Martin Meyerson Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies
Earth and Environmental Science
University of Pennsylvania
The Rise and Fall of Fishes: How Ecology and Mass Extinction Shaped Vertebrate Biodiversity
Vertebrates (55000+ species) originated as "fishes" some 540 million years ago. However, their path to numerical superiority was long and unlikely; they are marginal or missing from productive ecosystems during the Cambrian Explosion and Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. Here I show how quantitative paleobiology can reveal the ecological factors and environmental events during the mid-Paleozoic allowed vertebrate to become essential components of marine biodiversity, and eventually caused a initially-stable global fish fauna to be replaced by the "primitive" fishes we see today.