By Douglas Webster and Molly Webster (Auth.)
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Additional resources for Comparative Vertebrate Morphology
We can call this present result of vertebrate evolution —that is, those species alive today —the current spatial diversity of vertebrates. How they got this way —how they changed through time —comprises their phylogenies, which we can call the temporal diversity of vertebrates. Although the fossil record is limited (usually) to hard parts, it may be possible by various methods to reconstruct the soft parts and their temporal diversity. One way is by studying the spatial diversity. Let us say, for instance, that we want to know about the temporal diversity of the mammalian heart.
How they got this way —how they changed through time —comprises their phylogenies, which we can call the temporal diversity of vertebrates. Although the fossil record is limited (usually) to hard parts, it may be possible by various methods to reconstruct the soft parts and their temporal diversity. One way is by studying the spatial diversity. Let us say, for instance, that we want to know about the temporal diversity of the mammalian heart. If we study the heart in living reptiles, birds, and mammals, we learn that at least one heavy-walled ventricle and thinwalled atrium are found in all these forms.
Lateral view of the splanchnocranium of an acanthodian. Embryologie development of the head skeleton 59 A GENERALIZED VERTEBRATE SKULL, Amia calva Because of variations in these three components of the head skeleton, and because of the formation of several bone complexes, the relationships between neurocranium, splanchnocranium, and dermatocranium are often confusing. We will first examine an animal in which each of the three components is mostly, although not entirely, separate from the other two.