20 Feb '15, 3pm

Evolution favors the big: Marine animals have grown larger over time

Evolution favors the big: Marine animals have grown larger over time

Animals tend to evolve toward a larger body size over time, and marine animals are no exception, a study suggests. In fact, the average size of marine animals has increased significantly over the past 542 million years, according to researchers who recently compared the body sizes of ocean-dwelling creatures from five major groups ranging from arthropods to vertebrates. The findings support a theory that biologists call Cope's rule, which holds that animals in a given group tend to grow larger over the course of their evolution, the researchers said. [New Size Estimates for Large Ocean Animals (Infographic) ] Cope's rule is named after American paleontologist Edward Cope. It was formulated in the late 19th century not by Cope himself, but by paleontologists who noticed that land animals such as horses and dinosaurs tended to become larger over time. There are exceptions to...

Full article: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/evolutio...

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