University of Lincoln via ScienceDaily:
Periods of high extinction on Earth, rather than evolutionary adaptations, may have been a key driver in the diversification of amniotes (today’s dominant land vertebrates, including reptiles, birds, and mammals), according to new research published in Scientific Reports.
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The new study reveals that mass extinctions among some groups of amniotes coincide with numerous and large diversifications in other closely related groups.
Conducted by scientists from the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany, and the University of Lincoln, UK, the research challenges commonly held views that support a relationship between the evolution of “key innovations” in a group and the rapid increase in its number of species. The researchers behind the new study suggest the evidence for such a relationship has only ever been circumstantial.
The new study examined the issue of adaptive radiations among early amniotes, from 315 to 200 million years ago.