Gerber, S., Neige, P. & Eble, G. 2007. Combining ontogenetic and evolutionary scales of morphological disparity: a study of Early Jurassic ammonites // Evolution & Development, 9(5), 472-482
Two major research themes in Evolutionary Developmental Biology and in Paleobiology, respectively, have each become central for the analysis and interpretation of morphological changes in evolution: the study of ontogeny/ phylogeny connections, mainly within the widespread and controversial framework of heterochrony; and the study of morphological disparity, the morphological signal of biodiversity, describing secular changes in morphospace occupation during the history of any given clade. Although enriching in their respective fields, these two themes have remained rather isolated to date, despite the potential value of integrating them as some recent studies begin to suggest. Here, we explore the recent notion of developmental morphospaceFmorphospace carrying ontogenetic information as a potential tool for bridging the gap between disparity dynamics and developmental dynamics. We elaborate this approach with a case study of Early Jurassic ammonite family Hildoceratidae (Mollusca, Cephalopoda). Morphometric analyses of the shell shape of 20 species spanning the morphological spectrum of the family are used to quantify and contrast juvenile and adult disparity levels. Adult disparity is significantly greater than juvenile disparity at the family level; yet, some subclades also display different patterns. In addition, comparisons of ontogenetic trajectories underline the prevalence of heterochrony-based evolutionary modifications within subfamilies (via ontogenetic scaling); they also point to the probable existence of pervasive developmental constraints structuring inhomogeneous morphospace occupation.