The pace of diversification: how does it tell us about neutral vs deterministic mechanisms?

In class the other day, we talked about how standing genetic variation is consistent with idea that most genetic variation is selectively neutral. After spring break we’ll talk about the rate of neutral evolution and the basis for the molecular clock. This plays into a larger theme that we keep returning to, which is the continuum between determinism and randomness among evolutionary mechanisms. Another topic that we read and talked about was the use of phylogenetic tree shape to quantify rates of diversification.

Now a new study has quantified the diversification rate across a tree of >50,000 animal species. The authors describe the meaning of their findings in the short quote that I tweeted:

then Daniel Cadena (Prof. at Universidad de los Andes, Bogota) replied:

Yes, it’s truly an amazing figure, to go along with a provocative claim.

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