The shape of life: how much is written in stone?

Matthew A Wills, Richard A Fortey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)


Considering the enormous diversity of living organisms, representing mostly untapped resources for studying ecological, ontogenetic and phylogenetic patterns and processes, why should evolutionary biologists concern themselves with the remains of animals and plants that died out tens or even hundreds of millions of years ago? The reason is that important new insights into some of the most vexing evolutionary questions are being revealed at the interfaces of palaeontology, developmental biology and molecular biology. Attempts to synthesise information from these disciplines, however, often encounter their greatest hurdles in considerations of the radiation of the Metazoa. Ongoing challenges relate to the origins of body plans, the relationships of the metazoan phyla and the timing of major evolutionary radiations. Palaeontology not only has its own unique contributions to the study of evolutionary processes, but provides a lynchpin for many of the emerging techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1152
Number of pages11
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000


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