of speciation and extinction. We extend current predictions on origination times for crown- and total-groups, and extinction of stem-groups, demonstrating that there is broad variance in these predictions. Under constant rates of speciation and extinction, we show that the distribution of expected arthropod total-group ages is consistent with molecular clock estimates. The fossil record cannot be read literally and our results preclude attempts to interpret the antiquity of clades based on the co-occurrence of stem- and crown-representatives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience Advances
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Apr 2021

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